Hamburger Buns | Make It Yourself Series

During the first week after arriving in Rwanda, right before Christmas, I found myself searching through the local grocery stores to find ingredients for recipes that I wanted to make and bring to the parties we had been invited to. I quickly understood what everyone had prepared me for…be ready to have to go to multiple places to get all your shopping done as well as to buy it if you see it because it might not be available tomorrow. With limited supplies in our kitchen until our household goods arrived, I felt limited in what I could make. At first, I became overwhelmed, imagining two years of not having everything at my disposal like I did at home. Once that initial shock wore off and I had successfully made several dishes, I began to realize the opportunity I was now being afforded. Hamburger Buns - Dough

In the States, I would say…”I could totally make this from scratch myself!” This usually never happened because I would always over-extend myself with whatever get-together we were having and find myself having to resort to store-bought versions to preserve my sanity. Instead of giving up the recipes I am used to, I now have the opportunity to put new spins on it with local ingredients or ditch the store bought, not-all-that-good-for-you-versions for homemade ones! This internal panic…I mean discussion, has lead me to do this {Make it Yourself} series. I’ll showcase my attempts at making my own versions of some of our favorites. Here are a few things I am thinking about trying to make from scratch: potato rolls, hoagie rolls, crescent dough (you can’t make Crescent-wrapped Baked Brie without CRESCENT DOUGH!), potato chips (salt and vinegar & jalapeno are the favorites of my husband and I), dog treats (our two pups deserve to be spoiled, too), pop tarts, bagels, pretzels, hummus, and whatever else inspires me or what I discover I can’t find. But today, I will share with you my first homemade success…HAMBURGER BUNS!Hamburger Buns

Two weekends ago, we had our first get-together at our house after arriving in Rwanda. We are big fans of hosting whether it’s a cook-out or a themed party or shower. Both my husband and I enjoy planning menus, making delicious food, and treating our friends to our creations. This time we decided to make hamburgers on our charcoal grill. Of course, hamburgers aren’t a staple on many menus here and are not commonly made so buns for them are only usually made by custom order. I took this as a challenge to make my own from scratch. Although slightly anemic-looking because of lighter colored yolks in the eggs here, I was happy with how they turned out. If you find yourself without access to buns or just want to try making them yourself, try out this recipe. Hamburger Buns - Burger

Equipment:

  • Large mixing bowl
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Wax paper/plastic wrap
  • Aluminum foil
  • Baking sheets
  • Wire rack

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of yeast
  • 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of water
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 1/2 cups of flour

Instructions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 310º (if you are at higher altitudes, or 325º if you are not).
  • Dissolve the yeast in a large mixing bowl of warm water. Make sure your 1 cup and 2 tablespoons of water is at 110º before adding to the bowl. The yeast should be fully dissolved in about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add egg and salt to the bowl once the yeast is dissolved. Add flour a 1/2 cup at a time until it becomes a soft dough.
  • Put the dough onto a floured surface. I prefer to wax paper but I realized I didn’t have any on hand so I used plastic wrap instead which worked just fine. Knead the dough until it is soft and elastic, about 5 minutes. Add additional flour if the dough is too tacky.
  • Divide the dough into 8-12 rolls (depending on the size of your hamburger patties). If you’d like perfectly round buns, be sure to pinch together any seams in the dough. Place on aluminum foil-lined and greased baking sheet. You should leave 2-3 inches between each roll.
  • * I like to sprinkle cornmeal on the baking sheet prior to putting dough on the pan but didn’t have any in stock when I made this. The cornmeal will help prevent the bottoms from sticking.*
  • Before putting the dough in the pre-heated oven, cover them with plastic wrap and let them sit for 15 minutes.
  • Take a knife and make two shallow cuts in a cross shape or two parallel lines.
  • Bake the rolls for 8-10 minutes or until the tops are golden brown. Then, transfer them to wire racks and allow to cool. Use now or freeze for later.

{A Hint of Ginger | High Altitude Baking}: At Kigali’s 5,000 feet above sea-level, I usually drop the temperature down by about 15º. Some recipes also require additional flour and liquid ingredients as well as less baking powder. I recently tried to make a cupcake recipe that I love making but my cupcakes essentially exploded into a sheet cake in the oven. After talking to other people here and researching online, I found that using about a 1/4 less baking powder than the recipe calls for is a good rule of thumb, although it will obviously depend on the recipe itself so it is a lot of winging it and hoping it turns out right!

{A Hint of Ginger | Changing it up}: If you’d like to add a little something to your rolls, you can make an egg wash and then brush it on the buns before putting in the oven. You can then add sesame seeds, salt, or any other topping or spice you’d like to add a little extra to the buns.

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