Have you looked at the ingredient lists on hamburger buns inthe grocery store lately? Even "wheat" buns are not entirely whole grain and include things like calcium proprionate and monocalcium phosphate - anyone have any idea what these are? The options at stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are a little better, but finding an organic bun with a reasonable ingredient list is a bit like playing the lotto. So after a lot of frustration and avoiding hamburgers because I was unhappy with the bun options, I decided to try making my own! I had come across a recipe on the King Arthur Flour website for 100% Whole Wheat Hotdog Buns, and figured the recipe should be able to be adapted for bread machine use and hamburgers. I took advantage of the live chat feature on that website to get some advice from KAF's bakers, and gave them a try. It took 2 tries to get it right, but wow, are these buns ever tasty! I was so impressed...they are soft and flavorful but held up well to some thick hamburgers and turkey burgers.
I can already hear you saying that it seems crazy to make something like hamburger buns, but it is so worth it. Elapsed time for this recipe is about 4 hours, but active time in all that is closer to 30 minutes. Plus, the batch makes 12-16 and they freeze well, so for a family of 4 you could make this once and have them last for 3-4 meals - 10 minutes or less of effort to have homemade, high quality buns is totally reasonable! This recipe would also be great for a dinner roll or hot dog bun - see the notes at the bottom of the recipe for a little more info. I hope you'll give these a try!
100% Whole Wheat Hamburger* Buns
adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups water
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup dry milk
3 tablespoons potato flour or 1/3 cup dried potato flakes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
Add all of the ingredients to the pan of your bread machine** and set for basic dough cycle.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased or floured work surface. Pat into a symetrical shape, adding a sprinkle of flour if dough is really sticky (don't overdo it on the flour here as the stickiness will help in shaping the buns). Using a pastry scraper or large sharp knife, cut dough into 12 even pieces for large buns, or 16 for smaller, buns. Shape each hamburger bun by patting the piece of dough into a flat disk about 3/4 inches thick and pinching the edges into the center to form a round shape (for great pictures of what I mean here, check out Itty Bitty Bistro).
Here you have 2 options, depending on how big you want your buns. For 12 thick buns, them into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish after shaping. For 16 smaller (and lighter) buns, place them on a parchment or silpat lined half sheet pan. I have found the smaller buns are plenty big for a 1/4 pound burger.
Cover the shaped buns with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap and let rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 375°F with enough time to heat up before the end of the rising time (I set a timer for 1 hour, turned on my oven, and then set the timer for another 30 minutes). Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a rack before breaking apart into separate buns.
Serve that day or store in a zip top bag in the freezer until needed, defrosting for a couple of hours on the counter top or in the microwave. They are also great as a general purpose sandwich roll, or warmed in the microwave with a little butter (or your favorite topping) as a snack.
Makes 12-16 burger buns
* This recipe would also be great for dinner rolls (just make them a little smaller - probably 20 would be a good amount - and use the 9 x 13 dish so they don't spread out too much), or hot dog buns (see Itty Bitty Bistro for how to roll hot dog buns, too!)
** For non-bread machine instructions, see the original instructions on the King Arthur website