May 14, 2018
With summertime right around the corner and the temperatures finally reaching well into the double digits, it’s time to start thinking about firing up the barbecue and eating dinner al fresco whenever possible. I can usually scrounge up some ground beef or chicken to toss on the grill, but sometimes don’t want to run out to the store to pick up a bag of buns to make burgers or grilled chicken sandwiches.
Enter this simple bun recipe—if you’re hanging around the back yard anyway, the dough doesn’t require much effort to mix together, and it can sit and rise (the warm weather will help out with that) until you’re ready to shape and slide them into the oven. A burger is only as good as its ingredients, and the bun itself shouldn’t be an afterthought—most restaurants opt for brioche-style buns, which are rich and buttery, with a soft texture that’s squishable yet substantial. It won't shatter into crumbs, and you won’t need to work too hard to get your mouth around it.
Bonus: this same dough can be used to make slider buns or long buns for grilled hot dogs or sausages—just shape them into whatever shape and size you like, keeping in mind they will rise a bit more in the oven.
Brioche Burger (or Hot Dog) Buns
This basic recipe is perfect for just about anything you’d grill and put on a bun—just shape it accordingly, keeping in mind it will rise a bit in the oven. It’s also perfect for pulled pork, and small two-bite sliders if you’re having a party.
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter
additional egg, for brushing, and/or sesame seeds (optional)
In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the water, milk, sugar and yeast. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, until it's foamy. (If it doesn't foam, the yeast is inactive— get some fresh yeast and try again!) Crack the egg into it and beat it a little with a fork to break it up.
Meanwhile stir together the flour and salt; add the butter and blend it in with a pastry blender, whisk or your fingers, rubbing it until it's crumbly, as if you were making pastry. Add the yeast mixture and stir until you have a soft dough; beat it with a dough hook in your stand mixer or knead it on a lightly floured countertop until it's nice and smooth; 5-10 minutes. It will be stickier than regular dough; resist the urge to add too much flour. Leave it tacky.
Place the ball of dough back into the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it sit for an hour or so, until doubled.
Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces (or 20 if you want smaller slider buns), shape them into balls, place them a couple inches apart on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Brush the buns with a little beaten egg if you like, and sprinkle them with sesame seeds.
Bake for 10-15 minutes (a bit longer if you made larger buns) until golden. Makes about 10 buns.
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