Burger Buns with Sesame

Jeff misses my baking. A year ago at this time, when Gabriella was just a bump, I was baking like crazy. Pies, tarts, breads came out of our kitchen on a weekly basis. Two blueberry pies, quick breads, yeast breads, a half dozen or so savory tarts — it was kind of bizarre, really. Then Gabi was born. We fell into the black hole of new parenthood. We lived on take-out and jarred pasta sauce. A few months later, I started to cook again.

But bake? That’s Jeff sitting next to me sulking. I haven’t baked much at all this year. With time ticking on my maternity leave (T-minus two weeks and counting), I’m bound and determined to do a few more things in the kitchen before heading back to work. That includes bake. And so, I made burger buns the other day.

Why burger buns? We were smoking brisket. We expected to have sandwiches for days (and oh boy, did we ever!), and we wanted the buns to be as good as the meat.

Sure, you can buy great burger buns from a good bakery. You can’t, however, buy the yeasty smell of fresh buns baking in your kitchen. You certainly can’t buy the satisfaction of having made them yourself.

These are fairly easy as far as yeast bread goes. The dough isn’t sticky. There is some kneading involved. I choose to knead them by hand, but you can use a stand mixer for the the job, too.

Burger Buns with Sesame
The Bread Bible

1 3/4 cups warm water (105 – 115 degrees F)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk powder
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 1/2 to 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour
1 large egg beaten, with 2 teaspoons water, for glazing
1/2 cup sesame seeds

In a small bowl pour in 1/2 cup of the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast and 1/2 teaspoon sugar over the water. Stir to dissolve and let stand at room temperature until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl using a whisk or in the work bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups water, dried milk, the remaining sugar, salt, butter and yeast mixture. Add 2 cups of the flour. Beat hard until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until a soft, shaggy dough that just clears the sides of the bowl is formed. Switch to a wooden spoon when necessary when mixing by hand.

Turn the dough out onto a light floured work surface and knead for about 4 minutes, dusting with flour only 1 tablespoon at a time as needed to make a smooth and soft dough. (If kneading by machine, switch from the paddle to the dough hook and knead for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and springs back with pressed. If desired, transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead briefly by hand.)

Place the dough in a greased deep container. Turn once to coat the top and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/4 hours.

Gently deflate the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Grease or parchment-line a baking sheet. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. Shape each into a tight round ball and place each ball seam side down and at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use a second baking sheet rather than crowd the rolls. Flatten each ball with your palm. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 20 minutes.

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Brush each roll with the egg glaze and sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds. Place the baking sheet on a rack in the center of the oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until slightly brown and firm to the touch. Transfer the rolls immediately to a cooling rack. Cool completely before splitting.

Makes 12 rolls


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