Hamburger buns are pretty easy to make at home, but it does take a little patience. What they lack in timesaving, though, they make up for in superb flavor. Homemade hamburger buns will taste fresher and better than anything you can find at the grocery store, and if you choose to make them with healthy whole grains, you’ll have a leg up on the nutrition factor, too. If you happen to make too many, these buns also make delicious breakfast toast.
To make the dough sponge, you will need:
• 1 cup warm milk (If you need to proof your yeast, reduce the milk to 3/4 cup, and proof yeast in 1/4 cup warm water.)
• 4 tbsp unsalted butter, partially melted in the warmed milk
• 3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
• 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
• 1/4 tsp instant yeast*
• 2 tbsp potato flour (You could substitute instant potato buds.)*
• 1/4 cup King Arthur’s dry milk*
• 3 tsp King Arthur’s Whole Grain Bread Improver
To make the dough, you will need:
• 1/4 cup warm water
• 2 tsp instant yeast
• 1 1⁄4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
• 2 tbsp sugar
• 1 1⁄2 tsp salt
• 1 egg white beaten with 1 tbsp water
• Sesame seeds, oat flakes, or other whole/milled seeds and grains of your choice
* These additives are optional, but yield lighter, more flavorful buns. If you don’t use them, add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 cup all-purpose flour.
1. The night before baking, mix sponge ingredients and allow to rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 2 hours. Scrape the contents of the bowl to the bottom, and push plastic wrap down over the sponge to keep it from drying out. Cover with a towel and leave out in a draft-free area. In a separate bowl, pour a little water over any hard seeds or grains that you plan to use as topping, and let them soak overnight. Softer seeds can be added dry.
2. In the morning, mix the yeast into the warm water, and work that mixture into the sponge. Then mix in the remaining dough ingredients. Knead the dough (in a stand mixer or by hand) until it is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes in a mixer). If the dough is unmanageably sticky, add a few more tablespoons of flour. If it’s too dry, add a little water.
3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap first, and then a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for about an hour, until it has doubled in bulk. If you plan to include a seed topping on your buns, this is a good time to take out an egg and let it come up to room temperature before separating the white.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 6 pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball and place it in a lightly greased bun pan. (Find a perfect bun pan at King Arthur Flour.) Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap and a towel, and let the buns rest for about 10 minutes. Then remove the towel only and press down on the tops. Replace the towel and let rise until puffy, about an hour.
5. Just before baking, remove the plastic wrap and brush each bun top with the egg white/water mixture, and sprinkle with desired topping.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake buns for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven, pop them out of the pan with a spatula, and cool on a wire rack. Yields 6 buns.
For more hamburger-bun making tips, and a handful of different recipes, check out Delicious, Homemade Whole-Grain Hamburger Buns.