No, not those kids enjoying a fast ride on the playground equipment.
Nor the guys (and gals) heading towards home plate with the relay from left field right behind them. (Or, to stay in the same ballpark, a particularly tricky breaking pitch.)
I’m talking sliders, as in White Castle, as in small burgers on mini buns that you can eat two or three of at a time without feeling a bit of guilt.
Well, maybe just the tiniest bit of guilt… but hey, how can something this small (and oh-so-cute) possibly have many calories, right?
Still, I’m not here to discuss calories today. I’m here to show you a relatively easy way to make tiny buns, using your favorite homemade roll recipe. Add 1 1/2-ounce hamburger patties, American cheese, a pickle slice, and steam-fried onions, and you have the classic slider.
Note: For a complete deconstruction of classic sliders, check out one of our favorite blogs, Serious Eats, whose regular Burger Lab feature is a delicious exploration of all things burger.
First, the buns.
Let’s go with the most popular recipe on our site, Beautiful Burger Buns.
Make the dough, and let it go through its first rise, the one in the bowl.
Gently deflate the dough, divide it in half, and shape each half into a rough disk.
Working with one piece of dough at a time, place it on a piece of lightly greased parchment or waxed paper. For easiest rolling, place another piece of greased parchment or waxed paper on top.
Pat and roll the dough to a 9″-diameter circle, about 3/8″ thick. Then use a 2″ round biscuit cutter to cut circles from the dough, cutting close together to leave as few scraps as possible.
Even if you do a really good job, you’ll end up with about 20% of the dough being scrap. You can let it relax for 15 minutes and roll and cut it again; or you can simply shape it however you like.
You should be able to get about 2 dozen good-looking cutout buns before you need to resort to shaping the scraps.
Space the buns fairly close together on a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. You don’t want them to rise and crowd one another; but baking buns close together helps them stay soft – and a slider bun should be soft.
Cover the buns, and let them rise for about 2 hours. They won’t get hugely puffy, and that’s OK; you don’t want tall dinner rolls, you want relatively squat slider buns.
Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Notice the buns have gotten a bit taller, but nowhere near what a dinner roll would look like.
Brush the buns with melted butter; this will give them a soft, golden crust.
Bake the buns for 9 or 10 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown.
Remove them from the oven; brush with additional butter, if desired.
See how these buns reached out and just barely touched one another as they baked? That’s the spacing I was after. If you have a standard half-sheet pan, and you cut 2″ round buns, 2 dozen on the pan is a perfect fit.
And here are the finished buns, ready for their burgers.
See the egg? It’s there for scale, so you can envision the buns’ size: about 2 1/2″.
Disclaimer: Before you true “apprecianados” of White Castle come down on me for an incorrectly shaped bun – you’re right. White Castle buns look like they start out round, but then are sliced straight on four sides to make them more or less square. Go that route if you want; to me, this smacks too heavily of needless playing with your food.
Next: the burgers.
Flatten 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of hamburger between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper until it’s about 1/2″ thick. Use a 2 3/4″ round biscuit cutter to cut patties; you want the burgers a bit larger than the buns, since they’ll shrink as they cook.
Fry the burgers (along with onions, if you’re a fan of fried onions).
To make sliders: place some fried onions on the bottom half of the bun. Add a burger, and a thin slice of American cheese. Top with a dill pickle slice or two. That’s it: no condiments.
Move over, White Castle!