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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homemade Hamburger Buns

No joke, every single person who ate them, raved about them.  They turned up the class factor a notch on our Sloppy Joes.  Actually, it's almost like they were made for them.  You know that feeling...that messy, squishy, sloppy (go figure)...feeling when you're half way through your Sloppy Joe.  Your store bought bun has begun to wither under the juices.  These buns will not do that.

While these buns have a sexy golden crust on the outside that holds up to those juices, the insides are tender and amazing at soaking up some of those same juices.  I'm not saying you're not gonna lose the loose meat out the sides when you take a bite.  I'm not changing the name to "Tidy Joes" or anything...just offering you a fighting chance, is all.  These are going to be a permanent fixture in our house.

Hamburger Buns
slightly adapted from Williams-Sonoma via I like to Cook
makes 12 regular-sized buns or 36 petite (slider) buns

    1½ c. milk
    8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
    4½ tsp. active dry yeast
    4 c. all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
    5 Tbs. sugar
    1 Tbs. kosher salt

    1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water
    Sesame seeds and/or Poppy Seeds, for sprinkling (optional)

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk and butter and heat until the butter is melted, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to 105° - 115°F. Add the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the 4 cups flour, the sugar and salt and beat on low speed until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the milk mixture and knead until the dough forms a ball, ~1 minute. My dough was pretty sticky, so I added a little more flour at a time until it just came away from the bowl.  I didn't want it to get stiff, but I wanted it to be workable. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4-5 minutes. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl, oil the inside of the bowl and return the dough to the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, ~1 hour.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 10x7½" rectangle. I found that I didn't even need to use a rolling pin.  I was able to just push this dough out to the right size using my hands.  The dough was an absolute dream to work with!  Using a ruler as a guide, cut the dough into 2½" squares. We all loved the square artisan-look of these buns, but if you prefer a round bun, I see no reason why you couldn't form each one into a ball before placing on the tray.  Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, spacing the buns evenly apart, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.
Remove the plastic wrap from the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, if using. Bake until the buns are golden (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a bun should read 190°F) 14-16 minutes. Transfer the buns to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut in half and use as hamburger buns.
For slider buns: Follow the instructions above but roll out the dough into a 9-inch square. Cut into 1½" squares and place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes. Position 1 rack in the upper third of an oven and 1 rack in the lower third and preheat to 400°F. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or poppy seeds, if using. Bake for about 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and 180 degrees halfway through baking.