Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hamburger Buns

Hey there! My goodness but its been a while since I've been around these parts. I've missed writing and sharing and all that other blogging goodness, but it seems that summer has a way of sweeping you up in its arms and not letting go. What is it about the days of summer? At moments they appear stretched out as long as the eye can see, but then in a blink of that same eye they're gone.

I had such a fun, busy, relaxed yet productive summer that I am bummed not to have shared more of it with you all. Much of the summer has, of course, revolved around food. There have been BBQ's, Fair's where I consumed my yearly quota of fried food, lots of hummus and falafel at this gem, and even a trip to the Reno Rib Fest where I embarrassingly managed to not consume a single rib, but did stuff my face with an embarrassing amount of pulled pork.

Much of my food experience has revolved around summer produce as I have become a bit obsessed with canning over the past few months, and as such, most of my free time has been spent preserving those fleeting fruits and vegetables of summer. It has been an extremely fun and rewarding hobby that has made me appreciate the food that we cook for ourselves even more. If you will indulge me, I hope to share some of that canning joy (and some of the trials and tribulations as well) with you soon.

In the meantime, I'd like to share with you some of my favorite produce of the summer season, and a few of the things I've been making with them, along with a Hamburger Bun recipe that changed all future hamburger experiences for me.
Being a very food oriented person, I tend to associate the changing season with the foods that go along with them. I particularly experience this association with fresh produce. As soon as a fruit or vegetable comes in to season it triggers a changing of the guard for me. I love the way that pumpkins scream fall, that the taste of fresh peas make me feel like it's spring, and that there's nothing else like a ripe heirloom tomato that's picked at the height of the hottest time of year. And those strawberries above, eaten at their peak of ripeness in May, tasted like the promise of summer. With every weekly trip to the Farmer's Market comes a sense of excitement of what newly ripened item may have blossomed in the short time between my last visit. Here's where some of that excitement led me this past summer:
I had previously spoken to you about these cherries here, but they're worth another mention. Cherry season is so fleeting that have a bad habit of gorging myself on them like they're going out of style, because in a way they are. Besides eating them out of hand there were also put to good use in this delicious cherry pie, which showcased not one, but two varietals of cherries:
One of the earlier vegetables to appear on the summer scene was squash:
I had good luck with squash in my garden this summer (which was about the only thing I had luck with in my garden), and so there were quite a few squash dishes enjoyed at my home. Probably the one I enjoyed most (and not shockingly the least healthy) was this savory zucchini tart which was filled with a garlicky ricotta mixture and topped off with thin slices of yellow and green squash. It was elegant and delicious, and a great way to highlight the squash bounty.
When corn is in season I purchase as much as I possibly can. Every Friday at the Farmer's Market I pick up 4-6 ears with no specific plan in mind, but I always manage to find something delicious to do with them.
Which is where this soup comes in. This dish quickly became one of my favorite meals of the summer. I must have made it three or four times, which is unusual for me. I don't tend to repeat dishes very often, unless they're winners, which this soup is. What we've got here is a creamy corn soup topped with shrimp, avocado, roasted poblano peppers, green onions and cilantro. I toyed with the corn soup recipe a lot, tweaking and changing it a little every time, with my last attempt being the most successful. It might seem like a lot of toppings, because it is, but the combination is heavenly. Succulent shrimp, smoky peppers, the crunch of the green onion against the fatty richness of the avocado; all perched atop a soup of creamy goodness. I love this soup. Could go on about it all day. But I'll stop myself.
Ahhh tomatoes. If any vegetable feels like summer, it's this one. Because there is just no comparison to a fresh summer tomato. I know they sell them year-round in the grocery store, but those aren't real tomatoes. Those aren't bursting with juices, waiting to be sliced and piled atop mozzarella and basil in a caprese salad. They aren't like these little jewels, which I split in half and slowly roasted in the oven until they were so carmelized in their own juices that they tasted like candy.
This bowl of beauties were also roasted in the oven, but they were turned into another one of my favorite summer soups.
The method for this soup is so simple that I make it as often as possible when tomatoes are in season. Simply slice tomatoes in half and roast them on a baking sheet with some unpeeled garlic and a drizzle of olive oil. Let them hang out until they're blistered, shrunken and spilling their juices. Saute some diced onion, carrot, and additional garlic in a pot until softened. Add your roasted tomatoes and garlic and then add stock until it just covers the veggies. Simmer it for thirty minutes or so and then puree the mixture until smooth. Feel free to add in some large handfuls of basil while you're at it, and maybe pile some on top for good measure. So so good.
And finally this summer, there were peaches. Oh peaches. You have been so good to me this summer. Remember all that canning I mentioned earlier? Well the peach dominated that hobby this summer. I bought them by the boxful and went to work putting them away for winter when I knew they would be highly appreciated. In the meantime I appreciated them in numerous pies and cobblers which are always the highlight desserts of the summer for me. Look at how beautiful they are! That rosy shade! That little bit of fuzz! Such a cute little fruit I tell ya.
Pretty soon though all the peaches will be replaced with crisp apples, winter squashes and root vegetables. And while I'm sad to see the summer produce go, I welcome what's to come with open arms. Because even though I will miss all those caprese salads, juicy summer berries, and fresh ears of corn dripping with butter, I have a whole new crop of possibilities to look forward to. And the fact that these items only come around once a year make them that much more special.
These hamburger buns are special, but they should be eaten all year long. I made them for a BBQ in July, and they changed the way I thought of homemade hamburgers forever. These are no ordinary bun. They're light and fluffy on the inside with a chewy delicious exterior. If there ever was a gourmet hamburger bun, then this would be it.
I cannot urge you strongly enough to try this recipe. As I always am with recipes involving yeast, I was skeptical of how these would turn out. But my fears were put aside as soon as these puppies came out of the oven. I couldn't believe that I had made a hamburger bun that tasted this good. I know that BBQ season is fading, and I'm coming to you a bit late in the game, but these are worth one last fling with the grill.

