The Bun Also Rises

It is definitely grilling season here in Tucson. (Apologies to my friends who are freezing in the Southern Hemisphere!)

When I was a kid in Pennsylvania, Memorial Day weekend, in late May, defined the beginning of outdoor life.

It was the beginning of gardening season (it was finally warm enough to plant in the garden without fear of frost).

It was the beginning of summer vacation (well, almost... there were still a few weeks of school left, but it took all the energy our teachers could muster to keep their minds and ours on our studies).

It was the beginning of the swim season (all the pools opened that weekend).

And, it was the beginning of grilling season.

Every year, on Memorial Day weekend, Dad uncovered the grill and went at it with a wire brush to clean it "within an inch of its life" while he contemplated what he would grill. Steak sandwiches? Kabobs? Swordfish? Hot dogs?

Nope. Burgers. The first time always had to be burgers. And my father really knew how to cook them; they were always perfect.

The grocery store buns, however, were sorely lacking. Mushy and gummy, or dry and crumbly, or too sweet and cakey. We tried Kaiser rolls once. I don't even have words to describe how negatively we felt about them. English muffins were another disappointing attempt. They simply made a big ol’ mess..

No alternative seemed to work. I am kind of surprised that my mother never even thought of making her own buns, amazing cook that she was.

The first time I had a homemade hamburger bun was after we had moved to Tucson, and had gone back to New England for a visit.

Doreen - who you know from the early days of Cocoa & Lavender - had just moved into a new apartment and invited us and a few others for a summer cookout. As is common in New England, most cookouts are also rained out, and this one was too.

Sure it poured, but we all gathered round the kitchen table for some of the best burgers we had ever eaten, with great wine, lots of laughter, and the best of friendship.

The hamburger buns she baked were amazing, and made all the difference! They had a wonderful texture and a pleasant yeastiness that store-bought buns lack.

I made some this year on Memorial Day weekend and they were perfect. I knew right away that I needed to share the recipe with you.

Stay cool!

~ David

Homemade Hamburger Buns
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

12 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour

1 1/4 ounces potato flour
1 1/4 ounces nonfat dry milk
7/8 ounces sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces lukewarm water (approximately 105°F)

Note: it is important to weigh the dry ingredients for best results.

Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer. Combine using the paddle attachment, then using the dough hook knead for 3-4 minutes. The dough will be soft and somewhat sticky.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it's almost doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly greased surface. Divide it into 6 pieces. Knead each piece about 10 times and roll each piece into a ball.

Place the balls on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2" to 3" between them; flatten gently using the bottom of a glass tumbler.

Cover with a dish towel and let rise until the buns have doubled in size, about 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Bake the buns for 20 minutes, or until they're golden brown.

Remove them from the oven and transfer the buns to a rack to cool.

Makes 6 buns. 


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