How to Make Perfect Hamburger Buns

Updated on March 5, 2019
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes, one ingredient at a time.

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Is the Thought of "Homemade" a Horror Story for You?

You say you've never baked bread? Don't worry, I will guide you step-by-step. What's that, you tried before and your bread was flat and leaden? If you follow my guide you will be rewarded with hamburger buns of which you can be proud (and they will taste amazing!).

So, let's get started.

Such Simple Ingredients

There are some foods that are amazing in their complexity—the layering of flavors and textures, the unique blends of herbs and spices. I'm thinking of French cassoulet, rich Italian bolognese, perhaps a Latin American mole sauce. All of them are bold and elaborate, employ a lengthy list of ingredients, and require long hours of cooking. Each of them, when made correctly, is outstanding, memorable, heavenly.

And then there is homemade bread... so exquisite in its pure simplicity.

Water, flour, yeast, and salt.

How They Work Together

Flour is the foundation for a good bread, and a key component of that foundation is protein (otherwise known as gluten). Despite what you might think, gluten is not a poisonous substance. It is a nutrient, a basic part of many of our foods. When viewed under a microscope, protein looks like a spider web; it is that “web” that traps carbon dioxide bubbles. The other important part of flour is starch. When heated, starch becomes firm and supports the protein webs.

Water, when mixed with the flour starts a chain reaction. Water reacts with starch molecules and creates gluten bonds (webs) that hold everything together. Water also carries the sugars to the yeast, helping it to bloom and form the gases that make bread dough rise.

Salt adds flavor and it also chemically alters the gluten to make it stronger. Salt also slightly inhibits the work of the yeast; it slows it down so that bread doesn’t rise too quickly. Why is this important? If the dough rises before the gluten strands have become tight and strong, the bread will collapse. (Think of how much sturdier is a balloon than a bubble).

And, yeast. Here’s the really cool part—did you know that yeast is a living thing? Enzymes in the yeast, when mixed with water, break down the starch molecules, converting them to simple sugars. And why? Yeast eats sugar. Sugar goes in, is digested by the yeast microbe, and then carbon dioxide is formed. It’s that gas, trapped in the webs, that makes your dough rise.

The Recipe

Many hamburger bun recipes include an egg; this produces a rich dough that, although flavorful, is a bit more difficult to shape. I prefer to give you an easy-peasy recipe that will produce a yeasty dough that is a snap to shape.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk, warmed gently in the microwave (no more than 110°F)
  • 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast (not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • olive oil for brushing on the shaped ready-to-bake buns

Step 1: Mix and Knead

1. Place warm milk, yeast, and sugar in large mixing bowl. Stir to combine and set aside until it begins to bubble and foam, about 10 minutes.

2 Stir in remaining ingredients except for the olive oil. If using a stand mixer, beat with dough attachment until a cohesive dough is formed. If working by hand, stir with a sturdy spoon until a loose, shaggy dough is formed. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and begin to knead the dough.

3. Work the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Total kneading time will be about 8-10 minutes.

How to Knead Bread Dough

Fold the dough over and push down with the heels of your hands. Give the dough a quarter turn, then fold and push again. Repeat until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Step 2: Proof the Dough

1. When you have finished kneading, place the dough in a large, lightly greased mixing bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so that the entire ball of dough is greased. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, away from drafts.

2. Let the dough sit in this cozy safe place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. One way to test if the dough has risen enough is to lightly and quickly press two fingertips into the dough about 1/2 inch. If the indentation remains, the dough is ready for the next step.

3. Punch down the dough by pushing your fist into the center of the dough. Pull the edges of the dough to the center, and then place the dough on a lightly floured surface. It will be smooth and bubbles will be visible under the surface.

What is Proofing?

Proofing is what happens when you allow the yeast in dough to ferment, thus causing gas bubbles which inflate the dough. Why do we want "inflated" dough? It is the inflation, the formation of bubbles that create a sturdy crust, a tender crumb, chewiness, and flavor. If proofing (rising) does not occur, you will have a flat, and probably very dense and hard loaf of bread—something more akin to hardtack than bread.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Kneaded, not proofedProofed and puffy; ready to be punched down. (Notice the indentations. It's ready!)
Kneaded, not proofed
Kneaded, not proofed
Proofed and puffy; ready to be punched down. (Notice the indentations. It's ready!)
Proofed and puffy; ready to be punched down. (Notice the indentations. It's ready!)
Proofed, punched, and waiting to be shaped. (See the bubbles just under the surface?)
Proofed, punched, and waiting to be shaped. (See the bubbles just under the surface?) | Source

Step 3: Shape and Prepare for the Oven

1. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round ball. Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until noticeably puffy.

2. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Brush the buns with the olive oil.

