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Golden Burger Buns

Jul 12, 2008 | From the kitchen of Rose

The Perfect Two by Fours

When I wrote The Bread Bible, I didn’t include burger buns thinking no one would go to the effort of making them. Well I was wrong—I do! I’ve tried many versions, including the Sweet Heart of Wheat, Basic Hearth Bread, and even Ten Grain. They were all wonderful but what I really wanted was a softer bread so I switched to sweet potato dough. My first trials were with added old starter and though good, they kept the dough from being as soft as I had hoped for.

Here, just in time for the rest of the grilling season (which for me is all year!) are is my top favorite bun. The sweet potato adds a beautiful golden color, moistness and softness. I always toast them lightly—if the grill is on I do it on the grill but watching carefully as they toast within seconds.

These are great for lots more than burgers for example crab cakes, or even fried eggs, chicken, tuna, or egg salad.

When I use them for hamburgers I get 4 inch half pound ground aged beef patties from my favorite butcher Pino, on Sullivan Street. It was his son Sal's idea and the flavor and juiciness of the beef makes these the best hamburgers I've ever had. My preference is to sprinkle them with salt before grilling and then pepper afterwards and to serve them with a thick slice of Vidalia onion and ketchup but not too much as I don't want to mask the flavor of the beef.

TIME SCHEDULE
Dough Starter (Sponge): Minimum 1 hour, Maximum 4 hours (or overnight refrigerated)
Minimum Rising Time: About 3 1/2 hours
Oven Temperature: 400°F.
Baking Time: 15 to 20 minutes

Sweet Potato Dough for 4 Hamburger Buns
Makes: almost 1 pound / 454 to 460 grams, 4 inches by 2 inches high

Flour Mixture

Dough Starter (Sponge)

INGREDIENTS

MEASUREMENTS

WEIGHT

 

volume

ounces

grams

1 small yam or sweet
potato, washed but
not pared

 

.

 

4 ounces

 

113 grams

unbleached all purpose
flour

1/2 cup plus
1 tablespoon

3 ounces

81 grams

water, room temperature
(70 to 90°F.)

1/3 cup plus
4 teaspoons

3.5 ounces

100 grams

honey

1 1/2 teaspoons

.

10 grams

instant yeast

1/4 teaspoon

.

0.8 grams

Early in the morning or the night before bake the potato and start the sponge

1) Bake the potato: In a 375°F. oven bake the potato 50 minutes or until tender. Cool, peel, and put it through a ricer or strainer or mash it. Measure or weigh out 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces)

2) Make the dough starter (sponge) In a large bowl (mixer bowl if using a stand mixer), place the flour, water, honey, and yeast. Whisk until very smooth to incorporate air, about 2 minutes. The dough will be the consistency of a thick batter. Scrape down the sides.

Flour Mixture

INGREDIENTS

MEASUREMENTS

WEIGHT

 

volume

ounces

grams

unbleached all purpose
flour

 

1 cup

 

5 ounces

 

144 grams

dry milk, preferably nonfat

1 1/2 tablespoons

.

.

instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon

.

1.6 grams

unsalted butter,
softened

1 tablespoon

0.5 ounce

14 grams

riced or mashed yam
(from above)

1/4 cup +
2 tablespoons

3.5 ounces

100 grams

salt

3/4 teaspoon

.

4.5 grams

Optional: Sesame Seeds

2 teaspoons

.

.

(For bread machine see note at end)

3) Combine the ingredients for the flour mixture In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour (reserve the 2 tablespoons if mixing by hand), dry milk, and yeast. Sprinkle this on top of the sponge and cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Allow it to ferment for 1 hour or up to 4 hours at room temperature. During this time the sponge will bubble through the flour blanket in places. This is fine.

4) Mix the dough Add the butter and mashed potato. With the dough hook mix on low speed (#2 Kitchen Aid) for 1 minute or until the flour is moistened to form a rough dough. Scrape down any bits of dough. Cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 20 minutes. Sprinkle on the salt. Knead the dough on medium speed (#4 Kitchen Aid) for 7 to 10 minutes. It will be smooth and shiny and slightly sticky to the touch. With an oiled spatula, scrape down any dough clinging to the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, scrape it onto a lightly floured counter and knead in a little more flour. If it is too stiff, spray it with a little cold water and knead it in. (It should weigh about 1 pound/ 454 to 460 grams.)

