My family enjoyed a hot dog roast in the mountains on Memorial Day. Hot dogs are something my kids rarely eat, so I watched in amusement as both of my children extracted the hot dogs from the buns, gobbled them up, and left the ketchup-smeared buns to claim a home in the trash bag. This was amusing because I always ate hot dogs without the buns as a child. Actually, as a college student too, but I upgraded to beef franks. I mean, if you’re gonna eat a tube steak, it should at least come from a cow.
I’m willing to bet the bun-shunning habit isn’t limited to me and my posterity. (Did anyone else out there shun the bun??) Because the truth is, hamburger and hot dog buns (the same thing in a different shape) don’t taste very good. You just kind of ignore them as you try to load them with enough good stuff that you don’t really taste the bun. Am I right? I cringe at the thought of eating that “bread” plain.
On the other hand, there are homemade buns. Now, I realize that most of us aren’t going to bake buns all day for a huge barbecue, myself included. But when it’s just my family, I’ll get a batch of these delicious French-bread style buns baking. Unlike the rejected store-bought hot dog buns, my children enjoy these buns solo, with no adornment whatsoever. They’re springy and pillowy inside, and a little chewy and crusty too. Expect a texture like quality French bread rather than sweet dinner rolls. They certainly don’t fall apart under a fully loaded burger, or turn into a mushy mess!
I’ve made some pretty darn bad bread in my life, but this recipe has always been absolutely dependable. I’ve made it dozens of times over the last several years. The bun recipe is just a slightly altered version of my French bread recipe, which was the bread I made for my husband for our first date. Clearly it was good, seeing as we were married six months later. Because he married me purely for my bread-making prowess. You know, since every 21st_century man is on the hunt for the woman who can bake the best bread from scratch. Obviously.
Anyway, next time you’re feeling ambitious about burger night, try making these awesome sandwich buns. They’re straight-forward and taste great. And you can pat yourself on the back for not spending two bucks on that good-for-nuthin’ fake-bread-in-the-shape-of-buns from the grocery store.
If you want a shiny crust on the buns, brush them with an egg wash before baking. If you want softer topped buns, rub them with cold butter as soon as they come out of the oven. Also, feel free to experiment with subbing whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. I like them with about 1/3 of the flour being whole wheat.
- 1 TBS active dry yeast or instant yeast
- 2 ½ cups warm water
- 2 TBS sugar
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 TBS oil
- 1 egg white, optional*
- ¼ cup water, optional*
Preheat oven to 400*.
Combine yeast, sugar, and water and let sit 5 minutes for the yeast to dissolve. Add 3 cups flour and mix until smooth. Add in salt, oil, and 1 cup flour and mix well. Add remaining 2 cups flour, mixing well after each. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, then punch down (or briefly turn on your stand mixer, fitted with the kneading hook). Repeat this step 4 more times.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into buns. You can do this by forming balls as if making dinner rolls, by rolling the dough tightly into a log and slicing it like cinnamon rolls, or by rolling it out to about 1-1 ½” thick and cutting out circles with a round cookie carter or the lid of a wide-mouth jar. Or divide the dough into hoagie-shaped buns for submarine sandwiches.
Place the buns onto a greased baking sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap or a cover that won’t stick to the dough, and let rise till double. Brush with egg wash if desired. Bake for 15 minutes.
*Optional egg wash: Whisk together the egg white and water and brush over the buns before baking.