by Heather Harris Brady
Even I, intrepid baker that I am, used to buy hamburger and hot dog buns without a second thought. But after increasing complaints from the dinner table about buns that were pasty/falling apart/dry and crumbly, I decided to try my hand at making my own. The good news: they are SO much better. The bad news: they are SO much better.
This means, of course, time must be found to make something that used to need just a few seconds of thought. If you make them in bulk, however, it’s manageable and with just one batch you’ll probably have at least a two-week supply if you have hot dogs or hamburgers once or twice a week. These buns stand up nicely to all the toppings; you can add cheese, flax seeds, or other yummy things to them; and they freeze well.
Basic Bun Dough, Makes about Nine Hamburger Buns and Eight Hot Dog Buns in Each Batch
4-1/2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1-3/4 c. warm water
1 pkg. quick rise yeast
1 t. sugar
1 T. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
Combine the water, yeast and sugar and let sit until foamy. Combine the yeast mixture in a bowl with the flour, salt and olive oil. Stir until well-blended. (Started at 5:45 pm, ended at 5:50 pm)
Let sit until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes in a warm kitchen.
Punch down and knead well until smooth and elastic, about three-four minutes. If it seems sticky just add flour one half-cup at a time until you get a soft but not sticky dough. (Started at 6:20 pm, ended at 6:25 pm)
Lightly grease two baking sheets. Divide the dough in half. Take one half and divide it into nine balls. Flatten each one, leaving the center slightly domed.
Divide the other half into eight balls, and roll each one into a breadstick shape before laying it on the baking sheet. (Started 6:25 pm, ended 6:35 pm)
Let rise for 15-20 minutes, or until close to doubled in bulk. Preheat the oven to 375. (Into the oven at 6:50 pm)
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the buns are a light golden brown. Brush the tops with melted butter when you take them out of the oven and cool on racks. (Out of the oven at 7:10 pm)
So with about 15 minutes of actual hands-on time I was done! If I could have started earlier, around 5 pm, they would have been ready for dinner – and hot buns right of the oven on your burger? Heaven.