When you live abroad you know firsthand that you sometimes you crave ooey gooey brownies, soft pretzels and melted cheese (yes, a foodie can still have an occasional craving for Velveeta), or a burger done up in style!
But, even if you aren’t an expat, this series is still for you if you like making things from scratch that most people might buy from the frozen section of their local supermarket. And that is one of my favorite things about cooking abroad. I get to find authentic recipes that remind me of home that don’t have freezer burn or tons of additives and preservatives.
Join me in my expat kitchen for all-American recipes I’ve successfully been able to recreate living thousands of miles from home.
AKA: THE PERFECT HAMBURGER BUN
It’s not the Fourth of July. Obviously. It’s not even spring yet. In fact, if that in-between thawing and freezing doesn’t start to happen flooding will be a real concern in my home state…But over in China, I’ve been craving the perfect burger.
The other evening I started to get visions of Sichuan American fusion food….Crispy Chicken Hamburgers. I thought I’d revisit the recipe for crispy chicken and do thin patties, instead of cubes. But I would need a place to put it.
Enter, the hamburger bun. It is pretty hard to go from eating bread in France to eating it in China. I have yet to find a freshly baked loaf of baguette, and I’m pretty sure I won’t find even the semi-stale prepackaged buns we’d get every so often in France when we were craving burgers.
So, I decided I would have to make my own.
Now, sometimes, like my search for the perfect tang yuan filling, you have to try a recipe three or four times before you get the magic combination. Other times…you can stop after the first try.
I was hesitant to make homemade hamburger buns, because I’d made them once before years ago and found them to turn to mush with the ketchup and warm burger. I was pleasantly surprised.
This recipe is fairly straightforward as far as bread recipes go. So, make yourself a batch (you get 12), get your favorite condiments ready (we had homemade chipotle mayo and mustard) and pretend it is the Fourth of July, you are wearing shorts, and sipping an icy margarita.
And while you’re at it, let me know what your favorite hamburger bun filling is!
- 4 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 1 egg
- ¼ cup butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 ½ cups 2% or whole milk
- Egg wash, 1 egg+1 teaspoon water, whisked together
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar, and yeast). In a bigger, second bowl add the cooled, melted buter, milk and the egg. Whisk everything together. Then add the flour little by little until you get a ball of dough that you can start to knead by hand.
- Since this recipe uses cups instead of weight, you may need a little more flour if your dough is too sticky to work with. Fill a ½ measuring cup and use it to flour your work surface, the dough, and your hands as needed.
- Knead by hand for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and will bounce back if you press into it with your finger.
- Take a pastry brush and scrape out the butter residue from the pan you used or the bowl you stored it in. Use it to lightly coat the dough. Alternatively, melt two tablespoons, let cool, and brush on.
- Cover and let rest for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
- Punch down and shape into 12 equal sized balls of dough. Let them rest for 20 minutes on the cookie sheet you will use to bake them on.
- Then, lightly press down on their tops. Brush with the egg wash and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top.
- Bake at 400°F (200°C) for about 15 minutes. The finished buns should be golden brown and sound hollow if you slightly knock on them.
- Let them cool before you slice them in half and add your favorite burger and condiments. (You can also toast them in the oven if you prefer to keep them warm when you serve like my husband does.)
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