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Soft & Pillowy Hamburger Buns

Soft & Pillowy Hamburger Buns

Miscellany/Trivia, Recipes

hamburger buns

Did you know that some of your favourite foods came about by mistake?  Here’s a couple of my favourite examples:

  • While making chocolate cookies, Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn, discovered she was out of baker’s chocolate. She  found sweetened chocolate in the pantry though, which she broke into small pieces and added to the dough.  Chocolate chip cookies were born.
  • George Crum, a chef at Carey Moon Lake House in Saratoga Springs, got so frustrated when a customer repeatedly sent back his plate of potatoes with demands for them to be crisper and thinner that he lost his temper, sliced the potatoes paper thin and fried them until they were hard as a rock. To the chef’s surprise, the customer loved them and wanted more.  Soon, the whole world was crazy for potato chips.

And what does that have to do with IV and hamburger buns, you might ask?  Well, it seems I made a wee mistake myself…My mistake was forgetting the eggs when I went shopping for my last big catering event of the summer.  I discovered my omission about 4 hours into the prep, right after I pulled out the KitchenAid to mix up the bun dough.

If you’ve ever spent 4 hours prepping food (with another 4 hours still to go), you know the kitchen can really wipe you out.  My energy level wasn’t there for another trip to the store — even though I could have been there and back in 20 minutes — it simply wasn’t going to happen.

So the adjustments began.   I had 2 eggs instead of the 4 I needed to make 2 dozen buns.  I also knew I had to glaze the buns with an egg wash before they went into the oven.  Unglazed buns are OK for home use, but they really need to shine if they’re for sale, in my opinion.

The solution came in the form of oil.  Pizza dough and flatbread both use a little oil in the dough, as do a number of Italian breads.  I knew it would work, I was just a little unsure about the exact results.


Of course, you know that my substitution was a resounding success!  Light fluffy buns (and bread) that really do make the burger (or sandwich).

(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

: Light & Fluffy Hamburger Buns

: Made with 20% whole wheat. Perfect for burgers and sandwiches.

  • All-Purpose Flour – 4 Cups (525 g)
  • Whole Wheat Flour – 1 Cup (125 g)
  • Sugar – 3 Tble (45 g)
  • Instant Yeast – 2½ tsp
  • Salt – 2 tsp
  • Butter, room temp – 3 Tble
  • Egg, slightly beaten – 1 large – DIVIDED IN HALF
  • Vegetable Oil – 2 Tble
  • Milk, room temp – ¾ Cup
  • Water, room temp – ¾ Cup
  1. Combine the flours, sugar, yeast, salt and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix, using the paddle attachment, on low speed until the butter is in small pieces.
  2. Whisk half of the egg and the oil into the milk and water. Increase the mixer speed to medium and carefully pour in the liquid mixture. Once the dough has formed into a ball, change to the dough hook and scrape down the bowl.
  3. Knead with the stand mixer on medium, until the dough is soft and supple — but not sticky — about 6 minutes, scraping down the bowl as required. (You may need to add a little flour to get the right dough. It depends on the humidity in the air.) Pour 1 tsp oil into the bowl, roll the dough to coat, cover with a plate or towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the dough is doubled in size.
  4. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces, about 3 oz each. Form each piece into a ball, pulling the edges into the middle as you rotate the dough, in order to create surface tension so the buns rise and bake evenly. Flatten each ball (see notes) with the palm of your hand and arrange on a parchment or Silpat lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough.
  5. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and set aside to rise a second time, until the buns are almost doubled in size, about 60-90 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  7. Brush the tops of the buns gently with the remaining half egg whisked with 1 tsp water. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake the loaves for 15-18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the tops are golden brown and the buns are light and hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  8. Cool on a rack for at least 45 minutes before slicing.
  9. Store in a paper bag on the counter to keep the crust firm and the interior fresh for 2 days.


  • When I say flatten each ball of dough, I mean FLATTEN.  Use a rolling pin if necessary to get the circumference you want.  Don’t worry about deflating the dough too much, the second rise will take care of that.
  • For light and fluffy bread,  divide the dough into 2 loaves and shape as described here.

Preparation time: 3 hour(s) 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 15 minute(s)

Number of servings (yield): 12

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