16 September 2011

Homemade Hamburger Buns and My Big Bad Burger Throwdown


Homemade hamburger buns are the only way to go! With apologies to all the commercial bakeries out there, I have yet to find a store-bought hamburger bun worth eating. I was certainly not going to waste top-quality, grass-fed organic beef on a lackluster commercial bun.

I developed my recipe a few years ago after having another bad bun. That bun, like all the others, had no flavor at all and mooshed into a soggy mess from the slightest moisture. Wanting a flavorful bun that, while soft, can hold up to the heat and moisture of the meat, I set to work and came up with this recipe that is so easy to make, you may never buy another commercial bun.

Chatting with Rod of Rocky Mountain Organic Meats gave me the idea of having a Burger Throwdown, pitting his grass-fed organic ground beef against the best conventional ground-in-the-store ground beef available in a chain supermarket. We've had the Rocky Mountain Organic Meats before, and even my husband (who hasn't always been as tuned-in to all this as I am) immediately tasted the difference. So I wanted to see if other people would as well.

I don't mind telling you I was a bit nervous. After all, Rod was sending me this meat and I really hoped the taste test would turn out in his favor. But I was going to conduct the test impartially and, no matter how it turned out, report my true findings to my readers.  

The Rocky Mountain Organic Meats ground beef arrived frozen, of course, and I thawed it in the refrigerator. Then I went to a popular chain supermarket and asked the butcher for their best ground-on-the-premises ground beef. I shaped the patties, seasoned them identically, cooked them in identical pans for the same length of time and did a blind taste test; only I knew which freshly made patties were which. All I told the tasters was that I wanted to get their opinions on two different kinds of ground beef, calling the conventional Number One and the grass-fed organic Number Two. 

Amazingly, the results were unanimous! All six tasters were wowed by the grass-fed organic ground beef. Two tasters actually said "Wow!" in unison. One said "I thought the first one tasted good, but the second one was just so much more flavorful." Another taster described it as "beefier," while yet another declared it "steak-like." And one just said "Wow! The second it hit my mouth, it was just Wow!" They were all really surprised that there was such a difference.

But even more important than mere taste, all Rocky Mountain Organic Meats are 100% grass-fed, grass-finished and certified organic. No hormones. No antibiotics. No grain. No GMO feed. No irradiation. No feedlots where deadly antibiotic-resistant bacteria thrive. Passionate about sustainable and organic agriculture and livestock production, Rod is dedicated to environmentally friendly agriculture practices, healthy land stewardship and--most important to me--the ethical treatment of animals. The animals are allowed to roam free and are treated humanely.

Please leave a comment below. I really want to hear from you about this!  

24-Hour Hamburger or Hot Dog Buns

(Makes 8)

2 1/2 packed cups (12.5 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 to 1 cup water
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter

1 In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, yeast and salt. With dough whisk or large wooden spoon, stir 3/4 cup water, beaten egg and oil or melted butter into flour mixture until blended. Add up to 1/4 cup more water, as needed. The dough will be very sticky. Cover with lid or plastic wrap. Place in refrigerator for at least 24 hours or up to three days.

2 On the day the buns will be served, remove dough from refrigerator. On lightly floured surface, knead gently for a minute or two. Divide dough into 8 3-ounce pieces.

3 For hamburger buns: Roll each into a smooth ball, place on greased baking sheet and flatten gently into a 3 1/2-inch disk. For hot dog buns: Roll each into a 5-inch-long cylinder, place on greased baking sheet and flatten slightly.

4 Cover and let rise until doubled, about an hour. During last 15 or 20 minutes (depending on your oven), preheat oven to 400 degrees.

5 Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove buns from baking sheet and place on wire rack to cool.

26 comments:

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Fortunately, I only use hamburger buns like oven mitts to hold the beef while I eat around them (it's an art). Think I've mentioned, I eat very little bread. Totally agree with you about the beef though. Commercial processing – beginning with cow management – just leaves you asking, "Where's the beef!" Best hamburgers I ever had were part of a barbecue thrown at a farm machinery manufacturer’s estate (I think it was Caterpillar). Anyway, the rich tycoon threw the barbecue for participants at a swimming national championship. He had these huge barbecue pits that look like crematoriums, and the thing that got me was that the beef was soaked in milk before it went over the fire. Very tasty.

