It's Burger Time!
Memorial Day is in the rear view mirror. School is done for the year. Family travel is on the rise. What do all of these things signal to us? Summer is here!! And summer means cook-outs. Sliced watermelon, potato or macaroni salad, iced tea. And the star of the show? Hamburgers and hot dog cooked to perfection on the grill. If you are like the vast majority of people, these popular summertime proteins are usually served on buns. But unlike most people, you have baked those buns yourself rather than picking up a couple of packages at the supermarket. Wait ... what?? Yes!! Homemade burger buns! Trust me, once you have tried these homemade buns, you won't want to buy them from the market again.
The recipe for these tasty wonders comes from King Arthur Flour. It is easy and delicious. Ready? Here we go. In a bowl mix together about 7 ounces of lukewarm water, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 large egg, 3-1/2 cups of AP flour, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1-1/4 teaspoons of table salt and 1 TABLESPOON of instant yeast. Yes, I said tablespoon. You can mix these ingredients together by hand, in a bread machine or in a stand mixer. I use my trusty stand mixer. You want to mix and knead the ingredients until the dough is soft and smooth. This should take about 7 minutes of mixing/kneading on speed no. 2 on a KitchenAid stand mixer.
After mixing/kneading the dough, put it in a bowl, cover it and let it rise until it is nearly doubled in bulk. This should take anywhere from one to two hours, depending on the temperature of your kitchen. My dough needed about 90 minutes to rise.
When the dough has risen, turn it out onto your shaping surface and divide it into 8 equally sized pieces. The easiest and most accurate way to do this is to use a kitchen scale. I know the weight of my dough bucket so once the dough is ready for shaping, I weigh the bucket with the dough. After subtracting out the weight of the bucket, I know the weight of the dough. I divide that number by eight to get the weight for each bun. Using my scale again, I divide the dough into eight equal pieces.
Shape each piece of dough into either a ball, if you're making burger buns, or small log, if you're making hot dog/sausage buns, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet. I served hot sausage for Memorial Day so the buns in the photos are shaped in an elongated fashion to accommodate a sausage. This dough is very easy to work with so shaping the buns is a breeze. Flatten each piece of dough, cover them and let them rise for approximately one hour. The buns will be noticeably puffy but they won't double in bulk.
About 30 minutes into the second rise, turn on your oven to preheat to 375 degrees. Melt three tablespoons of butter. I used salted butter for added flavor. You can use unsalted butter if you prefer. Just prior to baking, brush the risen buns with half of the melted butter. This will promote browning.
Bake the buns for 15 to 18 minutes until they are golden brown. Your kitchen will smell fantastic! Remove the buns from the oven and transfer them to a rack to cool. Immediately after you slide the buns onto the rack, brush them with the remaining melted butter. This will make the crust of the bun soft, not mushy, and buttery. Delish!
There you are! Eight beautiful, delicious buns for your cook-out or picnic. Once your guests taste these gems, they'll be asking you to supply the buns for the next family get-together. And that is no problem for you because you are the family baker; right? Need more than eight buns? No worries. These buns freeze very well so make what you need ahead of time and stash them in the freezer until you are ready for them. Happy baking dear friends!