These delicious, preservative-free buns can be made in just 3 1/2 to 4 hours with no more than about 45 minutes of actual work -- less than 30 minutes if using a food processor (see TIP, below). The recipe can be doubled and the extra baked buns frozen to have on hand for a speedy summer supper.
The added crunch of sesame seeds sprinkled on top of the buns is nice; a mixture of seeds and grains kneaded into the dough provides still more fiber and flavor.
Servings: 8 hamburger buns
- 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour, plus more as necessary
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast, such as rapid-rise or bread machine yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 1/3 cups room-temperature water
- 1 teaspoon mild honey, such as clover
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup toasted mixed seeds, such as cracked flax, sesame, poppy, sunflower and pumpkin, or 1 tablespoon sesame seeds for the topping (optional)
- Milk or water, for brushing the tops of the buns (optional)
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, whole-wheat flour and yeast, then the salt. Add the water, honey and oil. Using a mixer with a dough hook on medium speed, or by hand, knead the dough for 7 minutes (10 minutes by hand) until smooth and springy. The dough should be soft and just sticky enough to cling slightly to your fingers. If it is still very sticky, knead in a little flour. If it is too stiff, spray it with a little water and knead it. Allow the dough to rest, covered, for 20 minutes and then knead in the seeds, if desired.
Set the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and lightly spray or oil the top of the dough. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot. Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled. (The indentation from a finger stuck into the center of the dough should remain.)
If you plan to bake the hamburger buns the next day, press down the dough and place it in a large, oiled resealable plastic food storage bag, leaving a tiny bit unzipped for the forming gas to escape, and refrigerate it. Take it out of the refrigerator about 1 hour before shaping.
When ready to shape the dough, set it on a very lightly floured work surface and form it into a log. With a sharp knife, divide it into 8 equal pieces. (If you prefer very large buns, you can divide the dough into 6 equal pieces.) Shape each piece into a ball by cupping your hand over the dough and rotating it. It works best if you use only as much flour as you need to keep the dough from sticking. A little resistance helps to form a round ball. Keep the balls of dough covered with damp paper towels to prevent drying; allow them to rest for 5 minutes.
Transfer the dough balls to a parchment-lined baking sheet or inverted sheet pan, leaving enough space between them to allow for a 4-inch bun. Flatten the balls to a height of about 1 inch. (If the dough is very elastic, you can flatten them again after 15 minutes of rising.) If using the sesame seeds, brush the dough lightly with milk or water and sprinkle with the seeds. Cover the balls with a large inverted plastic box or with plastic wrap lightly coated with baking spray, and allow them to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until almost doubled; when the dough is pressed gently with a finger, the depression should very slowly fill in.
While the dough is rising, set the oven rack toward the bottom of the oven and place a baking stone or baking sheet on it. Set a cast-iron skillet or heavy baking pan on the floor of the oven or on the lowest shelf. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees for 45 minutes or longer.
Mist the dough with water, quickly but gently set the baking sheet on the hot stone or hot baking sheet, and toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath. Immediately shut the door and bake 15 minutes. Rotate the pan front to back and bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until the buns are golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center will read 200 to 210 degrees.) Transfer the buns to wire racks until they are completely cool or barely warm.
TIP - Food Processor Method:
Refer to the instruction booklet for your model to determine the maximum amount of flour allowable. Chill the water. Place the whisked flour mixture in the work bowl fitted with the steel blade. With the motor on, add the cold water and oil. If the mixture doesn't come together after 10 seconds, scrape down the sides and scrape the dry part into the moist part.
After the mixture comes together, continue processing for 1 1/2 minutes until a smooth, elastic dough is formed. If it does not clean the bowl, pulse in a little extra flour. Transfer the dough to a counter and knead it for 10 seconds to equalize the temperature. If adding the optional seeds, allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes and proceed as above.
Adapted from baking expert Rose Levy Beranbaum.
Tested by Leslie A. Garcia.
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