August 16, 2011 § 4 Comments
J: I have had this one particular burger idea in my head for months now. I saw it on some YouTube video or food show or something, and haven’t had the opportunity to actually make the burgers… until now. But of course, as soon as I mentioned my idea to Erik, he suggested that we make the buns from scratch as well — and being the foodies that we are, of course that’s exactly what we did. So, what was this burger idea? Well, you’ll have to wait a few days for that post; this right here is dedicated to the reason storebought buns will never make you happy ever again.
These things are a) easier than you expect, b) light, fluffy, and just like storebought only BETTER (and with a snazzy sense of accomplishment on the side), and c) so. delicious. Also, if you bake, oh, ever, odds are that you have everything you need for these babies in your kitchen/pantry right now. No excuses!
Light Brioche Buns
(original recipe from the inimitable Smitten Kitchen, here)
3 tbsp warm milk
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 large eggs
3 c bread flour
1/3 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds (optional, but really, aren’t burger buns incomplete without a little decoration on top?)
Start off by combining, in a large glass measuring cup if you’ve got one, one cup of warm water (not listed in the ingredients), the milk, the yeast, and the sugar. Mix these together briefly and then leave them alone for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is nice and foamy.
In a small bowl, beat one egg (yes, just the one; the other is used later). In a large bowl, combine the bread and all-purpose flours and salt, and using your fingers, mix in the butter until you get a coarse-crumb-like texture and there are no more large/discernible chunks — kind of like butter cookies, except softer, since the flour-to-butter ratio is so much greater than your standard cookie recipe.
Pour the yeast mixture and the beaten egg into the flour/butter mixture, and stir to combine until the dough comes together into a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a flat, well-floured surface, and begin “kneading” it. I say “kneading” because, as per the recipe from Smitten Kitchen, you aren’t meant to knead it in the traditional fold-turn-fold-turn way. Rather, “knead” it by picking up the ball and “slapping” it back down onto the surface repeatedly. Kinda fun, no? Also, since this is not your traditional bread recipe, you want the dough to be a bit more tender than a normal loaf might be, so don’t add as much flour as you would normally. The dough will be a bit sticky and difficult to handle at first, and although it gets less sticky while you knead it, you do still want it to be a little tacky or sticky when you’re finished. The whole kneading process should take 8 to 10 minutes, and this is what you’ll end up with:
Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until it’s doubled in size. Our neat dough-rising trick in the Nombudsman kitchen, if you’re in a hurry, is to turn the oven on for a few seconds, let it warm up (no warmer than it would be on a hot summer’s day — aim for around 80-85 degrees), and then turn it off, put the dough in, and close the door. The oven will cool down gradually, but the warmth will help the dough rise faster than it would otherwise. Using this trick, our dough more than doubled in just 1 hour.
Once the dough has finished its first rise, cut it into eight equal parts. Either line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or (if you have none, as in our situation) grease your baking sheet. Gently roll or shape each piece of dough into a roughly-circular “patty”, and set the soon-to-be buns on the prepped baking sheet with a couple of inches between them. These little buns expand like nobody’s business!
Let the dough balls rise a second time, again for 1 to 2 hours. Since our dough had expanded so much in the first rise, we actually only needed about 30 minutes for the second rise. While the dough is rising this time, place a shallow pan of water on a lower rack or the floor of your oven, and preheat to 400 degrees.
After the second rise, beat the remaining egg in a small bowl, and brush it over the tops of the buns. This will give them a lovely golden sheen. Also, if you like (and we do!), sprinkle on poppy seeds or sesame seeds.
Bake your buns for about 15 minutes, until the tops are golden brown; turn the baking sheet halfway through.
When they’re done, let them cool, and then slice in half and let these brioche buns fulfill their purpose by sandwiching a fantastic burger. What burger did we use? You’ll just have to wait and see…
Most people don’t pay that much attention to burger buns, focusing instead on what’s between them. We hope these buns change that and open your mind to how great a bun can really be, and how much better a burger is with the right kind of roll. Enjoy!