Burgers were big in the major food sections this week as everyone gears up for the summer, which is widely regarded as prime burger season. The NY Times recommended grinding your own meat for the best burger (it can be done in a food processor). The Washington Post likes their burgers a little thinner and leaner. Epicurious likes red-leaf lettuce on theirs and iFoods has an instructional video to help the process along. Elise makes hers in a grill pan, rather than a bbq grill and The Food Geek has a tried-and-true veggie burger recipe. Bigger is always better as far as Carl’s Jr, which introduced a new burger, is concerned and a restaurant in Colorado is keeping a controversial “wopper” on their menu.
The bottom line? Make burgers the way you like them and enjoy. I took some advice from Paula Deen when coming up with my great burger strategy, but if you buy good ingredients, good toppings and make a good bun, you should come out with something delicious – even if it isn’t quite perfect.
When I’ve written about making hamburger buns (and hot dog buns)in the past, I generally left out any sort of instructions for making the filling. Basic hamburgers are made with ground beef, which is seasoned and grilled over a relatively high heat, leaving a juicy inside and a patty with very slightly crisp edges.
The timing for grilling hamburgers varies so widely that I won’t even offer suggestions as to how long you should cook you meat, but I will share a few tips on how to ensure that your burger is flavorful and juicy.
Everybody is interested in whole grain everything these days. While I am interested in having plenty of whole grains in my diet, I’m not that interested in having things that are enriched with whole grains, like a cereal that has 5% whole wheat flour or something. I like my grains to be either soft and white or totally wheaty. This isn’t to say that I don’t often mix flours for texture and flavor in my breads, because I do. I just don’t call it something it’s not.
These rolls are exactly what they say they are: 100% whole wheat flour buns. I started off the dough with little direction. I didn’t know whether I wanted to do dinner rolls or a loaf of bread. At some point (most likely while I looked at the ground beef in my refrigerator), I thought “this would make a great hamburger bun.” And so it does.
These buns have a great texture, a slightly crisp crust that softens as it cools and a moist, light interior. The rolls are satisfyingly flavorful, with just enough sugar to cover any hint of bitterness that whole wheat doughs can sometimes have and not make the bread sweet. The plainness of the roll makes it very useful. It soaked up the hamburger juices beautifully, but would make a great cold sandwich roll, too. It can also be used to simply sop up marinara sauce or topped with butter and jam.
Store leftovers in an airtight container or a plastic bag. They’ll be good for at least day or two longer.
I have never been a big fan of store-bought hot dog buns. I know that the sumber one complaint about them is that buns are sold in packages of 8, while many hot dogs are sold in packs of only 7, but that doesn’t bother me too much. Who hasn’t over-toasted a bun and been glad for the extra? I say that it’s good planning. What bothers me is that they are never the right size for the the sausage. They’re usually too long or are so bready as to overwhelm the hot dog. I also take issue with the buns being overly soft or stale.
But I love hot dogs and, carb lover that I am, I am unwilling to eat them plain.
Making buns has one huge advantage over store bought, besides freshness, taste and fun: customisation. You can make the buns in the precise shape and size to fit your sausages. If you are using a spiced sausage, you can include a tablespoon or two of fresh, chopped herbs. As with any bread product, the variations are endless.
The recipe came from King Arthur Flour, but I halved the recipe instead of making a full batch. I also found that they called for a bit too much flour and that the dough was not “slack”, though they descrbed it that way. I estimated the amount of oil I added, so it was probably a bit less than stated. The directions below are given for an electric mixer, though you can certainly mix this by hand. I also tried to elaborate on shaping.
I really enjoyed the fact that I got to practice shaping dough while I made these. I am very confident with round loaves now, but, more often than not, my shaped breads look a bit rough. This dough was very soft and easy to work with. It wasn’t sticky, but it was easy to pinch the seams together to create smooth buns. I strongly feel that the only way to get good at shaping is to practise. This is a perfect chance to do so because you get 9 tries in one batch of dough! If it doesn’t work out on your first try or two, you have many more to work on. And you can always eat your mistakes because the buns tastes great. Once you’re good to go with the rolls, you’ll be happy to know that they also stand up to condiments without getting soggy.