Here's where I begin heading into personally uncharted waters. I've made burger buns a few times, but in all honesty, I'm a cook, not a baker. But on the other hand, I do know exactly what I'm looking for in a burger bun. It should have a soft, golden crust, a slightly sweet and savory flavor, and a tender, almost squishy interior. The key to these qualities is fat. Because fat interferes with the formation of gluten—the protein network that gives baked goods their structure—a fatty dough ends up less tough and more tender.
I started with my basic burger bun dough, which uses yeast, water, oil, sugar, an egg, and flour, and started upping the bacon. Stage one was tointroduce crisply fried bacon bits to the dough before allowing it to rise. The crisp bits studded in the finished bun add sudden bursts of salt and smoke that pop on your tongue as you chew the soft bread. But to really take the bacon to the extreme, I replaced the vegetable oil with the bacon fat that I had just rendered off of the bits.
Perfect. I think I may have invented the only Atkin's-friendly burger bun in the world—the thing tasted almost more meat than bread.
Bacon Attack! Buns
- makes 6-8 buns -
1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1/4-inch lardons 1 large egg 2 tablespoon active dry yeast 2/3 cup warm water 3 tablespoons sugar 3/4 teaspoon salt 2 cups all-purpose flour
1. Cook bacon in skillet over low heat, stirring frequently, until well-rendered and crisp. Transfer bacon bits to small bowl, reserving rendered fat separately (you should have about 1/4 cup of rendered bacon fat - if you have more, set aside all but 1/4 cup for another use. If you have less, add vegetable oil to make up the difference)
2. Separate egg, reserving white and yolk separately. In a bowl of standing mixer, combine yeast, water, sugar, egg yolk, salt, rendered bacon, and bacon fat. Whisk to combine. let stand for 5 minutes. Add flour and combine in standing mixer fitted with dough hook attachment. Dough should be soft and sticky (it won't pull away from sides of bowl). Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
3. Preheat oven to 425°F and set oven rack to upper-middle position. On well-floured work surface, divide dough into 6 to 8 even pieces (depending on if you want large or small buns) and shape each into a ball. Place on greased baking sheet about 2 inches apart and flatten slightly with palm of well-floured hand. Spary with non-stick spray, cover with plastic, and let rest 15 minutes until slightly risen. Meanwhile, whisk egg white until slightly frothy.
4. Bake for 4 minutes. remove from oven, brush with egg white, and return to oven until golden brown and well-risen, about 4-8 minutes longer. Set on wire rack to cool.