Why is it that we are expected to paint our own houses, build our own decks, do our own taxes and yet people are floored when I actually make something like burger buns from scratch? They don’t call for blueprints and hardware and lumber from Home Depot – only flour, water, eggs and yeast. Easy. I can’t build a deck, but I can make a bun.
And isn’t that the true meaning of convenience? Not the availability of Wonder Bread buns at 7-11 24 hours a day, but the ability to make your own, from scratch, in about the same amount of time it takes to get in the car and drive to the store. (Minus rising time, of course, but you’re not actually doing anything at that point anyway, so it really shouldn’t count.)
If you have burgers on the agenda over the next couple months, and I know you do, try mixing up a batch of these instead of those crusty generic Kaiser buns that make far too much of a mess anyway. Making them is fun. It’s not difficult. And your burgers will be the best dressed ones at the party. (Even when it’s not a party.)
In other news: the bean book finally squeezed through its final round of edits! Sue and I have spent approximately a thousand hours over the past 48 on speaker phone marking up the manuscript with red pen and sticky notes. It’s sealed up in a box and leaning on the front door, even if the (presumably overworked) FedEx guy never showed to pick it up today. Maybe tomorrow.
Brioche Burger or Slider Buns
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. active dry yeast
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter
additional egg, for brushing, and/or sesame seeds (optional)
In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together the water, milk, sugar and yeast. Let it stand for about 5 minutes, until it’s foamy. (If it doesn’t foam, the yeast is kaput – get some fresh yeast and try again!) Crack the egg into it and beat it a little with a fork to break it up.
Meanwhile stir together the flour and salt; add the butter and blend it in with a pastry blender, whisk or your fingers, rubbing it until it’s crumbly, as if you were making pastry. Add the yeast mixture and stir until you have a soft dough; beat it with a dough hook in your stand mixer or knead it on a lightly floured countertop until it’s nice and smooth; 5-10 minutes. It will be stickier than regular dough; resist the urge to add too much flour. Leave it tacky.
Place the ball of dough back into the bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let it sit for an hour or so, until doubled.
Divide the dough into 8-10 pieces (or 20 if you want wee slider buns), shape them into balls, place them a couple inches apart on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick spray or lined with parchment or a silicone mat, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for another hour.
Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Brush the buns with a little beaten egg if you like, and sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Bake for 10-15 minutes (a bit longer if you made larger buns) until golden.