Wednesday, 25 July 2012

No fun without a bun - burgers and hot dogs

Oh dear, so much for all the things I had hoped keeping this blog might do for me...six months without an update?
OK, so perhaps I need to work on my punctuality if I want to actually keep any readers of this happy, and perhaps getting into some sort of rhythm would help with that...but we'll see.

Readers coming over from TSR will no doubt have heard me complain endlessly about how I've tried to make burger buns again and again, and every time they had some sort of problem with them. The very first time I attempted a burger bun recipe was when I was in uni. Around seven years and many, many attempts later (a lot of which were more like bricks than buns), I have finally managed to get something that tastes sublime and that I can (reliably) make successfully. Hurray for persistence! Not only that, but they make damn good hot dog rolls as well...and the recipe is so simple, as well.

Right, well, I suppose I'll stop waffling and get on with providing you with the recipe, shall I?

  • 170g strong white flour
  • 110ml milk (at room temperature)
  • 1 tsp yeast (fast-action)
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 25g butter (softened)

Recipe (makes four buns)
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the milk and butter. Mix the ingredients until they form a ball of dough and knead for 5-10 minutes.
Place in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm, dry place for the yeast to do its work for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size.
Knock back the dough and divide into four equal pieces. You may have noticed that 170:110 is a little on the wet side (a dough with a nice workable consistency that can keep its shape when moulded freeform will be around 100:60 for the ratio of flour to liquid, and this one has slightly more liquid in it, at around 100:65). The dough shouldn't be too wet that this is an issue, but partly to be on the safe side and avoid the dough expanding outwards too much and the resulting baked item being as flat as a pancake, and partly because it gives consistently-sized results, I grease a square 20cm sandwich tin with a liberal coating of olive oil and use it as a container from here on. For burger buns I take each chunk of dough, roll it in my hands to form a ball and flatten the ball before placing it in one corner of the sandwich tin. For hot dog buns instead of flattening the ball it'll be rolled out into a long sausage shape - you may find it easier to do this in two steps by rolling them all out into rough sausage shapes first and leaving them to rest (and allowing the gluten to relax) for a minute while you do the same with the rest before rolling them further so they're about 18-19cm long and just fit lengthways into the sandwich tin (they may shrink back a little bit if the gluten won't cooperate, but it's not a big deal). Place the flattened balls or long sausages into the sandwich tin, evenly spaced out. Don't worry if they are or aren't touching each other or the sides of the tin, because they will expand outwards as well as rising upwards.
Very loosely cover the sandwich tin with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise again. The total rising time should be around 60-90 minutes, and I just check on it every 15-30 minutes to see how it's going; when the dough has risen enough that it's starting to touch the clingfilm, I take the clingfilm off and lightly drape it over again. The clingfilm is there to stop the dough from drying out, but if it's too tight around the edges of the sandwich tin then it'll prevent the dough from rising up and you'll end up with a single big blob of dough rather than four individual pieces that can be torn apart once baked.
With 15 minutes of the rising left, pre-heat the oven to around 180-190°C / 350-375°F / gas mark 4-5. Once the rising time has elapsed, put the sandwich tin in the oven (I place it on a baking tray just to make it easier to take in/out) and bake the buns for around 25 minutes. Once baked, they should be really nicely golden brown on top and with the coating of oil in the tin they should pop out of there without any difficulty. Place on a wire rack to cool. Optionally at this point, you can melt some butter and use a pastry brush to glaze the buns, which will give them a glossier finish, but I don't believe it to be essential. In the above pictures you can judge for yourself by comparing the burger buns with the glaze to the hot dog buns without.

To all my readers, I hope you enjoy summer just that little bit more by eating burgers and hot dogs with your own homemade buns, and hopefully I won't abandon this blog for another six months again. Byebye for now.

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