It's been a little longer than usual between posts. I promise I'm not quitting this blog! Not yet, at the very least. Between Memorial Day weekend and life generally trending back toward a semblance of normal, I just haven't had any time to sit down and write a post. But here I am and here it is, the next post! BURGER BAPS.
Burger baps - or buns - are one of those things that I didn't really think of as a major technical challenge. And admittedly I still don't, necessarily. But I always have the benefit of looking at these technical challenges from the perspective of someone with limitless time.
Paul's floury burger baps with veggie burgers appeared on series 10 (Netflix Collection 7), episode 3 - Bread Week. As the technical challenge of the week, bakers were given Paul's pared down recipe and a limited amount of time to put it all together.
The thing that seemed to cause most of the bakers to stumble on this challenge was the proofing time - many of the burger baps came out underproved or underbaked or both. The struggle with the veggie burgers was also very evident - some of them came out fine, but there were several that just didn't hit the mark.
Making this recipe at home, I benefited from getting to just make the burger baps while also doing other things. I had no time limit to worry about. I just got to follow the recipe and do it the way it needed to be done.
I followed Paul's recipe, and I was not disappointed. The recipe is for a basic white bread burger bap - and it surprised me a little to see that this was something of an enriched dough with the sugar and butter.
This recipe was fairly straightforward, and honestly pretty easy. The biggest point of struggle was just trying to get equally sized burger baps. Seriously. Even with a kitchen scale that's difficult.
I didn't get a ton of pictures - partially because there wasn't much to take pictures of and partially because I am apparently a woman who is in the same school of thought as Paul Hollywood when it comes to baking. I get my hands dirty, and that makes using my phone to take pictures more than just a little bit of a pain in the ass. If you've ever watched the Masterclass episodes, Mary Berry regularly comments on Paul's using his hands to mix things. He typically does it one-handed, using the other hand to turn the bowl. This is a great method, and one I employee on the regular. Except I'm really bad at remembering to leave one hand free and I wind up getting both hands coated in whatever it is I'm mixing.
It's a good thing we don't get any visitors during coronavirus baking season - otherwise I would be awkwardly opening the door with hands coated in flour A LOT.
Anyway. Moving along to the recipe...
You will notice that my instructions are much cut down compared to what's on the recipe I linked above. I did not make veggie burgers. In fact, I didn't make burgers at all the night I baked these. I made burgers the next night!
1) Tip the flour into a large bowl and add the yeast to one side and the salt and sugar to the other. Add the shortening and 250ml of water and turn the mixture around with your fingertips, gradually incorporating the flour until you have a soft, but not soggy dough (you may not need all the water).
2) Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for 8–10 minutes, until silky and smooth. If you really want to toss this in your stand mixer and knead it that way, you do you, but it's definitely a bit cathartic to hand knead some dough. Place it in the prepared bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place or proving drawer for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
3) Meanwhile, divide the risen dough into 8 equal pieces and shape each piece into a loose ball: to do this, place each piece on the work surface and cover it in a cage formed by your cupped hand. Move your hand in a circular motion, rotating the ball rapidly to shape it (this will also naturally knock out the air).
4) Set the rolls aside on a floured surface, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
5) Using a rolling pin, flatten each ball of dough and place it on a prepared baking sheet. Leave enough space between each roll for expansion. Place each baking sheet in a proving bag and leave in a warm place to prove for 45 minutes, until risen to almost double in size.
6) Heat the oven to 220°C/400°F. Lightly dust the surface of the rolls with flour (or just completely forget this step like I did), then bake them for 10–15 minutes, until risen and golden brown. Leave to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
7) Once cooled, slice and serve with burgers OR freeze for future use. I kept mine in a bread basket until I had burgers the following day, then I popped the rest into the freezer.
So overall, this bake was very straightforward and simple. If you've baked bread before, this will definitely be one of those bakes where you go "ah yeah I got this".
I didn't get a crumb shot, but my burger baps had a beautiful structure on the inside and no evidence of being under- or over-proved. Phew. I rewatched the episode to see how such an error would manifest, and I am pleased to report I saw no signs of such problems.
I think the biggest thing is remembering to re-read the recipe while you're doing each step, even if you read it four times before you began the bake.
Also, for the love of all that is good, use parchment paper or a silpat or something on your baking sheets. I don't know what the hell I was smoking the day I did this bake, but I just completely abandoned the use of any non-stick surfaces when it came time to drop the dough onto a baking sheet. Fortunately there were no major problems as a result, but there was some sticking to the baking sheet and I had to very carefully scrape each burger bap OFF of the baking sheet with a spatula.
When it came time to taste test these on the following day, the consensus was very clear: these are some burger buns. They're good. They taste delightful and the structure and texture is all good. But they're still just some basic burger buns.
I will definitely be making them again. It's hard to justify the amount of money I spend on burger buns on the regular when the ingredients needed to make them are in my household at all times. Also they're not especially time or labor intensive. I'll be looking into some ways to jazz them up and do different things with them, but they're tasty and they do the job - serving as a vehicle for delicious burgers.
Next time on Bake the GBBO, I'll be making Liam's Salted Caramel Peanut Butter Millionaires.
Spoiler, they were really friggin' good.