Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Week 20: 40-Minute Hamburger Buns

I’m sure you are wondering why I have two posts in a row dealing with yeast breads, albeit very easy to make and tasty recipes. Our family loves fresh bread of any kind and there are few things better than warm steamy loaves coming out of the oven and eaten hot with melted butter dripping down your chin, at least in our estimation.

It is also something I am trying to become more comfortable with. Yeast breads can be tricky. I’ve been making cinnamon rolls for years but have rarely ventured out of that niche. Maybe I am trying to channel my husband’s grandmother, who baked a dozen or more loaves a week. All of five-foot-nothing, she had the strongest hands of any woman (and most men) that I had ever met. When she took you into her embrace, there was no squirming out of it until she was good and ready, and when she pinched your cheek, you felt it for hours. She would bake huge batches once or twice a week and deliver them to friends, relatives and would use them to barter with local farmers for produce.

I started making a 5-minute artisan bread back in April of 2012. It is one of those recipes that should delight every suburban cook. It takes very little time (ummm…5 minutes), only 4 basic ingredients and yields a hearty round loaf reminiscent of something you would buy at the bakery, similar in texture to a sourdough boule. I make it once or twice a month, much to the delight of the family. The focaccia recipe from last week has also received rave reviews from friends and family, and I have even talked several into making it themselves. Now they are hooked as well.

As for why I would even attempt hamburger buns, the rationale was twofold. I had initially planned hamburgers for dinner (topped with freshly smoked bacon and some creamy avocado) but had forgotten to buy buns. Yes, I could have driven to one of any number of stores to pick them up, or asked Butcher Son to bring me some home from Robert’s Market, but I got to wondering if I could make them. Secondly, I really am trying to learn to make a lot of what we eat from scratch. I have mastered the jam/jelly thing, pickles, salsa, tomato sauce and marinara, and even BBQ sauce. I have a number of mustards and rib rubs in my repertoire, as well as fruit syrups. I make sausage, bacon, pancetta. And of course, I am proficient with sweet baked goods. So this was just another thing to try.

I found a recipe on Taste of Home for 40-minute hamburger buns. Sure enough, within about 40 minutes I had hamburger buns. The original recipe made 12 buns, but they were only slightly larger than slider buns and not really big enough for my hamburgers, so on a second try I made 8 buns. Better, but I’m thinking that for a big juicy cowboy burger, you should just make 6. Or if the kids want sliders, you could probably get 16 perfect slider buns. The ingredients are basic pantry and fridge items, so no need to get anything fancy. The texture overall is denser than your average hamburger bun, but it doesn’t squish down like Wonder Bread and soaks up any juices that might be leaking from your burger. Overall I was very happy with the result and the recipe got the thumbs up from the family. So now it’s your turn to try.

40-Minute Hamburger Buns
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2+ cups, all purpose flour

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add oil and sugar; let stand for 5 minutes. Add the egg, salt and 3 cups flour to form a soft dough. Pour remaining 1/2 cup flour out onto counter or breadboard. Add dough and knead until smooth and elastic, about 3-5 minutes. You may need to add more flour if the dough become sticky.

Do not let rise. Divide into 8 pieces; shape each into a ball. Place 3 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Bake at 425° for 8-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yield: 8

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