This article was originally featured in The 30 Second Wine Advisor's FoodLetter on Thursday, March 9, 2006.

Burger buns

INGREDIENTS: (Makes eight buns)

2 cups all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon (5g) instant yeast
2 tablespoons (30g) white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 egg
1 tablespoon butter


1. This procedure uses the Kitchenaid mixer with paddle and dough hook, but you can certainly replicate the process, with a little more manual labor, by hand. Put one cup of the flour in the mixer bowl and add the yeast, sugar and salt. Put in the water, olive oil and egg and beat with the paddle attachment for two or three minutes at medium-high speed, until the dough forms a rough, shaggy mass. Beat in the rest of the flour, then switch over to the dough hook and continue mixing at medium speed for another 5 minutes. (NOTE: Because I wanted a softer-textured bread, I used all-purpose flour instead of the bread flour I usually use for baguettes.)

2. The dough should be somewhat sticky. Put it on a floured bread board or counter top and knead it just a bit until it's soft and smooth. Put it in a bowl that you've greased with a little olive oil, cover with a dish towel, and leave it in a cool place to rise. It should take two or three hours to double in size; don't rush this stage, take care that it fully doubles its original mass or even a little more.

3. Gently turn the dough out on your floured surface. Don't punch it down, as the less you can "de-gas" the dough, the better crumb structure you'll achieve in the finished bread. Using a sharp knife or pastry scraper, cut the dough into eight roughly equal portions. Cover with your dish towel and let them rest for 5 or 10 minutes while you lightly grease a cookie sheet.

4. Continuing to handle the dough with reasonable care, roll each of the eight pieces into a ball. Don't worry, it's not fragile, but you'll get the best results of you don't beat up on it or roll it out flat. Try to bring all the rough edges around to what will be the bottom of the roll and pinch them in, so the part of the roll on top is smooth and doesn't show cracks or seams. Put them on the cookie sheet, well separated so they won't touch as they rise, and gently flatten them to approximate a burger-bun shape. Cover with the towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour or so; they should roughly double, but this isn't as critical as the previous rising stage, and you can cut it short if it's getting too close to dinner time.

5. Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and bake the buns for 10 minutes. Umm ... you did remove the dish towel, didn't you? The tops should turn light golden brown; it's okay to let them bake for a minute or two longer and turn heat up to 400F if they seem too pale.

6. Remove buns from the oven, place them on a rack to cool, and brush the tops with a little melted butter while they're still hot. When they cool to room temperature, slice for use as sandwich buns.

WINE MATCH: I wouldn't attempt to match a wine specifically to a sandwich bun, no matter how delicious. For the fancy burgers I made to fill these buns, though, we enjoyed a first-rate Sausal 2002 Alexander Valley Private Reserve Zinfandel from California Wine Club's Connoisseurs' Series.