Ever since I had the hot dog and burger buns from a local bakery (Bennison’s, for anyone in the Chicago or Evanston area) last summer, I’ve been wanting to make my own. Bennison’s are sublime, but the store doesn’t always sell them, so it would be hit or miss if I had a burger craving on the weekend.
I finally got around to making some, and they are just as good as I had hoped. Toasted on the grill, they are just the right amount of soft/sweet/chewy to compliment a perfectly charred (but still juicy) burger or a blistered hot dog or sausage. One of these with a spicy Italian sausage, grilled onions, mushrooms, and peppers…bliss, I tell you. Bliss on a blissful bun.
I don’t know why it took me so long to make these or why I was nervous. They’re basically sandwich bread in a different shape, and I make a damn good sandwich bread, if I say so myself (another recipe I’ll have to post at some point). They also freeze well, so yay, buns in the freezer for whenever the grill calls to me–which is quite often this time of year.
Whole Wheat Hot Dog/Burger Buns
Makes 8-10 buns, depending on size
- 1 cup warm water, heated to around 110 degrees (I actually used 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup whey, leftover from a yogurt experiment the week before)
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoon sweetener (I use half honey and half white sugar)
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast (a package is usually 2 1/4 t, so you can either use the whole package, or throw out the 1/4 t leftover. Or just buy the jar of yeast)
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1.5-2 cups combination of white and whole wheat flour (I usually end up with about half white and half wheat flour, but I think this can take even more whole wheat flour, if you’re so inclined)
- 1 egg
- Sesame, poppy, or other seeds or toppings
Pour the yeast in the bottom of a mixing bowl and add a little of the warm water and a pinch of the sugar to wake up the yeast. Let that sit while you combine the rest of the warm water, milk, butter, sugar, honey, eggs, and salt in a measuring cup. Once the yeast is happy and bubbly, add the rest of the liquid to the mixing bowl.
I use a KitchenAid mixer for the rest, but you can do this by hand too. Slowly add the bread flour with the mixer on low with the dough hook, then begin adding the white and wheat flour in alternating 1/4 cupfuls until the dough comes together (depending on humidity, you may not need the whole 2 cups). Knead for 5-8 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is sticking to the bowl. Eventually it should be moist, but not sticky. Coat the dough with a little olive oil, cover with a towel, and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled.
After the dough has risen, dump it onto a wood cutting or pastry board, punch it down and knead a few times. Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces–10 seems to give me the most reasonably sized buns, but you can do 8 if you want monster buns. For burger buns, shape the dough into balls and flatten them a bit with your fingers. For hot dog buns, stretch the dough to about the length of the hot dogs/sausages you plan to use, and flatten them a bit as well. Place the buns about 2-3 inches apart on two parchment-lined baking sheets, cover with towels, and let rise for another 1 1/2-2 hours until nicely puffy.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and prepare a METAL (NO GLASS!) baking pan with a few inches of water in the bottom. Once the oven hits 400, put the pan on the floor of the oven to begin creating steam. Whisk up an egg with a bit of water and brush it over the now-risen buns and sprinkle with seeds, if using. Put the buns in the oven, and bake for about 10 minutes. Rotate the pans and bake for another 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top. Cool on a rack, and either store in an airtight container for a few days, or slice and freeze.