“Brioche Lite” Burger Buns

Brioche is rich pastry of French origin that is somewhere between a bread and yeast-raised cake. The most common form is the brioche à tête which is formed and baked in fluted flared tins resulting in roll resembling a head, hence the name. Traditionally, brioche contains copious amounts of egg and butter alone with cream and sometimes a bit of brandy. In this recipe, I have moderated the richness and altered the form to produce buns suitable for hamburgers or other sandwiches. I have also incorporated sourdough starter to provide an interesting depth of flavor. And I used all-purpose flour (except for what is in the starter) to achieve a softer crumb.

A note about units and measures: The chemical reactions in baking are between masses of ingredients, not volumes. It is virtually impossible to achieve consistent results using volumetric measures. A cup of flour, for example, can vary in mass by more than 10%. Accurate digital scales are inexpensive so there is no good reason to continue with the antiquated use of cups and other volumetric measures for most purposes—the exception being for small amounts like teaspoons. I use the metric system because it much easier to do the math resulting in fewer errors. One need not be familiar with that system to use my recipes. Just push the appropriate button on your scale and read the dial.

Makes 8 100-gram (approximately 3½ ounce) buns

Ingredients

100% hydration sourdough starter

200 grams

Water

113 grams

Large eggs, lightly beaten

2 each

All-purpose flour

341 grams

Sugar

22 grams

Melted butter (or oil)

22 grams (1½ Tablespoon)

Salt

9 grams (1½ teaspoon)

Instant dry yeast

4 grams (1 teaspoon)

Method

Note: This dough is very slack, almost more like a thick batter than a typical bread. One could knead it by hand using the stretch and fold method but a heavy-duty stand mixer works much better. 

Place the ingredients into the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer in the order presented. Fit the dough hook and knead at the speed setting recommended by the mixer manufacturer. After a few minutes when the dough is beginning to come together, stop the mixer and, using a stiff spatula, scrape down anything sticking to the sides of the bowl. Continue to knead for a total of about 10 minutes.

Put a bit of oil in the bottom of a large proofing bowl. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board or counter and, with well-floured hands, form into a ball. Place in the bowl and roll around to coat with oil. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the dough, cover the bowl with a towel, and set aside to proof until doubled in size, about 2 hours if you used the instant dry yeast.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Generously butter the insides of eight 10-cm (3¾-inch) baking rings and arrange them in the pan. Allow them to rise until they are just above the sides of the rings. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden.

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