I hate going to the grocery store for one item! Last week, Husby suggested hamburgers for dinner. I pulled out a package of organic ground beef from the freezer, and lettuce, onions, tomatoes and pickles from the fridge. All I was missing were hamburger buns, but that’s ok. It was a leisurely afternoon at home, so flour and yeast came together quickly and before I knew it the dough for home made hamburger buns was rising in a warm place in the kitchen!
Okay, so it would have taken me 15 minutes max to drive to the store, grab the buns and drive back home, but there’s the nagging fact that I have a serious dislike for the texture of gummy, doughy preservative-laden sit-on-the-shelf-for-weeks buns! I like a crisp crust with a firm body that doesn’t feel pasty on the palate when chewed. Husby claims the purpose of hamburger buns is to soak up and keep the ketchup, mustard and meat juices from running down one’s hands! Perhaps…but my home made buns are equally as capable!
I have been waiting for the opportunity to try a bun recipe I came across on Mari’s fabulous blog Once Upon A Plate. It was inspired by a recipe from the files of King Arthur Flour and a regular contributor to its recipes named Moomie! Moomie’s legendary sandwich buns recipe can be found here. With a few changes, I produced wonderful buns sprinkled with sesame seeds (and I finally figured out how to make those pesky seeds stick).
Did you know that bread baking has become a lot easier since the introduction of instant (rapid rise) yeast? No longer do we have to proof the yeast (test it to see if it is viable). You can now mix it in with the flour, add the liquids and you’re on your way! Please don’t be intimidated by yeast – it’s a leavening agent that works wonders at the right temperature, a little loving (aka kneading) and a little sugar! All you need is to do is start a little earlier so as to include time for the dough to rise. You will be rewarded with much healthier and tastier buns!
For the meaty part of the burger, I was in the mood for some zip! Zesty feta cheese and kalamata olives are staples in my fridge, and they are perfect accompaniments to the ground beef.
Feta and olive beef patties
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 – 3/4 cup feta cheese, coarsely crumbled or cubed
1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced. People - don’t even think of using rubbery, tasteless olives in a can – they are inferior by far to olives from the olive bar or in a glass jar. Yes, they are cheaper, but there is no comparison in taste, whatso e v e r!
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes for added spice (optional)
Combine all of the above ingredients by folding the meat over onto itself as you incorporate the feta and olives. Try not to mash the meat between your fingers as this will ruin the texture of the patties. Shape into 3 or 4 patties.
Sauté the patties in a hot skillet or cook them on the grill. I like to cook them in a skillet because it’s easier to flip them over without them falling apart.
Serve on a toasted bun with sliced tomatoes, caramelized red onions, lettuce, mayo…
Serves 3 or 4.
Caramelized red onion
1 large red onion, peeled, cut in half crosswise and sliced thinly
Sauté the red onion slices in a little olive oil over medium heat. Stir the onions occasionally until very soft and caramelized (they will start to turn black on the edges). Set aside.
Sesame seed buns
Yield: 8 hamburger or sandwich buns
3 1/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 egg white (for egg wash)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds or other seed of your choice
Place flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a mixer bowl with dough hook attachment. Heat water and butter to about 125F (I usually microwave in 30 second intervals and measure the temperature with a candy thermometer). With mixer at low speed, slowly pour the water mixture into the flour mixture. Add the egg. Beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until all ingredients are combined and the dough is smooth.
Place dough in a large bowl (enough to hold twice the amount of dough) greased with olive oil. Flip the dough over so that the olive oil covers the entire surface. Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel and allow dough to rise until double in volume. (I turn my oven on to barely heat the interior and place the bowl in the oven, close the door and leave it for about 30 minutes. You should see the kitchen towel rising on top of the mound of dough above the edge of the bowl. Sweet!)
When the dough has doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured surface*. Knead for a minute by hand and let it rest for about 5 minutes. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a rectangle (about 12” X 8”) and cut the dough into 8 equal pieces. For each bun – tuck the ends of each piece of dough under several times, moving the dough from hand to hand, until you get a nice round shape. Place on a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat with other pieces of dough. Cover with a sheet of wax or parchment paper and allow buns to rise until they are the size of hamburger buns. Remove wax paper from buns.
Beat the egg white and 1 tablespoon water in a bowl until loose and starting to foam. Brush the top of each bun very carefully with egg wash and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds.
Bake buns in a preheated 375F oven for 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire racks.
If you have a bread machine: Place all ingredients in bread machine. Select ‘dough’ cycle. Allow cycle to run. Remove the dough and place it on lightly floured surface. Continue from * in the third paragraph above.
Good looking buns!