Light Rye Hamburger Buns

Hamburger buns are important to me. Most supermarket hamburger buns are pretty boring, and are kind of like a really thick, cottony Wonder Bread, with a brown top. They act more as a vehicle for meat, than as a vital component of a hamburger. I like a soft, slightly sweet bun that can stand up to the onslaught of juice from a burger, without turning into a bloody mush. This lets most potato rolls out. Ditto for brioche buns. Ciabatta and focaccia skew too much in the other direction, for me; these breads are too substantial, chewy and tough for a hamburger. They compete with the flavor of the meat, and worse, can cause that dreaded patty slide-out, if you’re not careful when you take a bite.

These light rye buns fall somewhere in the middle. They are light and fluffy, but chewy enough to stand up to as much burger as you throw at them. They aren’t heavy with rye flavor, the way the dark rye on a patty melt is; the light rye just adds another layer of interesting flavor that you would have trouble identifying, if you didn’t know it was there. Baked to a golden brown and then grilled in butter, they’re the perfect delivery system for your next burger.

Light Rye Hamburger Buns
Adapted from a recipe on Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup medium rye flour
  • 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes
  • 2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Method:

Combine water, yeast, and sugar in bowl of standing mixer. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let sit for 15 minutes or until frothy. Add rye flour and potato flakes, mix well by hand, cover, and set aside for another 15 minutes. Add bread flour and kosher salt. Using dough hook, mix on medium speed until dough comes together and cleans the sides of the bowl, about four minutes. Add olive oil, and keep mixing until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes more. Cover, and set aside in warm place until doubled in size (approximately one hour). Lightly flour your work surface, and sprinkle cornmeal on a baking sheet. Quickly knead doubled dough by hand, and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and then flatten each ball; each disc should be about 3/4 as big as you would like your finished bun to be. Don’t flatten them too much. Place discs of dough onto baking sheet, cover loosely in plastic, and set aside for a second rise in a warm place.

The second rise can take anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Keep an eye on them; when they’re almost the diameter and height you want for your finished bun, they’re ready for the oven. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown all over. Transfer buns to a wire rack and cover with a clean dishtowel until completely cool, before slicing and serving.

Malcolm Bedell is co-author of the critically acclaimed "Eating in Maine: At Home, On the Town, and On the Road," as well as the taco-centric blog "Eat More Tacos," and the junk food-centric "Spork & Barrel." His contributions include Serious Eats, Down East, L.A. Weekly, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post and his food truck, "'Wich, Please," was named "Hottest Restaurant in Maine" for 2015 by Eater. Finally, he finds it very silly to be trying to write this in the third person.

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