A good hamburger bun must not only taste good but it must be able to hold whatever juicy fillings you decide to wedge in between them without turning soggy. So this is the recipe I use for my Slow Cooked Pork Sandwiches because I get to taste good bread with good meats and sauces without the worry of bread going spongy wet. Of course, they make good hotdog buns too. This is a versatile recipe that can be tweaked to create a number of tasty savoury or sweet buns.   Take a sneak peek at the bottom of this post for more ideas.

Hamburger Buns, Savoury Buns

Prep: ~20 minutes 
Cook: ~ 12 – 15 minutes
Inactive: First rising: Approximately 1 hour resting time or until dough almost doubles in volume.
Second rising: Approximately 45 minutes resting time or until dough almost doubles in volume.
Third rising: Approximately 45 -60  minutes resting time or until buns almost doubles in volume.
Level: Intermediate.
Makes: Makes 8 buns about 4″ (10 cm) across or 10 buns about 3″ (7.5 cm) across.
Oven Temperature: 375F (190C)  oven rack middle shelf
Can recipe be doubled? Yes
Make ahead? Dough can be covered loosely with plastic wrap and placed in a plastic box that is twice the volume of the dough. Cover the plastic box with its lid and refrigerate. Can be kept a day ahead in the refrigerator. The dough will rise but at a slower rate in the refrigerator. Check on dough and punch dough down. Depending on the size and depth of your plastic box, the plastic lid might get popped off.  Just punch dough down and replace lid. 

Ingredients

1 cup = 250ml =8.45 US fl oz

3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose/plain or bread flour plus 1/4 cup extra if required
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 and 3/4 teaspoons fast-acting or instant dried yeast*
3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup water warmed plus 1/4 cup extra if required
1/2 cup milk warmed
3 Tablespoons salted butter melted
1 egg lightly beaten
Extra oil or butter to oil/butter your hands and the bowl used to rise dough
For brushing on bread (optional)
1 egg lightly beaten
Sesame seeds
* I use the brand, SAF Instant

Method

Using a mixer
1. Combine all ingredients (except the extra oil/butter) into mixer bowl and attach dough hook to the beater shaft.
2. Start mixer at low speed to prevent the flour from flying out of bowl and all over the kitchen counter. Work up to medium speed gradually.
3. If the mixture does not seem to be coming together to form a dough, with the machine running, add 1 Tablespoon of water and let the machine go at it for 1 minute. Work in more water the same way if required. Err on the side of a more moist dough. If there is dough stuck to the sides of the bowl. Scrape down.
4. If the dough is too wet, add 1 Tablespoon of flour and let the machine work it in for 1 minute. Add more flour the same way if required. Again, err on the side of a more moist dough.
5. Most of the time it takes 7 to 10 minutes of machine kneading (on a my KitchenAid) before I am happy to shape the dough into a ball. At this point, the sides of my bowl would be cleaned of dough and the dough would have gathered up on the dough hook. It would look pliable and smooth.
6. You are working towards being able to gather up the dough to form a relatively smooth looking ball. The dough might and should feel slightly sticky to touch. It might take you more or less kneading time before your dough reaches this stage.
7. Pick the dough up and form into a round ball. Tuck loose ends under the dough. Before returning dough to mixer bowl, oil/butter the bowl. Return dough to mixer bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or tea towel and let it rise in a warm place until almost double in size.
8. Depending on how warm it is, it could take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours.

Working dough by hand
1. Place dry ingredients on a flat working surface or in a very large bowl. Create a well in the centre of dry ingredients.
2. Mix all the wet ingredients (except the extra oil/butter) in a bowl. Pour this into the well and work it in slowly into the dry ingredients.
3. To start kneading, you have to work with pushing the dough out with the palm of your hand and pulling it back with your fingers.
4. At any point, if the dough is too dry or wet to work, you can add 1 Tablespoon of water or flour and work it in completely before adding more water or flour. Err on the side of a moist and not a dry dough. Your kneading surface should be clean with no dough stuck on it.
5. You will know you are doing well when you find yourself working with a smooth elastic ball. Knead another 5 minutes.  Pick the dough up, oil/butter your hands if the dough is a little sticky (it should be a little sticky) and form into a round ball, tuck loose ends under the dough. Oil/butter your bowl which should be large enough to allow the dough to almost double in size. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or tea towel and let it go through its first rise in a warm place until almost double in size.
6. Depending on how warm it is, it could take anywhere between 1 to 2 hours.

AFTER the first rise – time to punch down and prepare baking trays.
1. After the first rise, punch dough down, shape back into a ball, cover bowl and let it rise a second time. It should take half the time to rise compared to before.
2. Prepare 2 baking trays with either silicon pads, baking paper or simply oil/butter bottom of trays.

