Sunday, May 20, 2012

Recipe: Homemade Hot Dog / Hamburger Buns

The noblest of all dogs is the hot-dog; it feeds the hand that bites it. – Lawrence J. Peter

Eight warm, delicious, perfectly-sized hot dog buns.
Have you ever made your own hot dog or hamburger buns? I hadn’t but I had wanted to for a long time. Since this is the long weekend, I thought now would be the perfect time.

Monday is a holiday in Canada, Victoria Day. If you’re planning on having a barbecue on the holiday, and you’re reading this on Sunday, why not try them? They’re so much better than what you purchase there’s really no comparison.

These buns are a bit of work, or to be clearer, take some time. There’s three raises. First overnight (so you’re sleeping), second through the day (so you’re outside enjoying yourself), and then a quick one just before popping into the oven.

So you can see, they may take time, but they’re really not a whole lot of labour.

The first overnight raise is what is called a pre-ferment or starter. This not only adds more flavour and better structure to the rolls, but also helps them stay fresh longer. It’s an old way of beginning bread and is common in artisanal breads to this day.

This was my starter. 1 tsp yeast, 1 cup each milk and white flour.
Starters you may have heard of are sourdough, biga and poolish.

All ingredients in. Very "wet" and ready to rise.
Sourdough is a pre-ferment that captures wild yeasts and can be kept alive for a very long time. One bakery in San Francisco has kept their starter alive for over 150 years! I have to admit, the process of making my own starter from airborne yeast has a certain cachet for me...

Biga is an Italian starter, using regular yeast, that has a fairly thick consistency. I have used biga starters for many Italian breads, including ciabatta and pugliese.

Poolish is a thinner version of biga, often a 1:1 ratio of flour and water. So I guess you could call my starter a poolish. But without the explanation most wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. I didn't until I looked it up. I always called it a "biga starter." Poolish is not a very common word…

These rolls came out really very nicely. They were soft and had a delicious home-baked aroma from the starter. During baking they increased in size by at least 400% from when they were initially shaped.

If you have the time, you should try this. It’s dangerous though. Once tasted, your family won’t settle for anything less!

Hot Dog / Hamburger Buns
Keeping the dough moist makes for tender buns.
Overnight starter:
Time: 8 hours
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
1 tsp yeast
Let rise 8 hours (overnight)

Raise: 6 hours
1 tsp yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup melted margarine
2-1/2 to 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 egg

Mix the milk, flour and yeast together in a bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot and let rise overnight.

The next day, proof the next tsp of yeast in the warm water and sugar. The water must be between 110° and 115°F. Any warmer will kill the yeast.

Combine the proofed yeast and water with the remaining ingredients, including all of the starter dough. Begin by using 2-1/2 cup of the flour. Only add more if absolutely necessary. The dough will be quite damp feeling, very soft and somewhat sticky.

Place in a bowl and let rise for 6 more hours.

Punch the dough down. Put the dough on a lightly floured board and divide into 8 equal pieces.

For Hamburger Buns: Shape into balls, and place on a greased baking sheet. Flatten out with your fingers so they don’t bake as round balls. Cover, let rise for 45 minutes.

These are the 8 buns before their final rise. They need to double in size.
For Hot Dog Buns: Shape each piece into a 6x4 inch rectangle. Starting with the longer side, roll up tightly, and place seam-side down in a 9x13 pan (in 2 rows of four). Let rise 45 minutes. 

The buns literally filled the pan during baking, getting twice as big as you see here.
Bake at 400°F (200°C) for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and rub the tops with margarine while still warm.


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