Walker and I have made a deal: he will cook the main part of one dinner each week so that if we break up, he won’t be stuck ordering out or scrambling eggs to survive. His parents are always joking about how useless he is in the kitchen, and so starts Walker’s education. This week, he decided he wanted to make hamburgers.
I’m usually horrible about buying hamburger buns. We realize we want to have hamburgers and we have the meat and the toppings but we never keep any hamburger buns in the house. And while this time, I had more than enough time to go buy hamburger buns at the store, it was cold, and I really didn’t want to have to walk to the store and back. I am just not a winter person.
Instead, I saw a recipe that had been tested by Deb at Smitten Kitchen for a light brioche burger bun and I thought to myself I can do that. Well it turns out, even without two types of flour (I just use the flour I find at the Chinese market, and they have two types: flour made from wheat, and flour made from rice) I could do it.
Makes 8 4 to 5-inch burger buns
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds (optional)
1. In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes.
2. In a large bowl, incorporate the salt into the flour. Add softened butter and mix into flour until crumbs form. In a separate small bowl, beat one egg. Stir yeast mixture and beaten egg into the flour mixture until a dough forms. It will be very sticky. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Try to leave them on the sticky side, because adding too much flour will result in a tough bun.
3. Shape dough into a ball and return it to mixing bowl. Cover bowl and let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours.
4. Divide dough into 8 roughly equal parts. With floured hands, gently roll each into a ball and arrange the buns two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours. (In my incredibly cold house, this took two hours, and it still wasn’t really done, but Walker was pushing me out the door to get to his work dinner, so we made due.)
5. Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat the remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Walker wouldn’t even wait for dinner when these were in the house. He started off his morning with a bacon, egg and cheese sandwich on these buns. When we finally got around to eating them with his burgers, he said that they were great because they were dense enough to soak up the sauces without falling apart. It kept the flavor on the burger instead of dripping off onto your plate. He also said though he felt like there was too much bread in the bread to burger ratio. I didn’t have that problem, but then again I can’t fit my mouth around that whole burger, so I was only getting half of the bread in each bite. This time around, I only had black sesame seeds in my pantry, but next time (and there will be a next time) I would definitely find some sesame seeds.