Let me amend that. I often have a hamburger for supper. A nicely browned or grilled patty, lying beside a healthy stir-fry of gingered green beans, maybe a salad, perhaps some grilled zucchini. No bun; just protein. I’m trying to keep my carb count low. And working all day here in the King Arthur Flour test kitchen, forcing myself to sample fudge brownies, and buttercream-iced cupcakes, to say nothing of cheese-stuffed focaccia… well, you can just imagine. Kermit says it’s not easy being green; for us test bakers, it’s not easy being lean.
But my son, recently returned from 5 months in Africa and a steady diet of rice and fufu (pounded yams), asked for a special supper: hamburger, smoked provolone and cheddar, Italian seasoning, lettuce, and tomato on a bun. But not just any bun; one of those soft, squishy, supermarket packaged air-buns. The Prodigal Son effect pushed aside my better judgment, and I went to the store and bought a bag of buns.
And they were just as I’d remembered. Hey, I’m not dissing squishy white rolls; I actually like them. But I really do prefer homemade. Supermarket buns are just too flimsy. Unlike my homemade buns, they’re unable to stand up to a full load of thick burger and layers of cheese, pickles, lettuce, tomato, AND condiments. Especially the condiments. One good dollop of green relish, and these insipid buns are history, soggy and ready to shred at your first bite.
But not homemade buns. They not only have body, the ability to stand up to everything you can throw at/on them—they have soul. Because what’s better than a burger bun that you’ve shaped by hand, flavored to taste, and pulled fresh out of your own oven—at maybe 1/3 the cost of a purchased bun? Add a hungry family (or one son newly home from Africa), and you’ve experienced, once again, the reason so many of us bake: to make people happy, one bite—one bun—at a time.
These Onion Buns are perfect for burgers—just in time for grilling season.
After kneading (about 7 minutes at second speed in a stand mixer), the dough will be smooth and soft, and just a bit tacky. For purposes of these photos, I always knead in a stand mixer; but if I’m not photographing, I knead in a bread machine. It’s easier (I can walk away and forget about it), and does a super job.
Once it’s rolled into a 12” x 17” rectangle, sprinkle the dough with minced dried onion, and use a rolling pin to press the onion into the dough. Can you use fresh or sautéed onion rather than dried? Yes; but the buns will probably unravel, due to the moisture in the onion.
Next we’re going to cut the log into 1 1/2” slices. I find a pair of scissors the easiest tool for this task. Use a knife, dental floss, monofilament fishing line, or whatever cutting implement you prefer.
Read our complete recipe for Onion Buns.
Buy vs. Bake
Buy: Supermarket onion rolls, 23¢/ounce.
Bake at home: Onion Buns, 7¢/ounce.