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Mar 19, 2012 12:39 PM

I don't bake, but I want to make (good) hamburger buns.

I'm not much of a baker. When I look at internet recipes that list a dozen ingredients for a simple hamburger bun, I figure there's got to be a simpler way. I can make the no-knead bread, that's just flour, water, yeast & salt. It tastes good. However I can't really shape buns out of that mixture too well.

Someone on here must know of a better way.

Alternatively, I've thought about using rounds of polenta, however when I've tried this these don't seem the have the "strength" (is that the right word here?) to be held like a bun; They just end up splitting and causing a mess. I can eat them with a fork & knife, and it's tasty, but when I eat a burger, I want to use my hands. Is there a way to make polenta where it will hold together better?


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  1. I don't know about the polenta buns but you could use artisan bread in 5 minutes, similar to no knead, only you can shape it into buns:


    1 Reply
    1. re: chowser

      this is a good recipe and instructs you to cut with a donut cutter vs. shaping by hand which might be a better option if you're a novice

      Any enriched dough recipe--meaning that it includes fat and dairy--will made a bun that is miles better than store bought. I make them pretty regularly and stash in the freezer so I can pull out only as many as I'll need. My last batch was the Joy of Cooking brioche recipe spiked with a healthy dose of sourdough starter I was loathe to toss. Probably my best "recipe" yet!

    2. We get the TJs pizza dough and cut it into pieces, shape them and let them rise covered and then bake. They come out good.

      1. Flour, salt, dried milk, sugar, butter, yeast, egg... I think that's everything that goes in mine. That's only three more than the no knead. I'm not sure it is a reasonable goal to want to make good hamburger buns without learning how to bake. It's not that hard.

        Why do my photos keep getting turned sideways? Very aggravating.

        10 Replies
        1. re: kengk

          Mmmm...those look yummy, kengk.

          1. re: kengk

            the dried milk is key here for the texture.. i use pretty much the same ingredients, starting with a sponge, and am happy to give quantities/recipes if you're interested.

            1. re: Emme

              Why is dried milk and water different from milk? I've always wondered since I never have dried milk.

              1. re: chowser

                I think it probably comes from the convenience of a baker not having to keep a perishable item on hand. No milk drinkers at our house so we only buy it for some particular reason. The dried milk lasts more or less indefinitely on the shelf.

                I have substituted fresh milk for dried in recipes and had no problems.

                1. re: kengk

                  That's what I was guessing. I've only used milk recipes, not dried milk, for these types of bread.

                  1. re: chowser

                    Because I always stock feed-bag size sacks of dried milk, I've never been forced to ponder the question. I'd have to look and see if the dried milk + water equals a "normal concentration" portion of milk... My instinct says that maybe it uses a little less water to milk powder, the benefit being the addition of the extra protein and sugar that provides just that slightest bit of fluffy chew... i could be totally wrong though... stranger things have happened.

                    1. re: Emme

                      I think it' preferred for the same reason some recipes have you scald milk before using it--it denatures the proteins and that somehow that leads to a better finished product.

                      Which in my mind begs the question of the difference between dry milk vs. instant dry milk in baking. I have some small label kind from the co-op and it's very clearly labeled non-instant. The stuff that King Arthur sells is also non-instant. Not sure what this means, functionally. So far I've only ever used it to make Crack Pie and I have nothing to compare that to.
                      I use dry buttermilk like crazy. I buy three or four cans at a time.

                      At my house dry milk is preferred for convenience in baking. No one drinks milk, so I almost never have it unless it's to make yogurt.

                      1. re: splatgirl

                        Instant dissolves easily in water, non-instant does not! :)

                        1. re: splatgirl

                          You are correct about fresh milk and baking. The enzyme (or protein fragment) that is of most concern from milk in breadmaking is called "glutathione". As the name might suggest, it works to weaken bonds in gluten. If you need extensibility or tenderness, that might help you a bit. Glutathione will usually reduce loaf height or volume, though, due to these weakening effects.

                  2. re: chowser

                    last 2 times I bought it (dried-powdered milk) it was on sale and makes 8 qts. I don't buy it for drinking just to have in case a recipe like this comes up. about 3 1/2 bucks a box.

              2. Polenta is made from corn that doesn't have any gluten so it falls apart when you try to pick it up and make a burger bun out of it.

                If you can make no-knead bread then you can easily make burger buns. It is a simple dough that is easy to work with.


                1. I have experimented with a lot of dough types for hamburger buns, and by far the best result has come from a potato bread recipe. It includes boiled, riced potato and has both structure and lightness/softness.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sandylc

                    If you are not a major baker - how about purchasing a bread machine. I love to bake and I could not do without my bread machine. I make a terrific kaiser roll to use as "hamburger buns". If you do purchase a bread machine - and would like my kaiser roll recipe -just post here.