Jean said...

Cool! And thanks for the tip--in future, I will think of commercial hamburger buns merely as oven mitts!

Cranberry Morning said...

I am definitely trying this recipe, Jean! The last time I made buns they were like medieval weapons, seriously! The bun in the photo even looks tender and delicious. I always mark your recipes 'Jean,' and I know they will be great! Yummy!

Jean said...

Thanks so much for the vote of confidence! I hope you'll try it soon and let me know how you like it. No more "medieval weapons"! :D

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

I hereby cede the description "over mitts" in favor of Cranberry Morning's "medieval weapons."

Jean said...

And I know you meant "oven" mitts! Blame it on your voice recognition software.

Ashley@Bakerbynature said...

The burger and bun definitely need to be equal in freshness and taste. There look like they would be a joy to eat! Thanks for sharing.

Jean said...

And thank YOU, Ashley! I actually had to throw out (and I HATE to waste food!) the leftover conventional ground beef from the taste test. We just couldn't eat it after having the best!

Sippity Sup said...

Do you know the fat content of both ground beef samples? that would be interesting I have heard that grass fed beef was naturally lean. GREG

Anonymous said...

Greg, the organic grass-fed lean ground beef is 90/10. The conventional lean ground beef I used was 80/20. Supposedly the higher fat content would add flavor, but it sure didn't! ~Jean

Charles said...

I totally agree about commercial burger buns - they have such a nasty "cake" like consistency. Nothing beats a good, home-made bun, and it's so much more satisfying and filling. Your patty nestling inside the bun looks beautiful too. I try to get as low fat mince as possible. I find the fat adds no flavour really, it just results in a shrivelled little pellet of meat after cooking, when all the fat has oozed out!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Charles, thank you! I hope you noticed my British Conversions page that helps some of my readers with measures and temperatures and such. Another thing, besides starting with really lean mince, that helps avoid that "shrivelled little pellet" is to poke a finger-sized hole in the middle of the patty. It pretty much closes up during cooking, but it really works!

Richard Sheppard said...

Those buns look so amazing Jean! I had never really thought about making buns from scratch. I'll try this next time it's burger time! I bet they'd be equally good with pulled pork and applesauce.

You've successfully made me hungry and I just had breakfast!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Richard! It will amaze your friends when you serve them hamburgers, hot dogs or any kind of sandwiches on a homemade bun!

Mrs. Tuna said...

I miss real bakeries, can't really find them in Arizona for some reason.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

I've never heard that before, Mrs. T. Guess you'll just have to bake more!

LANA said...

When I was a child, many years ago, I had an Aunt and Uncle who would have a family barbeque once each summer. I always looked forward to it because everything was made from scratch, including the rolls. The hamburgers always had chunks of onion and the rolls were divine. I have the recipe and it is almost the same as yours. Funny how you never forget things like that.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks for sharing that memory. All of my best childhood memories have something to do with food!

Pamela Nees said...

YEA for the organic grass-fed beef! Although my husband and I are pretty much limiting ourselves to fish (and occasionally chicken), there is just something wonderful about a good old fashioned burger! Sounds wonderful!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Thanks, Pamela! We don't eat a lot of beef, but when we do it has to be the best. Especially ground beef - too many recalls!

Melanie said...

Jean, that looks SOO amazingly delicious. I am kind of hypnotized by the photo.

After hearing a story on NPR about corn fed beef, I have become rather leery of it, which is too bad because I love beef. I will need to be on the lookout for grass fed beef in the future.

Jean said...

Melanie, thanks so much! I LOVE it when people like my photos! If you can't find any grass-fed beef locally, order it from this source in Wyoming. It's so worth it. I threw away the leftover conventional supermarket ground beef after the taste test; nobody wanted to eat it!

Tina Bergstrom said...

Is the crust on these buns hard or soft? All the bun recipes I've tried have a hard crust & soft inside, my family doesn't like it they prefer a soft flakey crust & I can't seem to find a recipe like that.

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Tina, these have a soft crust - I agree with your family! Replacing the water in the recipe with milk will make them even softer. Also, brushing the tops with a litte milk or melted butter just before baking will help you achieve the soft crust you like.

Tina Bergstrom said...

Thank you!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

My pleasure! Always happy to help with cooking questions, Tina!

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