Step 4: Bake and Test for Doneness

1. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Not sure the rolls have baked long enough? Turn one over and tap the bottom with your index finger. If it sounds "hollow," your bread is done. You can also use an instant-read thermometer. The internal temperature of the bread should be 190 degrees F.

2. Immediately after you take your hamburger buns from the oven, remove them from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool. If they remain on the baking sheet the bottoms will steam and become soggy. Setting the finished buns on an elevated cooling rack allows for air circulation and ensures that the crust will remain "crusty."

3. Enjoy!

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Linda Lum

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      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        5 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Linda

        It's probably more of a 'time issue' now as I've found some really good 'gluten-free flour that works really well in some recipes, and you can get the gluten-free mixes all ready for the baking, but it's maybe something to look at for the future.

        How to adapt some traditional bread recipes for gluten-free flour.

        I already do pancakes this way and they work a treat.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        5 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

        Lawrence, I do understand. There is nothing like the aroma of yeasty dough proofing, the feel of that warm dough under your fingertips, and the fragrance of bread baking in the oven.

        I have not looked into the use of other (non-gluten) ingredients for the making of bread but, if you know or have heard that it is possible, I would gladly undertake the task of developing a recipe for you.

      • lawrence01 profile image

        Lawrence Hebb 

        5 weeks ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

        Linda

        Baking artisan bread used to be a hobby of mine, but I never tried making my own Hamburger Buns

        Sadly my wife a few years had to go 'gluten-free' a few years ago (She's gluten intolerant and extra energy the body has to use to break the gluten down has a significant effect) so this is one area where we stick with the 'store bought' but there are days when I really miss the artisan bread I used to bake.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        Maybe once I can out from under having to work full time, I'll try my hand at homemade bread. I'll need to find something to do with my time, right? (Besides paying more attention to my gardens and getting back to writing!)

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Shauna once you taste homemade you'll never go back.

      • bravewarrior profile image

        Shauna L Bowling 

        2 months ago from Central Florida

        I've never thought about making hamburg buns. However, this recipe would work for all sorts of sandwiches. I love the smell of freshly baked bread!

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Peggy, there's only one problem with homemade bread. We end up eating WAY too much of it because it smells and tastes so good. Thanks for stopping by.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Rachel, isn't the aroma of bread baking one of the most Heavenly fragrances on earth? I know you can do this.

      • Peggy W profile image

        Peggy Woods 

        2 months ago from Houston, Texas

        When we lived in Wisconsin many years ago, I used to make homemade loaves of bread quite often. It warmed the house and filled it with delicious odors. Your hamburger bun recipe sounds good. Thanks for your recipe.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Eric, Mr. billybuc is watching his cholesterol, so I'll give him a hall pass on this. I'm glad you can thoroughly enjoy a good burger. A homemade bun can only make it better.

        You may call me "chef" if that makes you happy. To me, the term is genderless. Thank you, kind sir.

      • Rachel L Alba profile image

        Rachel L Alba 

        2 months ago from Every Day Cooking and Baking

        Hi Linda, The picture of your buns look so inviting, I will try to follow your recipe. It seems easy enough too. I never thought of making my own hamberger buns, but now thanks to you, I do.

        Blessings to you.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Now I fully enjoyed this. But I disagree with you and Bill. Burger meat is something to be treasured. We are talking about four times a month. I just go crazy and get the most "nothing bad in here" stuff. (I am a little more concerned with processed wheat). I throw in some other stuff and fry and drain and then grill of bake.

        Do not tell anyone but I save some. Tartar - not safe.

        Three things in ground beouf, add onion, add small equal amount of precooked potato and Oregeno and garlic and a squeeze of ginger. Never serve without some kind of lettuce.

        Isn't this fun Linda. Food is so fantastic. Is it correct to call you a "master" chef? Or is there a lady name? I know Julia would eschew such a notion.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Hamburgers are not "health food", that's for sure Bill, but we enjoy turkey burgers and salmon burgers. Both are very lean and filling.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Thanks Pamela. They make any sandwich taste better.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        2 months ago from Olympia, WA

        This is something I have pretty much eliminated from my diet, and I absolutely love hamburgers. Sigh! I am not too fond of growing older at this moment, my friend. lol Happy Tuesday, Linda!

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        2 months ago from Sunny Florida

        I have never had a homemade bun like these and they look delicious. I think it kind of nice to have a bun like this for a hanburger. Very good directions.

      • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

        Linda Lum 

        2 months ago from Washington State, USA

        Flourish, I truly believe that this will transform your life. OK, perhaps that's a bit over the top, but there is no comparison of a store-bought hamburger bun (which to me become soggy and are overly-sweet) to homemade bread which has flavor and structure.

        I know that you can do this!

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        2 months ago from USA

        I've never had a homemade hamburger bun. It's one of those things that I had always classified as "store bought" until now. I'm going to put this on my list of must-try recipes. (Pudding and pasta are other things I've never made from scratch!)

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