If you have been a reader of Chattavore for any length of time, you probably know that I generally make my own bread, usually with whole wheat flour. While I have had a lot of success with a lot of different recipes for various breads, it took me ages to find a recipe for hamburger buns that I liked. This was really more crucial than the search for a recipe for a good bread, because I can find whole wheat bread in stores that I like but generally think that whole wheat hamburger buns that I buy in stores are mushy and cardboard-ish. When I made them at home myself, they were always too tough, too hard, and not conducive to adding toppings to my burger.
Then, this recipe came into my life. Deb from Smitten Kitchen makes the most delicious and beautiful food, and I was so excited to try her recipe for “light brioche burger buns“-with an adaptation or two, of course. What, say you, might those adaptations be? Why, I’m so glad you asked (as if you didn’t know!). King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour, plus a little bit of extra water since whole wheat flour really sucks it up. The results? Perfect. These buns are delicious! Thanks, Deb!
An hour or two before you get started with the recipe, set three tablespoons of butter out to soften.
Start by combining a cup of warm (not hot!) water, three tablespoons of warm milk (I overheated mine and had to let it cook down), two teaspoons of yeast, and 2 1/2 tablespoons of sugar (you could use honey if you wanted) and let them mingle for a few minutes while you prep your flour mixture. After a few minutes, the mixture will be nice and foamy. I tried to get a good photo of this, but was unsuccessful! You’ll also need a beaten egg.
Combine 3 1/3 cups of white whole wheat flour with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt in a bowl (as usual, I used the bowl from my Kitchenaid stand mixer). Next, work the softened butter into the flour/salt mixture by rubbing it between your fingertips, much like you would if you were making biscuits. It will look slightly “crumby” or “pebbly”.
Now, pour the yeast mixture and the egg into the bowl and stir until it comes together into a cohesive dough. If it doesn’t all come together, pour some more warm water in a tablespoon at a time until it does come together.
Turn the dough out onto a floured countertop, tabletop, etc. and knead it for several minutes. Be careful not to work in too much flour, though! If you get too much flour in the dough, you’ll end up with tough buns! Place it back into your work bowl, cover, and allow it to rise until doubled in size. I stuck the bowl into my oven (which, of course, was turned off) and it took about an hour.
Okay, now divide the dough into eight pieces. You can eyeball the size, or if you are like me, you can be neurotic and weigh the dough to make sure that each bun is equal (or at least close to equal) in weight. These were about 3.75 ounces. Roll the dough into balls and place the balls equally spaced on a parchment-lined baking tray. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick spray (this was the trickiest part of the whole process!) and cover the buns. Allow them to rise again until doubled in size.
Again, this took an hour. When I had about 20 minutes left, I preheated my oven to 400 degrees. Beat another egg and brush the tops and sides of the buns with the egg. The original recipe recommends placing a shallow pan of water on the floor of the oven. This creates steam which helps to create a crispier exterior. I forgot this step, but I think I’m glad I did. I was extremely happy with the texture of these buns!
Bake them for about 15 minutes, turning once during the baking (I baked for eight minutes, turned the pan, and baked for another seven minutes). Cool them completely on a rack. I keep mine in the freezer until I need them. Perfect!