Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Make Hamburger Buns at Home

Sloppy Joe, Fried Potatoes and Coleslaw
There are times when I get the urge to make something like hamburgers or Sloppy Joes and have no buns. Since I always make our bread, this is no big deal; I just make my own. I had used an old recipe from Better Homes and Gardens for a long time, no matter what I needed in the "roll" department. Once you have a basic recipe, it is very versatile. Make the dough into any shape you please, to fit the occasion. A simple roll dough can be formed into cloverleaf rolls for a nice dinner, buns for a barbecue, or even doughnuts.

Making Cloverleaf Rolls is just a matter of forming a whole lot of tiny dough balls. Fit three little balls of dough into one cup of a greased muffin pan and continue till all the little wells are filled with three dough balls. They bake in no time, being so small. Usually 12 to 15 minutes is enough. To make them extra pretty, brush them with an egg wash before baking. An egg wash can be a whole egg mixed with a couple of tablespoons of water, or an egg yolk with one tablespoon of water. 

To make buns, Use about the same amount of dough as would have been made into three of the little balls, or slightly more. I was uncertain yesterday of how much exactly was needed for each bun, having just invented the recipe. I also weighed the dough. I used just about 3 ounces per bun; this was a little bit too much. The buns turned out great, but a bit larger than usual. I got 16 buns from this recipe, but I believe it would have been better to make 20. If you have a scale, try making the balls about 2 to 2.5 ounces each.

Cloverleaf Rolls
My background is Slovak / Serbian. All my grandparents came from "the Old Country". From my Mom's Slovak side, she taught us about "Doughnut Day." Once we knew about it, every year we clamored for doughnuts. Doughnut Day is the Slovak equivalent of Mardi Gras, the day before Lent starts; the last of sweets and other excesses until Easter. And, who can resist a doughnut, hot from frying, dipped in a glaze or rolled in sugar? I mean, REALLY! 

Though my kids were born in Guatemala, where Mardi Gras was an exceedingly pale thing in comparison to, say, the wild excess of Rio, or New Orleans - I taught my kids about Doughnut Day and made doughnuts with a basic roll dough. I also, on occasion have made doughnuts or buns or cloverleaf rolls from my version of my Mom's and Grandma's Pascha. I call my version "My Kitchen Aid Mixer Bread". In essence, similar, in some exchanges of ingredients (honey for sugar, dry milk for regular milk), and the use of my Kitchen Aid Mixer to do the work. It would work with pizza dough, in a pinch. The only real difference is in the shaping. And last evening I was going to make Sloppy Joes, so I needed buns.
Hamburger Buns, ready for dinner

The other day I made Cinnamon Rolls, and had created a dough I felt would be good for that application. I am sure it would be good as a basic roll dough for any of the already mentioned uses, but yesterday I needed hamburger buns and was thinking of how tender Potato Buns can be. So I altered amounts of some ingredients and added others, using a little potato flour and made a new recipe. It has been exceptionally cold of late. All right, who am I kidding - it has been totally frigid practically since Thanksgiving, with temps soaring down to 24 below and wind chills of -50. When it is that cold, sometimes yeast doughs have a little difficulty rising as quickly as I would like, even with the use of "instant rise" yeast. In mid summer, it is a different story. Yeast doughs rise like magic. It took a little longer to get the buns to rise than sometimes, but they turned out most amazingly tender and moist. We had some really fabulous Sloppy Joes! Usually I use the oven with the light on, creating a nice, warm ambient temperature for the dough to proof. However, I had just made my Green Tea Lime Sables, and the oven was just plain HOT, so I couldn't set the dough there to rise. It took about 1 1/2 hours for the dough to rise in the cool kitchen, and at least another 45 minutes for the formed buns to rise. They baked in about 15 minutes. Here is the recipe:


Basic Potato Roll Dough

2 cups warm water, not hot
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil, or use melted butter or other oil of choice
4 cups Bread Flour, divided
1 packet Instant Rise/Rapid Rise Yeast
1/2 cup potato flour
1/4 cup dry milk powder
1 egg

Heat the water and pour into a large bowl or heavy duty stand mixer, such as Kitchen Aid. Add in the honey, salt and oil. Mix together 2 cups of the bread flour, the packet of yeast, potato flour and dry milk powder. Whisk together well, then add to the warm liquid. Start the mixer, or stir together with a spoon. Once there is a soft batter, add in the egg and beat well. Add in the remaining 2 cups of flour gradually, while either kneading with the mixer's dough hook, or by hand for at least 10 to 12 minutes. The dough may seem very stiff at first. The use of potato flour seems to start this way, but softens later in the kneading process. Set the dough into a greased bowl, turning once to allow all sides to be well oiled. Set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Punch down the dough and divide into 4 sections, as equally as possible (or weigh the dough). To make hamburger buns, further divide each section into at least 5 pieces. Form a smooth ball from each piece, then use a rolling pin to roll into a fairly flat disc about 6 inches across. The dough will shrink back on itself. Set each piece onto a greased baking sheet, with at least 3 inches between them (usually about 6 per sheet). I have large "muffin-top" pans, and use those, also. The piece of dough should overlap the little shallow well, but shrink back and fit inside.

Set the buns to rise until about double. The centers may not look completely puffed yet, but while baking they will grow. Before baking, if desired, brush the buns with an egg wash and sprinkle on sesame seeds or poppy seeds. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (325 on Convection). Bake the buns for about 15 minutes, or until puffed and brown.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.