Hamburger & Hotdog Buns from Scratch

First off, throw out the misconception that this is back-breaking work OR too time consuming.  Both are not true.  Also, don't even get the notion in your head that you are going to need a rolling pin and cutter.  Those recipes I think are created by people who have nothing better to do than make us all feel like we will never measure up.  I sometimes imagine these individuals in board rooms drumming up recipes to make us feel inadequate.

The truth is, hamburger buns should be just like the hamburger itself - EASY!  Don't overthink or overwork your food here.  You will find that the recipe here is a little different, some of you may get scared and think you will have to ingest additional cholesterol medication, but that is not the case.  The reality is is that although I am using heavy whipping cream in the recipe, I have omitted the butter.  The end result is light and flaky, makes it easier to eat the burger.  You shouldn't have to bite down like a vice grip for a burger.  The bun should act as the vessel so your teeth effortlessly sink through your masterpiece.  These do not resemble anything you can purchase at your local grocery store - the flavor on these will remind you of home and  are subltely complex.

I used a simple egg/cream wash on top for added browning and sprinkled them with hulled sesame seeds.  You don't want these to get too brown, baking time is shortened on these.  This recipe makes 16 regular-sized buns, or 32 slider-sized buns. 

3 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup sugar
5 tsp. yeast
2 tsp. salt
5 1/2 cups bread flour

Egg wash:
1/2 cup cream
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
sesame seeds - for garnish

We are going to start out by proofing our yeast.  In a liquid measuring cup, add 1 cup heavy cream and sugar - stir with a fork to dissolve sugar into cream.  Microwave for around one minute, or until warm.  Not too hot, it should feel warm or lightly hot to your pinkie finger.  If it is hot, let it cool until warm.  It is ONLY at this time that I put in my yeast.

I whisk the mixture together to incorporate it and I walk away for a couple minutes. A watched pot never boils. After a couple minutes when I come around again, I should have a foam beginning to build on the top of my milk mixture. This means we are ready to go on the rest. If you do not have this, you need new yeast.

My next step with anything I am making is that I put all of the ingredients MINUS the flour into the bowl. THEN I add the flour.  I place the dough hook onto my mixer and turn it on low to medium depending on what I am making. Then, I watch. You want to begin to see that the mixture is coming together. Patience here my friend, don't try to rush it along by putting it on high. Be thankful that you aren't having to do this by hand. Grab a cocktail and take a sip while you let the mixer do the work for you. After about a minute, maybe two you will see it forming together - creating a mass so to speak.

Look into the bottom of the bowl at this point and see if it is sticking. If it is, take 1/4 to 1/2 cup flour and put it in the bowl. Watch again until this flour gets incorporated fully. Look into the bottom of your bowl again for sticking, or is it coming clean? If not, add that scant amount of flour again and repeat.

Once you see that it is no longer sticking to the bottom of the bowl, let the dough hook do its' work for another minute or two then turn it off.

NOTE: The amount of flour you use today will vary from the amount of flour you use in two months, where you live or what brand you use. Getting to know this method will be the key to your success in making dough

Remove the dough hook and the bowl from the mixer. I remove the dough from the bowl and butter the inside of the bowl, then roll the dough around to get it buttered on all sides. I cover the bowl and place into an oven. I then set the oven to 200 degrees and set my timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes I turn the oven off and set the timer for one hour.

After that hour, I remove the dough from the cozy oven it has been rising in. I then place it into the desired form I need and allow it to rise for another 30 minutes until I am ready to bake it off.  Here for the buns, I am going to initially form it into a ball, then using a knife, but the amount of sections I desire.  16 for regular or 32 for mini's.  I then take the ball and with an undertucking motion take the dough from the top, down the sides and pinch it underneath to create a smooth top - the bottom is not going to be seen.

I let these rise again for another 30 minutes and then brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes on a silpat-lined sheet, or until desired browning.

Another suggestion, I always, always, always (did I say always?) use a whisk to sift my flour for any recipe. This means taking your whisk and plunging it into the flour and moving it around to lighten it and incorporate air. This means you don't over flour your recipe. You can always add more, but trying to fix a dense or heavy recipe is not easy.

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