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Jul 16, 2014 04:48 AM

Help a non-baker make a giant (9'') hamburger bun?

So there's this super cute kids book called "How Do You Feed a Hungry Giant" It comes with a cookbook with recipes for giant foods that feed "one giant or 8 hungry kids." Recipes included are for a pizza-sized cookie, jumbo fries (baked sweet potato wedges), huge cheese crackers, a mountain of pasta (mac and cheese baked in a tube pan, then turned upside down so it looks like a mountain), broccolini "trees" with cheese sauce, and a ginormous muffin (baked in an 8-inch cake-pan. )

The booklet includes a recipe for a giant hamburger (1 1/2 lbs of ground beef or turkey baked in 9 inch pie plate) which suggests you just a buy a round of sourdough bread for the bun. That seems like leaving too much to chance. Plus, I worry about the bun being too chewy or a bad ratio of too much of bread to burger.

I'm throwing a "How to feed a hungry giant" party and would like to serve the burger, the cookie, the jumbo fries, and the broccolini "trees" with cheese sauce, the cheese crackers (cut with a fish cookie cutter so they looked like huge goldfish crackers). Maybe the mountain of mac & cheese. But I'd like to make my own hamburger bun.

I've done a lot of googling and found a woman on The Fresh Loaf who baked her own bun using Reinhart's Italian Bread recipe from Bread Baking Apprentice, but she doesn't give weights, baking times, or explain how she got that lovely twisty pattern on top of the bun.

She says, "I tried several different weights of dough to get the appropriate size/height for the buns. I applied an egg wash and seaseme seads. To form the buns, I used 9 inch cake rings. I baked them on a stone inside the ring. The cake rings do not have bottoms and are 1-1/2 inches tall."

I think I found Reinhart's Italian Bread recipe here on Smitten Kitchen, but, wow, it sounds a little advanced for me:

If it were you, how would you go about this? Either following in the footsteps of the gal on The Fresh Loaf who did it OR using a totally new approach?

Thank you!


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  1. I think that diving into a Reinhardt recipe for your first bread adventure is a bit silly, especially if you don't have the book and haven't read his first 100 pages of informative instructions. In my opinion, go tried-true, well-documented, and most of all, not such a high hydration level.

    The King Arthur standard white sandwich bread recipe is almost no-fail. I think the shaping method you found should work very well. The only question will be how much volume do you want for your hamburger bun? It might be that the King Arthur [which is a 1 lb loaf] recipe makes a bit too much bread. If this is true, weigh the extra dough into 3 oz pieces, and create smaller buns by making mini boules and then flattening before the second rise.

    And, finally, just before you put the giant one into the oven, brush with an egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds for that real bun look. Now, how will you find a giant pickle for that burger?

    1. I would do Artisan Bread in 5 minute's brioche dough and follow the brioche a tete idea, but in a tall cake pan w/out the ball on top.

      11 Replies
      1. re: chowser

        If you want to carry this theme into dessert, the hamburger cake is always a big hit with the kids.

        1. re: chowser

          Oh that is super cute! I will definitely need to bookmark that.

          I think I'm going with the pizza-sized choc chip cookie (because they give the recipe for it) and because choc chip cookies are part of the story. I also thought of doing a giant cupcake, you know, just a cake, but decorated to look like a single cupcake. But cupcakes aren't in the story. :)


          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I don't know how I missed that book when my children were young. It sounds fun. If you want an easy way to make a large CCC, I used the toll house pie recipe w/out crust. Far easier than spreading dough in a large pan and recipe is easier than a cookie one.

            1. re: chowser

              Thanks for the tip on the big cookie!

              The book was published in 2011. It is a great book. The story is cute --really fun-- and the book has lots of pop-ups and flaps, etc. Then the boy's dog (cowgirl) provides funny running side-commentary throughout the book, which is probably for kids older than mine. And then, of course, the message is a nice: if someone is hungry, you should help them.

