Of all the bread products I’ve replaced in my household with homemade, oddly enough, the hotdog and hamburger buns were the most difficult. I must have tried three different recipes for buns this summer, and I didn’t like any one of them… they were crusty, tough, and strange tasting. I was looking for something that was more like store-bought: soft and neutral. You know, something that didn’t distract you from what was inside the bun.
It took me an awful long time to realize that I’d been making the right recipe all along this summer (albeit modified for instant yeast now)… except I had been putting it in a loaf pan. Apparently, it’s all about the shape! I feel a bit like a dope now, but you know how it is… hindsight is 20/20.
Now I have my buns and I have it successfully without weird dough conditioning agents or “may contain” warnings. Oh, and they are highly customizeable. And they make better breadsticks than the Olive Garden’s. Oops, did I say that out loud? Yup. Awesome (soft) breadsticks. I’m not much of a baguette sort of gal, not unless there’s dip involved.
This recipe makes one batch of 8 buns (either hot dog or hamburger). As with the loaf bread, you can scale it upwards in even ratio, up to three batches in one go (as I did in the pictures) and store for later.
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup warm water (~120F)
- 1 tbsp instant yeast
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp light olive oil + extra for greasing dish*
- 3 cups bread flour
- Garnishes, if desired: garlic powder, olive oil, cheese, onion, herbs, etc.
Dissolve the sugar in the water and stir in the yeast. Stir to hydrate the yeast and wait long enough to see proof of the stirrings of life. If it doesn’t bubble once or twice while you watch and wait, stop! Check your water temperature and your yeast for viability, and start over.
Add the oil and salt, and one cup of flour at a time, adding the last cup slowly. Once dough pulls away from the side of the bowl, kneed on a floured surface until smooth, about 8 minutes. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest 10 minutes.
While the loaf is resting, prep your pan. I think I like pyrex results better, but doing it on a cookie sheet makes a nicer shape and is easier to remove. *If you use pyrex, oil the dish first. If you’re using a nonstick cookie sheet– don’t. Well, not unless you like a deep-dish crust on the bottom 😀
Using a sharp knife, divide your dough ball into halves progressively till you get eight evenly-sized pieces.
If you’re prepping hot dog buns for large frankfurters or sausages, you may want to do 6 for larger-sized buns. Keep the flouring on your surface very light; you will have difficulty shaping the rolls properly if you cannot get it to stick to the surface of your counter or board a little. Make rolls for hamburger buns, or put your best kindergarten skills to work for you and make thick sausages for hot dogs.
Yeah… I sucked rolling out the ropes for my clay pots too.
Arrange your buns on your cooking surface of choice. Hot dogs buns need a little bit more than a finger width between them, and hamburger buns need about two finger widths. Cover the rolls with your tea towel again, and let them rise 30 minutes, or until about doubled in size. They will begin to touch one another, and that’s OK. In fact, it’s pretty helpful for keeping a regular shape, especially in the case of hotdog buns.
Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven, and garnish as desired. If no special garnish is desired, coat the top crust with a little bit of melted butter or margarine to keep the crust from hardening. Run a butter knife around the sides of the pan to dislodge any stuck crust before removing from the pan with a spatula. Cool completely.
Stays fresh about 3 days, and can be frozen in bags for several weeks.