In our house, hamburgers are welcome anytime of year (learn how to make the perfect hamburger here). And homemade hamburger buns even more so. Actually, heating up the oven during a February snowstorm makes more sense than during a July heat wave… Hamburger buns are great for holding more than just hamburgers, too. You could easily use these buns for any sandwich fillings. Or not. The other day, we ate these hot out of the oven, simply smeared with butter and honey. I’d highly recommend it.
This recipe is actually just a basic yeast dough. It works great for buns, cinnamon rolls, dinner rolls, or loaves of bread. Adjust the sugar to suit your taste and feel free to add a cup of whole wheat flour in place of the all-purpose flour. I often add some flaxseed and flaxmeal as well.
If you are new to baking with yeast, start out with Artisan Bread in Five Minutes or No-Knead Bread. Once you have the hang of those recipes, you are ready for more hands-on time with the dough. I know many of you are intimidated at the thought of baking with yeast, but it really is a much friendlier ingredient than it gets credit for.
I will walk you through the steps to prove that it requires no fancy footwork or trick photography. You can do this! The results are well worth the effort. Ok, here we go. I’ll give you the step by-step-directions, followed by a more concise, printer-friendly recipe.
This dough has seven basic ingredients: warm water, yeast, sugar, salt, melted butter, an egg, and flour.
You can combine the ingredients by hand, electric mixer, or bread machine. For hand or mixer, place the warm water in the bowl. Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the yeast and let it sit for about five minutes. Turn the mixer on and add the salt, melted butter, and egg.
Slowly stir in the flour, one cup at a time, until a soft, smooth dough forms. Knead it for a few minutes (by hand or with the dough hook). The dough will be very wet and sticky, but resist the urge to dump in more flour. This will give you lighter, fluffier bread.
Using well floured hands, quickly form the dough into a ball. Coat your bowl with cooking spray and place the dough ball back in it. Cover the bowl with a towel and place it in a warm place to rise (about 40 minutes).
Allow the dough to rise to about double its size. Gently deflate the dough and you’re ready to go!
Now you’re ready to shape the dough into whatever form you want. If you want to keep it simple for starters, roll it up into a loaf shape and stick it in a greased loaf pan. Done! You can get more creative as your confidence grows.
I’m going to demonstrate rolls and buns here. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions (each will be slightly smaller than a tennis ball).
For shaping rolls, here’s a quick tip I learned in a camp kitchen. Place the dough ball in the palm of your hand. Cup it against a clean, dry (not floured) surface. Keeping your fingers cupped in a cage around the dough, move your hand in a small circular motion. Using your palm, keep constant pressure on the dough against the surface. Several quick circles, and you will end up with perfectly shaped rolls.
If you want to make dinner rolls, just place them evenly spaced on a greased baking sheet. Cover with a towel and let them rise until doubled before sliding them into a preheated 375-degree oven. You can place hot, homemade rolls on the dinner table in just over 2 hours, start to finish. Your family will adore you for it, I promise.
If you want to make (hamburger) buns, you simply need to flatten the rolls. I just smack each roll several times like I’m playing the bongo drums. Whack, whack, whack. Vent your frustrations! Take it out on the dough; it can handle it! This is cheap therapy at its best. The buns don’t have to look perfect, and they will still taste delicious.
Cover with a towel and let them rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40-60 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. If you want to get super fancy, brush melted butter on the tops and sprinkle the buns with sesame seeds or onion flakes. Bake until lightly browned; don’t overbake or they will be dry.
That’s all there is to it. Master this basic recipe, and you will be able to crank out delicious baked goods from your own oven, changing up the ingredients and shapes to suit your family. The results will be far superior to anything you can pick up in the grocery store.
You will be using real ingredients, saving money, and gaining confidence in the kitchen. Now that’s a winning combination in my book.
Beautiful Burger Buns
adapted from a King Arthur flour recipe
(follow this link and read the comments for more tips & variations)
yield: 8 buns
1 c. warm water
2 T. sugar
1 T. yeast
1 t. salt
2 T. butter, melted
3 1/4 c. flour
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the sugar & yeast over the warm water; let sit for 5 minutes. Add the salt, egg, and melted butter.
- With the mixer running on low, slowly stir in the flour, a cup at a time until a soft dough is formed. Knead the dough in the mixer for several minutes.
- With lightly floured hands, shape the dough into a rough ball. Coat the inside of the mixing bowl with cooking spray. Place the dough ball back into the bowl, and let it rise in a warm place until doubled. Divide into 8 pieces and form into rolls or buns.
- Let rise on a greased baking sheet for 30-40 minutes. If desired, brush with melted butter or egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds or dried onion flakes.
- Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until light brown on the tops. Cool on a rack.
If you are looking for more great baking recipes (over 400!), check out The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook. It is available at Amazon and has a 4.8-star rating with over 140 reviews. This is a great cookbook for everyone from beginners to expert bakers.
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