Ah, soft, tender, golden, soft (did I mention soft?) white rolls: a hidden vice for so many of us.

Back in the day, when Wonder Bread was helping build our strong bodies 12 ways, bread was judged by its softness. Your mother made your PB & J  on homemade bread? BLECHH.  Pepperidge Farm? So... adult. The bread of choice for kids was A) Wonder, or B) Sunbeam (batter-whipped; Little Miss Sunbeam. Remember?)

After all, it took a special kind of bread to be able to peel off its crust in one thin strip, then wad the remainder into a marble-like missile, suitable for shooting across the lunchroom table at your little brother. Oh, wait, I forgot. Your little brother was TO BE IGNORED. You were firing bread balls instead at the jerky boy who creamed you with a snowball at the bus stop that morning.

Retaliation: That's what Wonder Bread was good for.

Still, there are those who love Wonder Bread for its sandwich-making qualities. Like my husband.

"Will you buy me some Wonder Bread next time you go shopping?" asks Rick.

With memories flooding my mind of the great bread I make every day here at King Arthur Flour, I always have the same answer.

No.

I've tried to mimic Wonder Bread for Rick; really, I have. But there's something about that air-pumped texture (Ms. Sunbeams's batter whipping?) that I just can't duplicate. My pain de mie cuts in beautifully thin slices; but I've yet to make a bread that squashes as nicely as Wonder—for a flattened PB & J, ammunition, or anything else.

Still, when it comes to soft white bread, I'm no slouch. Witness these Cheese Burger Buns: perfect, golden, butter-gilded orbs of comfort bread, firm enough to hold your burger and fixin's, yet soft enough for an easy chew.

Save the chewy/crusty hard rolls for subs; my backyard burgers demand pillow-soft buns.

And I don't mean Wonder. (Sorry, Rick. Again.)

Is your family Wondering what kind of buns you'll bless them with at tonight's barbecue? Try these:

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Now, you don't HAVE to use cheese powder in these buns. But it adds wonderful flavor and, compared to fresh cheese, leaves buns with a beautiful, smooth, evenly colored finish. I like the Vermont cheese powder we sell; feel free to use Cabot's Cheddar Powder, if it's available where you shop.

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Since I used these buns for Sloppy Joes in the bread machine last week, I felt I'd best make the dough for them in the bread machine, too. In it all goes: egg, water, butter, sugar, salt, yeast, onion powder, King Arthur flour, and cheese powder.

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About 25 minutes later, beautifully kneaded dough. Love that Zo!

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Just over an hour later, still beautiful—and very buxom!

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You're going to make eight buns from this dough. Your first step it to take it out of the machine, and round it into a ball.

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Another reason I love the bread machine: here's your cleanup job once the dough is kneaded. A quick rinse in warm water and you're good to go for next time.

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If you're bent on making buns that are exactly the same size, you'll need to weigh the dough. Here it is on our Salter scale: 773g. I usually use American weights when measuring, but for purposes of division, these whole-number grams are much easier to deal with than fractions.

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Divide the dough in half: half of 773 is 386. 386 1/2, to be precise. 384 is close enough.

Continue to divide each half in half till you have eight pieces of dough.

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Round them into balls on a lightly greased work mat. You don't have to use a mat; but again, cleanup is easy when you do.

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Space the balls on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.

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Flatten them to about 3" diameter, using the palm of your hand.

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They'll look like this. Cover, and let rise till very puffy.

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Ah, buxom once again!

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Brush with melted butter.

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Bake the risen rolls till they're golden brown...

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...like this. Then brush with butter again. See the brown flecks on these?  This is a version I made with grated Parmesan. As I remarked earlier, feel free to use freshly grated cheese, so long as you don't mind the freckled look.

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Nice, golden interior.

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Soft buns, ready for burgers, sandwiches, or Zo Sloppy Joes.

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Do you feel a sudden urge to light your barbecue grill? I do!

Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Cheese Burger Buns.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Wonder Bread Plain Hamburger Buns, $2.89/8 buns

INGREDIENTS:  Enriched Wheat Flour, Water, Yeast, High Fructose Corn Syrup or Sugar, Soybean Oil, Contains 2% or Less of: Wheat Gluten, Salt, Calcium Sulfate, Vinegar, Vitamin D, Cornstarch, Wheat Starch, Dough Conditioners (Datem, Sorbic Acid, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Ethoxylated Mono and Diglycerides, Calcium Dioxide, and/or Mono and Diglycerides), Yeast Nutrients (Calcium Carbonate, Ammonium Chloride, Ammonium Sulfate, and/or Monocalcium Phosphate), Soy Flour, Enzymes, Calcium Propionate (to Retain Freshness), Whey, Soy Lecithin. If Topped, Also Contains Sesame Seeds or Cornmeal.

Bake at home: Cheese Burger Buns, $3.11/8 buns

INGREDIENTS:  King Arthur Flour, Water, Yeast, Butter, Egg, Sugar, Salt, Cheese Powder (Vermont Cheddar Cheese [Cheddar Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes)], Whey, Dry Buttermilk, Salt, Disodium Phosphate].

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PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!