Light Brioche Burger Buns
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Notes: These are definitely best eaten the day they are made, so try and aim for that if possible. I used black sesame seeds on top as that's all I had on hand, but feel free to experiment with other toppings. Poppy seeds, onion or garlic flakes, they all sound good to me!

Makes 8, 4 to 5-inch burger buns

3 tablespoons warm milk
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
3 cups bread flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Sesame seeds (optional)

In a glass measuring cup, combine one cup warm water, the milk, yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about five minutes. Meanwhile, beat one egg.

In a large bowl, whisk flours with salt. Add butter and rub into flour between your fingers, making crumbs. Using a dough scraper or a wooden spoon, stir in yeast mixture and beaten egg until a dough forms. Scrape dough onto clean, well-floured counter and knead, scooping dough up, slapping it on counter and turning it, until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. The dough might be on the sticky side, but try and use as little flour as possible or else the buns will be tough.

Shape dough into a ball and return it to bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, one to two hours.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using dough scraper or large knife, divide dough into 8 equal parts. Gently roll each into a ball and arrange two to three inches apart on baking sheet. Cover loosely with a piece of plastic wrap lightly coated in nonstick spray and let buns rise in a warm place for one to two hours.

Set a large shallow pan of water on oven floor. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in center. Beat remaining egg with one tablespoon water and brush some on top of buns. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if using. (Note: Use caution when opening oven door as the steam from the pan of water can be very hot) Bake, turning sheet halfway through baking, until tops are golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.


  1. Hello there:) I'm new to your blog but will be following along-can't wait to keep up!

  2. strange - i made burger buns for the first time this weekend, and i feel the same way! these look great, too. glad you're back!

  3. I've missed you ladies! Glad to hear you're back in action.

  4. Something is so pleasing about the picture of the cut squash rounds. And the soups sound wonderful, cilantro and basil are the two best little leafs ever. (oh, except for sage!)

    I can't wait for Fall...honeycrisp apples and Kabocha squash and pumpkin...bring it!!

  5. Your hamburger buns look delicious!


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