5) Let the dough rise Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, scrape the dough into a 2 quart dough rising container or bowl, greased lightly with cooking spray or oil. Push down the dough and lightly spray or oil the top. Cover the container with a lid, or plastic wrap. With a piece of tape mark on the side of the container approximately where double the height would be. Allow the dough to rise (ideally at 75 to 80°F.), 1 1/2 to 2 hours until doubled.

Using an oiled spatula or dough scraper, remove the dough to a floured counter and gently press it down to form a rectangle. It will be full of air and resilient. Try to maintain as much of the air bubbles as possible. Pull out and fold the dough over from all 4 sides into a tight package or give it 2 business letter turns and set it back in the container. Again oil the surface, cover, mark where double the height will now be and allow it to rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until it reaches the mark. (It will fill it fuller than before because it is puffier with air). [Or refrigerate overnight, pushing down once or twice during the first 2 hours and take out about 1 hour. before shaping.]

6) Shape the dough and let it rise Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and divide it into 4 equal pieces about 4 ounces / 112 to 116 grams each. Shape into balls and set several inches apart on parchment. (If you have a large peel you will be able to transfer them on the parchment by slipping it between the counter and the parchment. Alternatively, line a baking sheet with the parchment and baking the buns on the parchment-lined sheet.

Allow the buns to rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Flatten to 4 inches by 3/4 inch high. Spritz with water and sprinkle with sesame seeds, pressing them in with your fingers. Cover with a large plastic box or cover it lightly with plastic wrap that has been coated with non-stick cooking spray and allow it to rise until puffy--30 minutes to 1 hours (4 to 4 1/4 inches by 1 1/4 inches and when pressed gently with your finger tip the depression slowly fills in).

7) Preheat the oven

1 hour before baking preheat the oven to 400°F. Have the oven shelf at the lowest level and place an oven stone or baking sheet on it and a cast iron pan or sheet pan on the floor of the oven before preheating.

8) Bake the bread (turn half way through) Spritz the buns with water and quickly but gently set the pan on the hot baking stone or hot baking sheet. Toss 1/2 cup of ice cubes into the pan beneath. Immediately shut the door and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until medium golden brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. (An instant read thermometer inserted into the center will read 190°-206°F/88°-96°C.) Half way through baking, rotate the pans half way around (after 10 minutes) for even baking.



9) Cool the bread
Remove the buns from the oven and set them on a wire rack. to cool top-side-up.

Notes:
If not using the dry milk you can replace the water with 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of milk, preferable nonfat, scalded (brought to the boiling point) and cooled to lukewarm.

If you’d prefer to mix the dough in a bread machine, mix the sponge starter in a bowl and scrape it into the bread machine container. Sprinkle the flour mixture on top. Mix for 3 minutes, allow to rest for 20 minutes. Add the salt and mix for another 3 minutes. Then knead for 7 minutes.

The Rose Ratio
flour: 100% (Includes starch contained in the potato)
water: 64.1% (Includes water contained in the butter, honey and yam)
yeast: 0.94%
salt: 1.9%
butterfat: 4.4%
NOTE I like to use Gold Medal Better for Bread Flour in the starter and the unbleached all-purpose in the dough--it's a good balance for softeness and lightness. Also, I like to keep the dough very sticky--too sticky to touch until after the first rise when I scrape it from the container onto a floured counter. I continue to add a minimum flour only to the outside to keep it from sticking to the counter and my hands. This results in the lightest softest texture.

Comments

Hi Margie,
We comment that the pan that holds the ice cubes does not need to be a cast iron pan or large sheet pan. The reason for using these is a safety one in that you can toss in your ice cubes without worrying about them jumping out of the pan.
It sounds like your oven is similar to mine, which the electric coils are about an inch or so above the oven's floor. I can slip a quarter sheet pan under the coils and between their supporting "feet".
If you have no room to do what I do, can you place small, short pans on both sides of the coils and place your ice cubes in them?
Rose & Woody

REPLY

Margie Berwick
Margie Berwick
06/ 7/2013 09:45 PM

How do I add the pan with the ice cubes if the heating element is on the bottom of my oven! Thank you!

REPLY

Hi Ramiro,
We suggest that it is fine to experiment with more honey. However, the buns will brown more, but otherwise will be fine. You may want to start with an additional 1/2 teaspoon.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

Ramiro Martinez
Ramiro Martinez
06/ 4/2013 11:04 AM

Thank you so much for posting this fab recipe!! If I wanted to add a bit more sweetness, how much more honey can I add to the starter or the flour mixture. I want to try these buns on a pulled pork sandwich.

