I love bread. Maybe not quite as much as Oprah, but when it comes to making homemade bread I would be willing to say I surpass her. There’s nothing that gets me quite as excited as working with yeast, cultivating the perfect environment for yeast to work its magic, and forming the perfect, elastic dough. Then, to see the dough rise to perfection knowing you have dominated your bread making skills… Oh, man. That’s when you know you’ve made it. In my world, at least.
One of my lifelong dreams was to create my very own bread recipe. Well, now I can mark that dream off the list. I’ve gained a pretty thorough knowledge of working with yeast and making bread since Ian and I cut out processed food, and I put that knowledge to the test by creating this delightful, hamburger bun recipe. I could hear angles singing the entire time I was making it. No joke. You can ask, Ian. I was texting him updates the entire time I was crafting this recipe of perfection.
With cutting out processed food, I had the extra challenge of only using whole wheat flour. Want to know my secret for not using any white flour? I use a mixture of white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour in the dough. Let me tell you, whole wheat pastry flour is magic. It helps me perform stuff made of miracles in the kitchen.
I felt intrigued by the idea of using beer in this recipe. I thought it would enhance the flavor of the whole wheat flour. That it did. Plus, who does not love the idea of burgers and beer? It is the perfect weekend cookout menu! In full honesty, I hate the taste of beer, which probably makes you wonder why in the world I would include it in my recipe. Despite not enjoying the taste of drinking it straight, I love to use it in cooking. It provides a unique flavor profile to bread and an aftertaste that makes you stop and really enjoy the complexity of what you are eating.
Plus, you can get crazy creative with this recipe. I used an Amber Lager because I figured that was a beer that is pretty much universally liked, but if you want a stronger beer flavor, go with a stout. Personally, I think an oatmeal stout would be phenomenal in this recipe. I’m actually going to give that a whirl the next time I make these buns.
The smell of these delectable buns will make you dance in front of your oven while they are baking. I certainly did. It almost smells like a freshly baked pretzel but you also sense a hint of sweetness as well as the classic, fresh, baked bread smell. It’s love in a bun. If love had a smell, it would be this.
Because you are working with dry active yeast, these buns are a bit time intensive, but the hands on time is very short. I did other chores, errands, and work between the different rising times. It goes by very fast if you are doing other things. You can make these buns ahead of time or the day you plan on using them. I will say, they are the best when they are fresh out of the oven.
So here we go:
Whole Wheat Beer Burger Buns
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Makes 10 large buns
¼ C Butter
¼ C Maple Syrup
12 oz Beer of Choice (I used an Amber Lager)
2 ¼ tsp Dry Active Yeast
3 1/2 C White Whole Wheat Flour Divided
2 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour plus extra for dusting
3 Eggs (two for the dough and one for egg wash)
2 Tsp Salt
- Melt ¼ C Butter either over the stove top or in a microwave in a microwave safe bow.
- Add ¼ C Maple Syrup and ¼ C melted butter to large mixing bowl.
- Heat 12 oz beer of choice either over stovetop or microwave for approximately 20 seconds. (I placed mine in a bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds). This is probably the only time you truly want warm beer 😉 If you have a kitchen thermometer, you want it to be 100-110 degrees F.
- Add the beer to your mixing bowl with the maple syrup and melted butter. Stir together and check the temperature once more before adding the yeast ensuring it is between 100-110 degrees so as not to kill the yeast yet warm enough to activate it. (I checked the temperature with my wrist to make sure it felt warm).
- Add 2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast to the mixing bowl. Whisk together.
- Add 2 C White Whole Wheat Flour and 2 eggs to the bowl and whisk together.
- Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place it in a warm, draft free area.
- Leave the bowl covered and rest for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, the contents in your bowl should be nice and bubbly.
- Now, add 1 1/2 C White Whole Wheat Flour, 2 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, and 2 tsp. Salt.
- The mixture will be too difficult to use a whisk, so use a wooden spoon to stir everything together, then use your hands if it gets too difficult. If your dough feels extremely dry at this point, add a tablespoon or two of water. If it feels too wet, add a tablespoon or two of flour. Your dough will be a bit sticky which is ok.
- Allow your newly formed dough to rest for 15 minutes in the bowl before kneading.
- After 15 minutes, lightly flour your dough working surface with Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (I always use this when I am kneading dough because it is very light and won’t add too much flour to the dough).
- Knead your dough for about 7 minutes, adding flour as needed, until the dough feels smooth and elastic.
- Form your dough into a ball and place it in a large, lightly oiled bowl, so it can rise. Flip your dough ball around, until it’s surface is fully coated with oil. Make sure the seam of your dough ball is facing down. You want your bowl to be at least twice if not three times the size of your dough ball. We want this baby to have plenty of space to expand.
- Allow your dough to rest in the oiled bowl for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- After 1 hour, punch your dough in the bowl to release the air. Take your dough out of the bowl, form it into a ball, and cut it in half.
- Take one half and roll it into a log.
- Cut the log into 6 pieces as close to the same size as you can (cut more pieces if you want your buns to be smaller or fewer pieces if you want them larger).
- Take one piece, roll it into a ball, pinching any seams together.
- Repeat this until all 6 pieces are formed into balls.
- Repeat this same technique for the other half of the dough ball.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and evenly space the dough balls about two inches apart, seam side down.
- Place your baking sheet with the dough in a warm, draft free area covered with a tea towel.
- Allow your newly shaped buns to rise once again for 1 hour and fifteen minutes or until doubled in size.
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
- Once your dough has risen and doubled in size, uncover your baking sheet and coat the buns in egg wash, or 1 Tbsp. melted butter with 1 Tbsp. honey.
- For your egg wash, crack one egg into a bowl and add 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk together until you see bubbles form.
- Take a pastry brush or crumple a paper towel, dip it in the egg wash, and thoroughly cover the tops of each bun.
- Or, melt a tablespoon of butter with 1 tablespoon honey and spread over the tops and give a light sprinkle of sea salt for a sweet and salty flavor. (This is Ian’s and my favorite option!).
- Sprinkle your topping of choice on top of each bun (poppy seeds, sesame seeds, rolled oats, salt, or dried minced onions).
- Bake in your 400-degree oven for 12 minutes or until golden on the outside.
The more you make homemade bread, the more you become comfortable with it. To me, these buns are the perfect size for Ian’s BBQ Bacon Cheeseburgers (which will be showcased in the next post, so look forward to that!). They would also make fantastic bread for sandwiches. If you are scared of working with yeast, I gave some helpful tips in this post. When you learn what yeast needs to thrive in baked goods, making bread becomes really fun and exciting. Plus, your nose will thank you for such delightful aromas in your kitchen 😉
What kind of beer would you try with this recipe? Have you had a beer bread before?