The test of anything good is how it’s received. For instance, if you give a speech but all anyone remembers is the guy who asked all the questions, then you probably didn’t do your job. The same holds true in cooking. If you make something and it gets pushed to the side or not mentioned … then it probably wasn’t worth whatever you put into it.
I worried that making hamburger buns at home might end up being a worthless cause. Frankly, I am perfectly content with buying them at the store … except this week I have vowed not to spend a dime. Thus, no buying any rolls. There are myriad reasons for that … but for now, suffice it to say that I wasn’t about to break my self-imposed rules for some rolls that I could make myself.
This afternoon while Paige napped, Will and I hit the kitchen to whip up hamburger buns using a focaccia recipe that I have been making since his only words were Agooo! and Nah! This was Will’s first time working with a dough of any kind and he loved it. He used the kneading technique that he recently learned to help me massage this dough into a pretty, dimpled ball.
Then, we let it rise. The dough doubles in size during the first rise. See how the picture on the right shows a much, much later ball of dough? These before and after shots were taken from roughly the same distance. Pretty cool stuff
Did I lose you yet? I hope not. Stick with me here.
Will didn’t see the results of the rise since he was playing, so he missed the part where I punched down the ball of dough. He also missed the part where I divided it into six pieces and formed rough balls with them. Then, of course, he missed where I stuck my fingers into each one to dimple it. He’d love that step. Maybe next time. After that came the drizzling with olive oil and the sprinkling of cheese and salt (more for appearance than anything else).
After that comes the second rise. Yes, this is a bread that must rise twice.
That second rise produces the airy crumb. You’ll see (first picture, above) that my rolls had many small holes. If I wanted an even airier bun, I would have let it rise longer or perhaps at a slightly warmer temperature (I did the rise at room temperature today). But this texture was perfect for these burgers today. By the way – I love how the dimples all but disappear on second rise. It’s like you never assaulted it with your fingers at all. Seriously.
When Will finally saw the dough again, the rolls were baked and cooling. His reaction? “Hey, Mommy! The dough made bread!” Priceless.
But the best part was when we sat down to eat. Will has never been a hamburger-with-bun fan. Typically he (and Paige too) eat their burgers cut up without it. But tonight, Will ate his burger with the bun, commenting on how much he liked the rolls that we made together. And Paige? She didn’t even want the burger for once — she was content to just eat the roll.
So the verdict? Totally worth all the effort. We’ll be making our own rolls again.
Focaccia Hamburger Buns Recipe
- 1 envelope active dry yeast
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached white bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil , plus additional for drizzling
- Parmesan cheese
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and set aside. Sift together the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured cutting board and knead for 5-7 minutes, until it forms a cohesive ball. Place the ball (it'll be about the size of a softball) into a greased bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rest for one hour in a warm place. It will double in size.
- Once it's rise, punch down the dough several times. Then, divide it into six even-sized balls.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the six balls of dough on it, using your fingers to push down four times on each one (you are basically giving it dimples). Drizzle with olive oil and then sprinkle with Parmesan and salt.
- Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and let rise for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Remove towel and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
- Let cool for a few minutes before serving. Slice the rolls open and top with burgers and the fixings.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.