REPLY

Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from Karen
03/22/2013 10:37 PM

Hi Karen,
We suggest that canned pumpkin is fine but fresh would change the water content.
Rose & Woody

REPLY

Could pumpkin be substituted for the sweet potatoes?

REPLY

Woody Wolston
Woody Wolston in reply to comment from SaBrinas
12/14/2011 02:55 PM

Hi SaBrinas,
We would only suggest adding some shredded carrot as an enhancement. The recipe is balanced for starch content by the yams. You will need to experiment.

REPLY

Hi, Thank you for sharing your gift,your time and knowledge. I was wondering may a use carrots instead of sweet potatoes? I know I will loose the starch and gain some water from the carrot. But is there a balance you can suggest? Thank you for you time. I really enjoy your books! Wonderful just wonderful.

REPLY

Rose Levy Beranbaum
Rose Levy Beranbaum in reply to comment from Jackson
02/24/2011 06:40 PM

jackson, the "composition of foods" is useful as a starting point but the proof is always in the pudding. it is necessary to test the recipes and often to tweak them because of the other elements that are being added and the way in which they inter-react.

REPLY

Hi Jackson,
The potato does add the water to this percentage, but also is adding fiber and other elements. This is explained in "The Bread Bible".
You may want to buy the "Composition of Foods" from the US Dept of Agriculture (available on the web), which is pages of tables of ingredients and foods with their composition detailed. This book was essential for Rose to do her research for writing "The Bread Bible's" recipes and during her testing each recipe.
I bought one and it is very interesting. Enjoy the world of breads as I waited way too long.
Enjoy, Woody

REPLY

Rose,
I love your cake bible and I /need/ to buy the bread bible! :)

If you don't mind sharing, how does one determine how much sweet potatoes or even regular potatoes contribute to a dough's overall hydration?

I was searching for answers, and the best generic food science answer I could find was that sweet potatoes are around 70-75% water by weight on average.

Surely when I add say, 100 grams of potato to some dough it's not like pouring 70 to 75 grams of water into the bowl is it?

Thanks for your time and this wonderful site!

REPLY

grilling might even caramelize the sugars slightly which would be extra delicious!

REPLY

Thanks Rose! I made the dough today - I actually made a triple batch. They look beautiful. I actually grilled the sweet potatoes and they turned out perfect.

I always grind my own meat for hamburgers - ever since I was pregnant and worried about E. coli - and I keep patties in the freezer. I like to have buns in the freezer too. Before this recipe I always made them from the regular white sandwich bread recipe - these are so much prettier!

REPLY

no, it reads to use 3.5 ounces of the mashed potato. you start with 4 ounces and then use 3.5 ounces. you're right--it says to measure out 3.5 ounces but that's a typo!

REPLY

I'm a little confused about the sweet potato - it's listed in the starter ingredients as 4 oz. and then after you bake/mash it, it says to measure out 4.5 oz. and then you don't use it until you add the butter and mix the dough when you add 3.5 oz.

So really you only need 3.5 oz mashed? Or am I missing something?

REPLY

I cannot wait to make these. I got some sweet potatoes in my CSA box.After work Im getting started and if succesful will blog about it and link back to you.Great site. I have the Cake Bible and love making the Hallelujah Brioche.

REPLY

what an original and delightful way to announce your marriage sal! bravo and i'll be seeing you in 2 hours to pick up more burgers and the fabulous dry aged steak for my dad's 94th birthday--it's his favorite. oh and of course the long island duck and the short ribs and the french ham.....what a feasting week this will be!

REPLY

pino's son sal
pino's son sal
07/16/2008 07:21 PM

Thank you so much for the compliments on the dry aged beef burgers.I am happy to share them with all who enter my dad's shop.Now I am going to have my wife make the bunnzz.

REPLY

Those hamburger buns look amazingly delicious!

REPLY

it will be added to the chart asap but meantime, it is 1/4 teaspoon/0.8 grams

REPLY

hi Rose, how much yeast is used for the starter portion?

thanks ~

REPLY

Thank U for the recipe, Rose! I am happy with the way I have progressed with my breads. Learnt a lot from here! I plan to substitute the dry milk with soy milk powder and butter with margarine or vanaspati!

REPLY

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