Light Brioche Burger Buns

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First off, happy national doughnut day, everybody!  And in honor of this glorious day, I bring you hamburgers buns.  Totally appropriate, right?  Alright, I admit I was entirely unprepared and only found out about the holiday today.  Quite honestly, though, I would love to buy myself a doughnut pan and whip up a batch of those sweet treats.  But what I really want right now is a cronut…  Anyway, on to today’s business.

With Memorial Day just passed and Independence Day just around the corner, I figured it would be appropriate to whip up a batch of homemade hamburger buns as the grilling season swings into full gear.  And let me tell you, these are hands down the best hamburger buns I’ve ever eaten before.  They are yummy enough to be eaten on their own, or just sliced open and spread with some strawberry jam (I know, I’ve tried).

They are soft and tender, just what you’d expect from a hamburger bun, but also slightly indulgent.  The addition of an egg and a smidge of butter give these buns a brioche quality without being too rich or heavy.  Think of them as the light spritz of perfume and swipe of lip gloss you put on before going out!  Eggs and butter are those little touches that make these buns ready for a night on the town.

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With eggs and butter and the whole concept of brioche, you might be thinking that I’ve neglected my health-conscious ways.  Never fear, I haven’t!  While these aren’t full of a rich variety of whole grains–all they’ve got is wheat–I tried to keep the wheat on the nice side.  First off, the bread flour I used is totally unbleached, keeping a great deal of the wheat’s nutritional value intact.  Secondly, the smidge of all purpose flour used in the original recipe was subbed out for good old fashioned whole wheat.  You can hardly tell it’s there; it doesn’t effect the soft and lofty richness of the bread one bit!

Working with the dough is admittedly a challenge, as it is incredibly sticky and soft.  Once you resign yourself to the fact that there is no escaping dough hands without compromising the tenderness of the finished product, however, the process is quite enjoyable.

Go!  Make these burger buns.  You’ll immediately become the star of the barbeque bash!

Light Brioche Burger Buns

Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2009/07/light-brioche-burger-buns/.  Deb makes 8 buns with her dough, but I would recommend making 10 buns like Mlle Mathilde does at The Wandering Girl, http://the-wandering-girl.blogspot.fr/2012/07/cest-tendance-des-burgers-100-homemade.html.

250 mL / 1 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

3 tablespoons warm unsweetened plain soymilk

2 teaspoons active dry yeast

35 grams / 2 1/2 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar

1 large egg

470 grams / 3 cups unbleached bread flour

50 grams / 1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

35 grams / 2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 egg yolk

sesame seeds, optional

In a glass measuring cup, combine the warm water, warm soymilk, yeast, and sugar.  Mix well so the yeast dissolves completely.  Cover with a tea cloth and let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, beat one egg.

In a large bowl, combine the flours and salt.  Work the butter in with your fingers until the mixture resembles crumbs.  Using a dough scraper or a very hard spatula, work in the egg and yeast mixture until a dough forms.  Turn the dough out onto a clean, well-floured surface.  Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes.  The dough will be very sticky, but work with it.  The more flour you work into the dough to compensate for stickiness, the tougher the end product will be.  You want to keep the dough stickier than you would a normal loaf of bread.

Reshape the dough into a ball and return it to the bowl.  Cover the dough with a tea cloth and let it rest for 1-2 hours, or until nearly doubled in bulk.

Punch the dough down and cut it up into 8 or 10 equal portions.  Shape each portion into a ball and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, spaced 2-3 inches apart.  Cover with a lightly greased piece of plastic wrap and let rest for another 1-2 hours, or until well-puffed.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Place a shallow pan of water on the lowest rack in your oven.

Beat the egg yolk with one tablespoon of water.  Gently brush each bun with the egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.  Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, turning halfway through.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.  Eat within a few days, or store them well-wrapped in the freezer for one month.

Makes 8-10 buns

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