A few weeks ago, I had thawed some nice grass-fed ground beef for hamburgers and needed to pick up some buns. I'm in the habit of buying the ones from the grocery-store bakery (lacking any good local bakeries that would bake them from scratch), but as I reached for the package that afternoon, the thought crossed my mind that I should be making my own. I have a perfectly good recipe, proven and simple. So here you are, just in time for 4th of July cookouts.
Long before Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken became marysueandsusan, they were a couple of young punks with a well-regarded restaurant in LA. I never ate at City Restaurant, but I bought their cookbook City Cuisine shortly after it was first published in 1989. Twenty-odd years later, it remains one of the workhorses of my collection; its recipes must have been way ahead of their time, as they feel perfectly contemporary now. I've made their hamburger buns over and over for special use, but never thought to bake and freeze them for workaday hamburgers. Duh.
These buns have a fairly tight crumb, but remain light if ever so slightly chewy. The flavor is well-developed from the long rest of the dough, and there's a nice richness from the butter, with just a hint of sweetness.
The recipe is quick and simple, easily mixed up and left overnight in the fridge for baking in the morning, or mixed up in the morning and baked just in time for supper. You can mix the dough by hand, but a stand mixer will whip these up in a flash.
(adapted from City Cuisine)
Makes 8 – 10 buns.
1 cup boiling water
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1/3 cup warm water
2 eggs (1 beaten for dough, 1 reserved for egg wash)
3 1/2 cups AP flour
Coarse salt and seeds (poppy, sesame, or nigella) for sprinkling
In a large bowl, combine boiling water, butter, sugar, and salt. Set aside to cool until lukewarm.
Stir yeast into warm water in a small bowl. Set aside until foamy, then stir into water/butter mixture. Add beaten egg and 1 cup flour. Beat at low speed until batter is smooth and free of lumps. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled and foamy (about 30 minutes).
Add remaining flour and beat until mixture becomes elastic (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a large buttered plastic container with a lid, cover and refrigerate for 8 hours (or overnight). Occasionally check dough and punch down.
After 8 hours (or the next day), punch down dough and divide into equal-sized pieces – 10 for smaller buns, 8 for larger buns. Knead each piece lightly and form into a tight ball. Place shaped buns on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving space between them. Set aside at room temperature until doubled in size, 30 – 45 minutes.
Heat the oven to 375°F. Beat reserved egg with a few drops of water or milk and use to lightly brush tops of buns. Sprinkle with coarse salt and seeds.
Bake until lightly browned (15 – 20 minutes). Seat aside to cool.
However it is you opt to celebrate your independence, have a happy 4th!