Recipe of the Week: Better-Burger-Buns

If you like Monopoly, you'll love this down-on-the-farm property trading game. At Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

If you like Monopoly, you’ll love this down-on-the-farm property trading game. At Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

Every year, we pack up kids and grandkids and head to a local hotel with an indoor swimming pool and a decent restaurant. We spend the week eating, swimming, reading and playing board games. It’s a welcome break from the will-winter-end-downeast-blues, that trying time of the year when the holidays seem distant, and it’s just a little too soon to start sugaring.

If I stayed home I would certainly break down and start some seeds, knowing full well that it’s too early by weeks and anything I plant now will be weak and spindly before it hits the garden.

After we returned home, I think I can be forgiven for finding myself heartily sick of restaurant food. There is a too-muchness to it. Too much salt, sugar and uniformity and portions that are far too large to be healthy. It’s nice to be waited on but I’m glad to get back to the kitchen.

White Bread As Inspiration
The children enjoyed take out hamburgers during that winter break. I detest the spongy, white nutrient-stripped stuff that passes for hamburger rolls and I don’t eat commercial beef, so I opted for a salad that night.

I found myself craving a burger after our return home, though, so I dug out my hamburger roll recipe and whipped up a batch. The rolls are nothing like what you might find in a fast food joint. These are shiny and golden and chewier in texture. The best way to describe them is to say they taste like what they are supposed to be; good bread that holds up to a ripe tomato and juicy meat.

I would love to say they’re fast and easy to prepare but alas, they aren’t. These are the epitome of slow food, but they’re so very worth the wait. You’ll use all the usual suspects.

Best Burger Buns
½ cup very warm water
½ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons SAF instant yeast
1.5 tablespoons honey (you can use sugar)
3 eggs
2.5 cups white, whole wheat flour
2.25 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoons salt
2.5 tablespoons unsalted butter

Optional: poppy or sesame seeds or some coarse salt for sprinkling the roll tops. If you want these for Sloppy Joes, you can sprinkle the tops with garlic salt.

Every kitchen should have a Crackpot Egg Bowl! Lightweight, easy to clean, at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

Every kitchen should have a Crackpot Egg Bowl! Lightweight, easy to clean, at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

Mix the milk, water yeast and sugar in a small bowl and let set until the mixture is foamy. While you’re waiting, beat 2 of the eggs in a separate bowl.

In a large bowl, mix the flour and salt and then cut in the butter. You want a crumbly mixture. Now add the beaten eggs and the yeast sponge.

Choose your favorite hardwood spoon at Lehmans.com or Lehman's in Kidron, OH.

Choose your favorite hardwood spoon at Lehmans.com or Lehman’s in Kidron, OH.

Mix this with a wooden spoon until it comes together and the liquid is incorporated.  Knead for ten minutes. I usually use my stand mixer and let the dough hook do the hard work. When the dough is smooth and shiny, set it in a glass bowl, cover with a damp cloth and set it someplace warm to rise. It takes a while. In the winter, two hours will be about right but maybe you keep your house warmer than I do.

Made from recycled steel, this jellyroll pan handles any baking project! At Lehmans.com.

Made from recycled steel, this jellyroll pan handles any baking project! At Lehmans.com.

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten it slightly. Set each on a lightly greased baking sheet and allow them to rise again. This could take another hour and a half.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a metal pan with hot water and set it on the floor of the oven or on the bottom rack. You could also throw a few ice cubes in the hot oven every 5 minutes to create steam but the pan of water is easier.

Now beat the final egg with some cold water and brush this on top of the buns. Sprinkle the buns with your preferred topping and bake for 20 minutes.

These rolls need to be completely cool before you cut them. They can also be shaped for hot dog rolls. I have made fabulous lobster rolls with this recipe. I prefer to toast my buns before filling them. I would give directions for storage but I promise there will be no need to worry about having too many!

Kathy Harrison

About Kathy Harrison

Kathy Harrison is the author of Just in Case, Another Place at the Table, and One Small Boat. She is a national spokesperson for both foster parenting and family preparedness and has appeared on The Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, and National Public Radio. She lives with her family in western Massachusetts.