Memorial Day Baking

This was a necessary three-day weekend. After the whirlwind of law school graduation with families in town and much celebration, I immediately jumped into a week-long, full-day intro to the multi-state portion of bar review and ended the week exhausted. Then I woke up early on Saturday to run 10 miles. All I could think about yesterday was baking. After buying The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and finally getting over my fear of yeast, I really find baking bread over the course of a Saturday to be very relaxing.

While some recipes can be overwhelming because of the amount of time that they take, they really have a lot of hands off time which makes for a perfect Saturday afternoon. With Memorial Day upon us, the summer grilling season is officially kicked off, so I decided to make hamburger buns from scratch. These are classic white bread buns, without all the scary ingredients and preservatives. In the future I might try to add in some more “whole grains” but I wanted to stick with the classic for the first try.

After the first rise, a shaping, a second rise, the buns were treated to a quick egg wash and then sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds. After a quick 15 mins in the oven at 400, I had successfully made my own hamburger buns.

If I toot my own horn (sue me-I was a HS band nerd), these buns were just perfect. They were dense but soft with a hint of sweetness and were good lookin’ too from the browned egg wash and sesame seeds. Even though it was a chilly, cloudy day, Dave and I tried to make the most of it. Went rode our bikes along the lakefront to an early showing of Angels and Demons, then spent the afternoon with a Yankees game and our Bar/Bri Torts outline. Then we whipped up some simple burgers made from grass-fed ground beef and diced onions on my grill pan to enjoy on the buns.

Simple American days like today make me feel happy to live in a country where we can freely enjoy such pleasures. Thank you to all those who have and who currently serve.

White Bread: for Hamburger Buns
from BBA (really a wonderful 1st bread baking book)

Recipe makes 2 1-pound loaves, 18 dinner rolls or 12 burger buns [I made 6 buns and 1 loaf]

4 3/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup powdered milk
3 1/4 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 egg, slightly beaten, at room temp
3 1/4 tablespoons butter, margarine, or shortening, melted or room temp
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon to 1 3/4 cups water, room temp
1 egg whisked w/ 1 teaspoon water until frothy for egg wash
Sesame or poppy seeds for garnish

Mix together the flour, salt, powdered milk, sugar, and yeast in a bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Pour in the egg, butter and 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon of water and mix on low speed w/ paddle attachment until all the flour is absorbed and the dough forms a ball. If the dough seems very stiff and dry, trickle in more water after until the dough is soft and supple.

Mix the dough on medium speed with the dough hook for 6 to 8 mins. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick slightly to the bottom. [I had to take it out and knead it by hand with a 4-5 teaspoons of flour to get it to stop being sticky.] Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

Ferment at room temp for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it in half for loaves, into 18 2 oz pieces for dinner rolls or 12 3 oz. pieces for burger buns. [or any combo you want to make]. Shape the pieces into boules* for loaves or tight rounds** for rolls or buns. Mist lightly with oil and cover with a towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 20 mins.

For loaves, shape as described in this recipe. Lightly oil a 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch loaf pan and place the loaf in the pans. For rolls and buns, line a sheet pan with parchment. For buns, gently press down on the rolls to form the desired shape.

Mist the tops of the dough with spray oil and loosely cover. Proof at room temp for 60 to 90 mins.

Preheat oven to 350 for loaves or 400 for buns. Brush the rolls and loaf with egg wash and garnish with seeds. Bake the buns for 15 mins or until they are golden brown. Bake the loaves for 35 to 45 mins, rotating 180 degrees midway through for even baking. [I did the buns first, then lowered the temp down to 350 to finish off the loaf.]

When finished baking, remove immediately from the pans and cool on a wire rack.

*Boules: Gather the dough to form a rough ball.  To create surface tension, stretch the outside of the dough into an oblong, being careful not to squeeze out the gas trapped in the dough any more than necessary.  Repeat the stretching motion, bringing the opposite ends together to make a ball.  Tighten the surface tension by pinching to seal the bottom of the dough where the creases converge.  [The pictures in the book make this very helpful.  I'm serious, this is a great book to invest in].

**Rounds: Form your hand into a cup, place the dough inside.  Firmly press the dough into the counter as if trying to push it through the counter, simultaneously rotating your hand in a circular motion, driving the dough with the outer edge of your hand.  The dough should pop up into your palm and from a tight round ball.

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8 responses to “Memorial Day Baking

  1. They were yummm!

  2. I also made the Anadama Bread in this book this weekend and concur that it is a great 1st breadmaking book.

    Your hamburger buns look awesome! Great job.

  3. They’re beautiful!! We had these with our burgers yesterday, too and ooh, I just love ‘em. Your Saturday sounded perfect!

    From one HS band nerd to another ;) – well done!

  4. Those buns do look perfect! Congrats on your first successful experiement with your bread book :)

  5. Wow, so golden and delicious! Kudos on making your own buns!

  6. YOur hamburger buns look wonderful!!

  7. How beautiful! I love this book so much, I definitely need to make it a point to pick it up more often. Did you know there is a blog group that has made it their mission to work there way through the entire book, every single recipe? http://pinchmysalt.com/the-bba-challenge/ I wanted to join in the fun but was too late…

  8. You’re going to have to teach me how to make bread when I get back in town because I’m completely incapable. They call me the “yeast killer.”

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