Friday, September 26, 2008

Best Recipe for American Hamburger Buns

Where to find the best American hamburger bun in Paris? Make it yourself! It's really hard to find a good bun here in Paris. By "good" I mean fresh, light & fluffy, but with a slight resistance to the crust when you bite into it. So, I googled some recipes & found one that looked promising. It turned out to be great. This recipe comes from Joe's blog, Culinary in the Country! Thanks again for sharing a winning recipe. His is an adaption from Canadian Living, and mine is an adaptation of his adaptation...

I highly recommend this recipe to everyone. I will warn you however, that they are addictive! And habit-forming. But also very versatile. For example, I made a batch last week, and I used half the dough for buns on Friday night, half of the remaining to make pizza Saturday night, and baked off the rest as a mini-loaf on a Sunday morning. Oui!

Recipe in US measurements, see Joe's orignal post
Recipe in metric measurements, see below

Makes 12 - 16 buns, depending on what size you make them.

1) In a large bowl, proof the yeast:
This means to put tepid/slightly warm water in a bowl; stir in sugar; add yeast & let rest till nice & puffy (~ 10 min). If it doesn't do this, your yeast is dead. Don't go further! Get new yeast!

205 g water
15 g sugar
9 g yeast (dried)

2) In a medium size pan, warm the milk, butter & other ingredients:
240 g milk (demi-écremé or skim)
27 g butter
15 g sugar
10 g salt

3) Add warmed milk mixture to bowl of proofed yeast & stir.
Being an ex-scientist type, I measured the tempurature of the warmed milk mixture to be 33°C before I added it to the bowl of yeast/water mixture. Don't want to kill the yeast with too much heat! All you really want to do is melt the butter. The milk felt tepid or lukewarm when I dipped my finger in it to see (if you don't have a handy thermometer). That's all you really need.

4) Add flour, divided:
Weigh out the two portions of flour shown below. Use flour from the 435 g bowl first. Add it to the yeast 1/3 of the quantity at a time. With a wood spoon, add the first portion of flour & stir like crazy till well mixed. Then add the 2nd portion, and stir like craxy. Finally, add the 3rd portion of flour. After 435g of flour is incorporated, add a quantity of the 300 g flour until the dough is ready to be turned out onto a work surface for final kneading. (See next step.)
435 g flour
300 g flour.

5) Turn onto work surface & knead the dough.
Using a floured surface, knead the dough, and again, encorporate only as much of the remaining 300g of flour as necessary. I've found that I've used almost all of the 300g of flour (~ 250 g) to get the dough soft, supple & so that it pushes back when I put my finger in it. Whenever it's too sticky, I just add more flour, a little at a time, until it's not sticky anymore. A temperature of the dough that is between 22 - 24C means it's ready go into a greased bowl (shown in picture). No more kneading necessary! Takes less than 10 minutes.

6) Let proof.
Depending on the day's humidity, air temp, etc, this can take 45 minutes to over an hour. Be sure to put oiled plastic wrap on it. It should double in size.

7) Punch down, roll into balls, put onto baking sheet & let rise a 2nd time. Pre-heat oven to 210°C: I portioned the buns to be 75g each. When putting onto the tray, use silpat or parchment paper. Also, I pressed down to make flatter (3" in diameter, to be exact...!) Cover again with oiled film for 2nd rising.
8) Brush egg wash on top & sprinkle with toppings.
Egg wash = 1 whole egg with some water mixed with a fork (or just whites if that's all you have). Toppings I like are sesame seeds (for the traditional bun), poppy seeds, or a combo of it. My personal favorite is "everything", ie, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, garlic salt, and pepper. (That's what's pictured at the top of this post)

9) Bake 25 - 30 minutes until golden & hollow sounding when you tap the bottom. Make sure they are good & hard. They soften when they're cooled down, so don't be afraid to let them in the oven an extra 5 minutes after you think they might be done. But not too long, otherwise you risk burning or drying them out!

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