Being in China, a lot of holidays from home slip by rather silently. Easter, Thanksgiving, Labour Day, Victoria Day… if it wasn’t for Facebook updates from my fellow Canucks, I’d completely forget to even acknowledge the holidays with a nod. Such was the case when I woke up this morning and realized it was July 1st — Canada Day.
I’m not overly nationalistic, but Canada Day is filled with all sorts of nostalgia. Sitting around camp fires, or in lawn chairs in the backyard; the smell of BBQ, the sound of friends and family chattering away between pulls from a bottle of cold beer. Sitting on the lawn at the local stadium to watch the city’s fire department launch off an (until China) epic amount of fireworks.
And so by mid-day I was beginning to jones for a bit of home. I had some meat I could grind up for burgers (duck, but hey, it makes a great burger), but I was absent buns. Unlike if I was celebrating in Canada, getting buns is not a trip down to the corner store, but rather a 20 minute taxi ride across town in hopes that one of the larger supermarkets might have some.
Screw that. I’ve done bagels and bread, how hard could buns be? As it turns out, not hard at all — in fact, considerably easier than either of those other two.
Home-baked Burger Buns
The following recipe will net you a dozen buns. I’m pretty slapdash about my measurements, so assume these are all approximate.
- AP Flour (includes enough for dusting) [375-500 g or 3-4 cups]
- Warm water [280 ml, or just a bit more than a cup]
- Oil (I used olive oil, but vegetable oil is fine) [80 ml or 1/3 cup]
- Egg [two]
- Active dry yeast [17 g or 2 tbsp]
- Sugar [50 g or 1/4 cup]
- Salt [6 g or 1 tsp]
- Sesame seeds (I mix half white and half black, but either is fine) [7 g or 2 tsp]
- Mix yeast and warm water in a bowl, making sure that your water is not so warm that it kills your yeast — if you can stick your finger in it and not recoil in pain, you’re probably alright. Once yeast is dissolved, add oil and sugar. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Add one whole egg, salt and most of the flour — stir until well mixed. Dough should be soft and not too sticky.
- Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes until smooth and elastic.
- Divide dough into 12 even pieces, shaping each into a ball. Place balls on a greased baking sheet, leaving a solid amount of space between (a couple inches should be fine — though it’s no big deal if they bake together a little bit). Cover the dough with a damp dish towel and let stand 10 minutes. Pre-heat oven to 200°C (425°F).
- Spread your sesame seeds evenly in a hot pan. Toast until just starting to turn colour — shake often.
- Take your second egg, separate, discarding yolk. Brush the tops of each bun with the egg wash, gently sprinkle toasted sesame seeds on top.
- Place in oven for about 10 minutes, but watch that they don’t get too dark. The finished buns will be a nice golden brown.
This is a somewhat simplified recipe, and skips the multiple proofs that are typical in bread/bun making. You might get fluffier buns if you let the dough rise a bit before shaping, but these turned out just fine for me.