I'm pretty excited about this. I finally made hamburger buns, and yes, that is exciting. I'd heard for years that Nancy Silverton's recipe for brioche buns was the best there is, and I put off trying it time and again. I had all sorts of excuses. These buns are a little bit decadent, they take a little time to make, and if my first test run turned out ok, I would need freezer space to store the extra buns. I finally got over the excuses, went for it, and couldn't be happier that I did. They were insanely good. I told you I was excited. The recipe is found in the Breads from the La Brea Bakery book, and that book has never disappointed. The buns are made from the raisin brioche bread dough recipe only you skip the raisins of course. It is a three-day process to make them, but not much work is involved on any of those days. The first day is for making the sponge with both sourdough starter and some yeast, and that sits for a day. The next day, the dough is mixed, and that again is left for a day to develop flavor while it ferments. Day three is for shaping the buns and baking, and the dough is so delightful to work with and smells so fantastic, you'll be happy to do this. The only change I will make next time will be to cut the dough into fourteen buns instead of twelve because even though they were shapely and kind of stunning at a nice, big size, they were a bit bigger than I expected for hamburger buns.
I did say this was a three-day bread, but it really was very easy. It only took a few minutes to mix the sponge made from water, yeast, sourdough starter, milk, and bread flour. It was covered and left at room temperature for about twelve hours and then placed in the refrigerator for twelve hours. The next day, the brioche dough was made. First, five eggs were whisked in a small bowl. Then, in the bowl of a stand mixer, the sponge was combined with half the eggs, more bread flour, and sugar. After mixing with a dough hook, the remaining eggs were slowly added. Once the eggs were incorporated, the mixer was turned to high speed, and this gives it a workout, and the dough was mixed until smooth. The stand mixer will move around from the weight of the dough, so don't walk away. Next, the fun, decadent part of brioche happens in which nine ounces of butter is slowly added piece by piece as the mixer continues at a slower speed. When the butter has all been worked into the dough, you remove the dough from the bowl and knead for a few minutes, and that's it for day two. The dough was placed in an oiled bowl, covered tightly, and left in the refrigerator to slowly ferment for a day. On the third and final day, the dough was divided into twelve pieces which resulted in rather big buns, and next time I will divide it into fourteen, but those twelve pieces of dough were left to rest under a towel for a few minutes. After resting, each piece of dough was formed into a smooth bun and placed on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Six buns fit on each of two sheets. The baking sheets were covered with towels, and the buns were allowed to proof for three hours. Before baking, I brushed them with an egg wash and sprinkled on black and white sesame seeds. They baked for a total of about 25 minutes with some water spritzing for the first five minutes.
These might be worth baking for the brioche aroma from the oven alone. But, who am I kidding? They were easily the most delicious things to sandwich a burger I've encountered. They have some give without being squishy and are easy to bite into when filled with a patty and toppings, and the flavor is all it should be with the butter, eggs, sourdough, and long, slow fermenting of the dough. Now I know, there's no need for excuses, and this is the bun I'll want for all future burgers.
I’m submitting this to Yeastspotting where you’ll find some seriously well-made bread.