Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bread Basket: Homemade Hamburger Buns

November is National Bread Month.  I knew I loved November for reasons beyond Thanksgiving and the birthday of yours truly.  I love bread.  I mean, I REALLY love bread.  And bread loves me.  At least I like to think it does.  When Ryan and I got married, the wedding gift I gave to myself (because, hey, you should always pamper yourself every once in awhile) was a bread machine.  I love that thing.  When we moved into our house, my bread machine was the first thing I put in its proper place.  (Not to mention when we went to look at the house, I turned to Ryan and said, "Look honey!  It's the perfect spot to hold my bread machine!"  Seriously.)

I had never made bread before - ever.  But I loved bread and really wanted to try making it myself and I thought the quickest and easiest way would be to purchase a bread machine and then buy tons of cookbooks on bread machine baking.  This bread machine cookbook is by-far my favorite and go to for recipes besides the ever trusty King Arthur Flour website.  I really enjoyed baking bread in my bread machine and as time went on, I wanted to try my hand at baking breads OUTSIDE of my bread machine.  Now, kneading by hand is time consuming albeit a great upper body workout (you try kneading bread dough for ten minutes and see how you feel) and I do enjoy doing it sometimes.  Like when I'm stressed or had a really bad day and need something to beat into submission (because husbands are out of the question).  Yet there is a lovely setting on all bread machines - Dough.  Yes, you let your bread machine do all the hard work while you sip a daiquiri do housework (hehe).  This is a wonderful thing, truly.

Yeast breads seem to be a bit daunting to people and, truth be told, it was to me at first too.  But now I have it down to a science.  I know what temperature to have the water at to get the best reaction out of my yeast (which I buy in bulk, by the way).  The more you do it, the easier it becomes.  One of my greatest discoveries was how to make my own hamburger buns!  Hamburger buns!!  The recipe I use makes eight total.  Now, it's just me and Ryan so what to do with the other?  Freeze them!  They really are easy and always taste really, really good.

I'm not one of those crazy people who thinks you need to go organic for everything or only purchase gluten-free, low-fat everything.  But I do draw the line at preservatives.  I'm not a fan of them so I try to avoid them as much as I can.  And making your own bread is not only cheaper but always better for your health.  The hamburger buns you purchase at the grocery store has so many ingredients (many of which you can't pronounce unless you have a PhD in Chemistry) that its unreal.  Yet homemade hamburger buns only have SEVEN ingredients.  SEVEN!

For comparison purposes, here are the ingredients in Wonder Hamburger Buns: 
Enriched Wheat Flour [Flour, Barley Malt, Ferrous Sulfate  (Iron), B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamin Mononitrate  (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin  (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid)], Water, Sweetener (High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar), Yeast, Soybean Oil, Contains 2% or Less of Wheat Gluten, Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Dough Conditioners (May Contain Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Tricalcium Phosphate, ethoxylated Mono And Diglycerides, Datem, Dicalcium Phosphate, Mono And Diglycerides, Calcium Dioxide, and/or Sorbic Acid), Vinegar, Soy Flour, Yeast Nutrients (May Contain Ammonium Chloride, Ammonium Phosphate, Diammonium Phosphate, Ammonium Sulfate, Monocalcium Phosphate and/or Calcium Carbonate), Cornstarch, Wheat Starch, Enzymes, Calcium Propionate  (to Retain Freshness), Soy Lecithin.

I use Granular Lecithin in some of my breads to aid in preservation but that's it.  Now, how many of you can pronounce all those ingredients?  And can tell me what all they do?  Yeah, didn't think so.  If you really want to take good, active steps towards making your family healthier, baking your own breads is a very good place to start.

Homemade Hamburger Buns
courtesy of KAF's Baker's Companion

3/4 to 1 c. Water (around body temperature.  You can determine the temp the same way you do a baby bottle - feeling with the underside of your wrist.)
2 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1 Egg
3 1/2 c. All-Purpose Flour (or whole wheat)
1/4 c. Sugar
1 1/4 tsp. Salt (kosher is preferred)
1 Tbsp. Instant Yeast
1 Tbsp. Butter, melted (to brush on buns before baking)

1.  Combine all ingredients together and mix until well combined, using 3/4 c. of water to start with. 
Note:  Why the variation in the amount of water?  Well, first off, if you're using whole wheat flour, you'll need to add more water because whole wheat needs additional water to really make it cohesive.  Secondly, yeast doughs are affected by a lot of different factor - the temperature inside your house, the humidity, etc.  If your dough is too dry, you'll add a little more water or if it's too wet, you'll add more flour.
2.  Knead dough by hand for ten minutes, until you have a smooth and supple dough.  (If using a bread machine, use your machine's instruction on how to add the ingredients.  Mine is liquid-dry-yeast.)
3.  Cover and let dough rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in height.  (If using a bread machine, allow it complete its dough cycle.)
4.  Using a knife or dough scraper, sprayed with cooking spray, divide the dough into EIGHT portions (I use the pizza slicing method to make sure they're all the same size).
5.  Now you shape the dough into smooth balls (my method means turning the dough in my hand while pushing the dough inward so it gets all smooth on top).
6.  On a large baking sheet, covered in parchment or sprayed with cooking spray, evenly spread out your balls of dough.
7.  Gently press down the dough until it is about 3 to 3 1/2 inches wide.
8.  Cover the buns and allow to rise for 1 hour (they won't look doubled).
9.  While you buns are rising for the second time, preheat your oven to 375.
10. Brush with melted butter (you can top with sesame seeds now if you like!).
11. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until golden.


For more detailed instructions and pictures, please visit the King Arthur Flour Baking Banter blog.

No comments:

Post a Comment