AFTER the second rise – time to shape the dough
3 steps you need to carry out after the second rise:
I.  Divide the dough into 8 balls.
II.  Shape balls into round patties.
III.  Cover and let it go through the final rise.

1. Remove dough, gently divide dough into 8 equal portions. I do this with a pair of scissors as I do not want to overwork the dough.
2. Shape each dough into a ball. Do this by cupping your palms around the circumference of the dough ball. The sides of your palms will be resting on the work surface. It will appear like you are cocooning the dough ball.
3. Start moving the dough ball clockwise with the help of the sides of your palms which should not leave the surface of the work surface as you are moving your palm  in circular motions. This method will get the dough ball smooth and round as any straggly surface on the dough ball gradually gets pulled and tucked under the dough.
4. Keep the dough balls spaced about 4″ to 5″ (10cm to 12cm) apart on prepared baking tray. Keep under a tea towel or plastic wrap to prevent drying out and let them rest for 10 -15 minutes. This resting makes it easier to flatten them out into patty shapes. Make a mental note of the first dough ball you placed on the tray.
5. Go back to the first ball of dough you placed on baking tray and without lifting the dough, press it out with your fingers into 4″ (10cm) rounds. Do the same for the remaining dough balls. There should be at least a  1″ (1.25cm) space around each round of dough.  Cover with a tea towel and let them go through the final rise. It should almost double in size. It could take anywhere between 45 to 60 minutes.
6. Half way through rising, turn on the oven to 375F(190C), adjust oven rack to bottom half of oven.

Getting them oven ready
1. When they have almost doubled in size and are ready to go into oven, brush each bun gently with beaten egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. For alternative toppings, take a look at my ‘Tips’ section below.

2. Bake one baking tray at a time for 10 to 15 minutes until tops of buns are golden brown. When you tap the base of the bun, it should sound hollow. Remove to cool on a wire rack.

Tips

1. Once you are comfortable with producing these buns, you can top buns with various toppings. 
For instance, brush the top of each bun with beaten egg and sprinkle:

Remember to add the mayonnaise as it helps  to hold the toppings and adds a sharp creaminess.

1. grated cheese, pipe a spiral of mayonnaise over it (I spoon mayonnaise in a plastic bag, twist top end closed and snip off the bottom of one corner) and dust with dried herb of your choice
2. grated cheese, pipe a spiral of mayonnaise over it and let 1 tablespoon of sugar fall all over it. Cheese with sugar? Yes! Taste wonderful. If you can have cheesecake, this is much nicer!
3. grated cheese, pipe a spiral of mayonnaise over it and stud with bacon that has been lightly cooked. Shredded ham is good too and you do not need to fry that.
4. grated cheese, pipe a spiral of mayonnaise over it and top with onions that have been cooked until transparent and lightly browned (onions will brown further in the oven), add pepper and salt.

Think of them as little pizza buns minus the tomato sauce base.

Clockwise front to back: Cheese & mayo with sugar sprinkled on; Cheese & mayo with browned onions; Cheese & mayo with oregano; Cheese & mayo with Bacon.
My favourite? It is a tough choice between the bacon and the cheese with sugar sprinkled on it.

(2) When you are even more confident with working with the recipe, you can tweak it by adding other ingredients.
1. For instance, grated cheese, diced ham, dried herb, fresh herbs or sweeten up the dough with 1/4 cup of sugar. If using extra sugar, cheese or any other dried ingredients, add it at the same time as other dough ingredients so it can be worked in together. If you are adding ingredients that needs to be refrigerated, like ham, I would incorporate those ingredients into the dough after the second rise by folding it gently into the individual dough balls.

2. If I have leftover evaporated milk (as when I make my all time favourite mango dessert, Mango Pudding), I use that to replace the fresh milk in this recipe and add that 1/4 cup of sugar to the recipe too.  Top that with the cheese, mayonnaise and sprinkled sugar combination and it is a wonderful thing to serve for tea or breakfast.

(3) Take this to a potluck.
1. Shape dough into 1 and 1/2″ (4cm) balls. Line them up 1/2″ (1.25cm) apart in a lined/buttered 2″(5cm) deep baking tray. Once it rises to almost double its size, brush with egg, pipe mayonnaise and top with whatever other toppings you like. Bake 15 – 20 minutes at 375F (190C). Please remember the mayonnaise! How much of an ingredient to add? No hard and fast rules. I would go with 1/2 cup of cheese or ham, 1 tablespoon of dried herbs or 1/4 cup of fresh herbs, depending on the type of herb you are using. Get creative. It is much easier to mess up a recipe for cake than bread.

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