You know how sometimes you need a hug from that one person? Not just any person. A specific person. It seems in that moment like it’s the only thing that will make you feel better. You might get a hundred hugs from other people, but it just isn’t the comfort and snugglyness you are looking for and it just feels a bit, well, flat really. Well I feel the same way about hamburger buns. I’m very particular, and when I’m craving a soft, squishy, yeasty bun nothing else will do. Now as any red-blooded bread-o-phile will know, indulging our particular passion in China is easier said than done. The Chinese like their bread on the sweet and cakey side and even though a growing number of patisseries are now starting to cater for those who like a more chewy, yeasty bread, they normally take the form of baguettes or ciabattas. Hamburger and hot dog buns are still a rarity. Fortunately, you can find everything you need for baking your own rolls at most supermarkets. If, like me, you have given up on finding yeast, fear not! I found it in the aisle next to the peanut butter and mayo. Go figure.
This recipe makes the perfect hamburger bun. To my taste anyway. Like that essential hug they are firm with just the right amount of give to make them squishy, they smell wonderful and they aren’t crusty. Erm. Okay, the similarity probably ended with smelling lovely. This recipe was shamelessly copied from Serious Eats, without changing a thing (other than replacing the dry milk with 4 heaped tablespoons of Cremora as I did not have milk powder on hand). For these burgers I made a few pure beef patties, a creamy basil pesto sauce and some mixed root vegetable fries. Who says money can’t buy happiness?
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (37°C)
- 2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
- 1/3 cup melted butter, cooled
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- one package of active dry yeast
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- oil, for bowl
- 2 tablespoons milk
1) Place the warm water, dry milk, butter, and sugar in a large mixing bowl, and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast over the mixture, whisk, and let stand until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes.
2) Add egg, 1 egg yolk, 2 cups flour and salt. Whisk until smooth. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and stir with a wooden spoon. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands. Add up to another 1/2 cup flour until dough is tacky when pinched but not sticky. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for a few minutes. Let stand 10 minutes.
3) Knead dough again until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Punch down dough and divide in half. Cut each half into sixths and form flattened balls. Arrange buns 3 inches apart on oiled baking sheets. Cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
4) Preheat the oven to 200°C. Whisk remaining egg yolk and milk and brush egg wash lightly over buns. Bake until golden and hollow sounding when tapped, 13 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.