              I don't know if the recipes are any good or not. It seems that the publisher sent out a advance copies of the book, together with two recipes (the cookie and the muffin) and an author Q&A, to every mommy blogger in the universe. Almost every blog post is identical and no one, as far as I can tell, seems to have cooked anything from the recipe pamphlet. So, I don't really know how good these recipes are. I'm guessing they are fine. The author has a day job running a "food-focused PR business."

              One kindergarten teacher did a food drive using some materials the publisher provides on their website. (Some of which I might print out for my party--coloring pages and stuff.) I think they also give you instructions about how to make an 8-foot paper giant (who I guess will have to be a guest at my party!)


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                If your daughter is patient enough to stand still, you could put butcher block paper on the ground, have her stand at one end, shadow on the butcher block and trace the outline. She could be the giant.

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Thanks-- I was on my phone so didn't want to bother (which also explains the odd autocorrect errors). I bake it in a 12" aluminum pizza pan so it's much thinner.

                  1. re: chowser

                    chowser, how long do you bake it for?


                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      If you use the 12", start looking at 40 minutes to be on the safe side. Even underbaked it's a good "cookie."

          2. re: chowser

            I'm familiar with their 5 minute basic recipe so this seems like a genuine possibility, thank you!


          3. If you have access to an Italian Bakery where you live, some bake a great round loaf about the size you're looking for.

            1. Two alternative New approach suggestions, since it sounds like preparing the other food for the party will keep you plenty busy without learning to make yeast bread added into the mix

              1) Buy a round loaf of King's Hawaiian bread (which will be very soft) and cut an extra slice out of the middle if you feel it is too thick.

              2) Something like this Savory Pan Bread (non-yeast) might work as your bun, and is quick enough to make that you can easily do a trial run.

              Savory Sweet Potato Pan Bread

              Paraphrased from Betty Crocker Holiday 2001 magazine

              Prep: 15 - 20 min. Bake 30 min

              1 1/2 cups uncooked shredded sweet potato (about 1 small or 1/2 large)
              1/2 cup sugar
              1/3 cup vegetable oil
              2 eggs
              1 cup all-purpose flour
              1/2 cup whole wheat flour
              2 teaspoons instant minced onion (or 2 T. fresh)
              1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
              1 teaspoon baking soda
              1/2 teaspoon salt
              1/4 teaspoon baking powder
              1 Tablespoon sesame seed (optional)

              1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom only of round pan (9 x 1 1/2 inch) or square pan ( 8 x 8 x 2).

              2. Pare sweet potato and shred into large bowl. Use spoon to mix sweet potato, sugar, oil and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, whole wheat flour, minced onion, rosemary, baking soda, salt, baking powder. Spread in pan. sprinkle sesame seed over batter.

              3. Bake 25 - 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm. 8 servings.

              When I make this to serve with turkey meal, it gets served with orange butter: 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 teaspoon grated orange peel, 1 Tablespoon orange juice. Chill 1 hour.

              4 Replies
              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                Interesting ideas, both! I might try that sweet potato bread just for the heck of it!


                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                  Do you see the round loaves of Hawaiian bread in grocery stores? I guess I've never looked for them. The little rolls, for sure. Are the just at Cub, etc?


                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                    Yes at most grocery stores, although I've not looked at Cub recently and it doesn't show up on the product's locater list - cool tool you can use to find a place in your area that carries this.

                    That website tool even says what department / area of the store should have it. I most often use these to hold spinach dip for a party, since we don't like sourdough bread / rounds. I've found them in the deli area in racks below the salads/meats. I've found them in dairy near packaged premade "pizza crusts". I've found them in bread aisle.

                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                      King's Hawaiian is usually in the deli section at Cub.

                  2. Knowing my bread baking skills I would go down to the local bakery, describe what I want and have it made.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: genoO

                      We do have an awesome neighborhood bakery and I've had great luck with custom (cake) orders with them in the past, so this is a definite possibility. But, being a bit of a control freak, I just want to have the skills to do this myself. Also, if it goes well, I expect I will have to make giant burgers more than once. Kids get fixated on things (at least mine does)...