I’ve been somewhat behind on posting and I have a huge list of other things I’m supposed to be blogging about, but then, I found this recipe today that I have to write about. It’s just so quick and easy and logical that it CANNOT go unwritten-about, even though I had no intention of doing so.
Yesterday my son was begging me to stop and get hamburgers on the way home, which I resisted grumpily. I had gotten hamburgers on the way home a little too recently and was starting to feel like a Bad Parent (not to mention the unhealthy factor of eating them myself… the scale is no longer *creeping* back up but just sitting there contentedly at the top going “What, last year never happened. You lost weight? hah! You thought that was permanent?” And there was also the expense factor because there’s really only one drive-through burger place I’ll consider eating from around here and it’s not cheap. And the fact that last time I went there, he said he wanted something else and then ate half of mine). My solution at the time was to buy something else (also unhealthy) and tell him I’d make burgers myself at home tonight, when I envisioned being somehow rested up enough to do a little cooking on the side.
Enter tonight. I was not rested, I was absolutely exhausted and braindead after a week that seemed longer than it really was and more filled with stressful occurrences than it really was. I had taken the hamburger out of the freezer to thaw and made my promises though, so the road was set. Further, I had decided to make buns.
I can’t remember the last time I bought hamburger buns. They always seem to be stale, they never all get eaten, and they taste like wads of empty, gummy calories. Truth be told, when I make “hamburgers” for myself there is no bun, not because I don’t like bread, but because I am lazy. I actually like bread (good bread) a lot and could eat a lot more of it than is good for me. However, I make bread products less than once a month because I envision hours spend rising and preparing things. If I had a big group of appreciative family members to feed and the time to spend doing this, I might bake bread more often, but when you’re cooking for yourself and an audience who may or may not eat any of what is prepared, there’s a limit. I don’t necessarily feel good if I then consume it all myself either, homemade goodness or not. When I do make bread, I use various quick recipes that result in instant gratification within (at most) a couple of hours, and at best less than an hour, but it’s still a big production. Also my son has entered a picky phase where he usually won’t eat it, or if he does, he won’t eat it on consecutive days. In fact, he usually won’t eat ground beef either, which is about the only meat I cook very often (again, fast and easy, plus I like it).
Tonight, however, since there was a surprisingly strong chance of him actually eating some hamburger, I decided to try making hamburger buns. In the back of my mind I knew that the promise of making hamburgers did not equate in his mind to a lump of meat on a plate. It had to LOOK like a hamburger of the sort we’d gotten from the restaurant. I already knew it would taste better, but what about those buns? I’d never made buns before. The buns had to be easier than making the effort of going to the store, which meant they had to be REALLY easy and REALLY fast. So, of course, I looked online.
Many recipes were eliminated right off the bat because 1) they took too long and it was already almost dinner time anyway or 2) they required ingredients that I was out of. Like milk, sadly. Another reason I was making dinner tonight (and he was pleading for fast food last night) was because most of the instantly edible food, like bananas, grapes, yogurt, milk, regular cheese, and sandwich bread, were out, and all leftovers of previous cookery had also been consumed. Which is not to say the cupboard was bare, by any means, but combined with the current pickyness and my exhaustion there weren’t very many options for quick feeding that he was actually willing to eat, and most of them had been overused that week already. I eventually settled on the following recipe, which made fewer buns (8) than most of them, even though it was still more than I really needed:
I modified the recipe slightly as follows, and it was ready in under an hour. In fact, it was ready in closer to half an hour, which is saying a lot for a yeast bread.
Dump in large bowl:
2 Tablespoons yeast
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon salt
I stirred this around and let sit about 5 minutes while I tried to get some more work done. Then, in the leftover 1 cup measure I lightly beat:
And dumped it in to the bubbling goo in the bowl, followed by
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
The original recipe uses wheat pastry flour and gluten, neither of which I had, so I went for a slightly wheaty mix just to add flavor. Most white flour is kind of bland all by itself. The mixture turned out pretty well.
I stirred this around with my hand to combine, it was very sticky and goopy, then I scraped it all out onto a floured board and kneaded it (with a fair amount of added flour because my hands and the board and the dough was so sticky) until it was manageable. It said 3-5 minutes, it was probably around that but most of the time was spent scraping it off my hands and reflouring, plus the dough is extremely soft so this wasn’t what you would consider hard work. Once it was cohesive I pinched it into 8 approximately equal parts and rolled them into balls. I was going to sprinkle sesame seeds on top, but I forgot. I’ll try it next time.
I put the balls on parchment paper on a cookie sheet as far apart as they would fit, covered them with a cloth napkin, and put it on top of the oven, which I turned on to preheat to 425. The recipe says to put them on a greased pan, which probably would have worked better (they did have a nice crust on the parchment paper and I didn’t have another pan to wash, but not all of them came off the parchment paper easily, grease would have helped. Of course, I also used the cheese plane to remove them instead of the spatula because I’d already got that all hamburgery, so that could have been a factor).
While they were rising and the oven was preheating for the next 10 minutes, I made the hamburger patties and put them in a covered frying pan to cook, and put the rest of the ground beef in a pot to cook separately (since I knew we weren’t going to have the entire package as hamburgers).
I cooked the buns for 10 minutes, pulled them out and put them on a rack to cool as instructed. As soon as the hamburger was close to cooked and I had put the cheese on the patties to melt, I sliced 2 still-warm buns in half, buttered and toasted them on another pan (this step could easily be skipped, but I liked the cut part of my bun to be toasted, plus it seems to give it a little more heft to hold together while gripping the burger, which seems to be a challenge for most kids).
The buns came out with the perfect dimensions, and they tasted great. They were actually ready before the meat was (I make my burgers pretty thick). The whole operation took considerably less than an hour… I didn’t exactly get going on time and we were ready to eat early. In fact, the buns were probably less time-consuming than just cooking the meat, and the “resting” times were short enough that they just allowed me to get other things ready.
Not only were they quick and easy, they also tasted great and exactly like hamburger buns should. My son had his burger with cheese and ketchup. I added pickles to mine as well (yeah, we were out of other appropriate vegetables too, or I would have put some on mine). My memories of horrible substitutions of things that were not buns, like sandwich bread, merely due to the lack of buns available were somehow soothed. These buns are so much the epitome of quick and easy (and tasty) that I can’t imagine ever substituting anything else or even going bunless again because it would be harder and taste worse. Truly a marvel recipe. I don’t know why I thought making hamburger buns would be so complicated.
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture before we consumed our burgers (well, I had two) but I saved the remaining buns. I think they would be good for other things besides hamburgers too, for that matter, which I would never do with store-bought hamburger buns because they just don’t taste very good. I don’t think we’ll have that much trouble using these ones up before they get stale :). Check out the recipe and the rest of her site! You won’t be sorry. Truly, any other bun is too much trouble. Going to the store for inferior buns, which is less than a 5 minute drive, is more trouble than making these buns.