Sourdough Hamburger Buns

Soft and chewy with a kick of sourdough, these buns will be the star of any hamburger show. Their spongy nature allows them to soak up all the burger juice, yet their overall strong structure means they won’t fall apart mid-burger. Egg wash gives them a shiny, golden finish; feel free to customize to taste with seeds or seasonings. You won’t want to leave these buns out of your burger-making routine.

Prep
30 mins
Bake
20 to 25 mins
Total
8 hrs 55 mins
Yield
6 buns
Sourdough Hamburger Buns

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the sourdough starter, water, and yeast (if using).

  2. Weigh your flours; or measure them by scooping them into a cup and sweeping off any excess. Combine the flours, dry milk, salt, and sugar, then add to the mixer bowl with the starter and water.

  3. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and turn it to its lowest speed. Mix all the ingredients together for 2 to 3 minutes to make a sticky, cohesive dough. 

  4. Stop the mixer, scrape the bowl, and switch to the dough hook. Add the butter, then turn the mixer up a speed or two and continue to knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 to 12 minutes longer. Try the windowpane test: you should be able to stretch a piece of dough until you can see through it.

  5. Cover the dough and let it rest in a warm place (75°F to 80°F) for about 4 hours. To de-gas and even out the temperature of the dough, stretch and fold it in the bowl two or three times during the rest. You can be fairly flexible in your timing of these; one stretch and fold per hour is ideal.

  6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into six equal pieces; if you have a scale, each piece should weigh about 120g.

  7. Shape the dough pieces into tight balls and place them on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, or into the lightly greased wells of a hamburger bun pan. Press the balls gently to flatten them slightly; they should come close to filling the wells of the bun pan, if you're using it.

  8. Cover the buns and let them rise until puffy, about 4 hours in a warm place.

  9. Twenty minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 375°F.

  10. Uncover the buns and brush them with the beaten egg yolk/water mixture. Sprinkle with toppings, if desired.

  11. Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown and a digital thermometer inserted into the center of one bun reads at least 190°.

  12. Remove the buns from the oven and allow them to cool before serving.

  13. Store buns at room temperature for several days; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you don’t want to wait for your starter to be completely ripe (or if you’d like a little added leavening insurance), add the teaspoon of optional yeast to your dough. Note that the rising/proofing times will take less than half the amount of time with the additional yeast, likely about 90 minutes (with just one round of stretching and folding the dough) for the first rise, and about 90 minutes for the second.

  • You know your starter is ripe and ready to leaven bread when it doubles or triples in volume within 6 to 8 hours of being fed. If your starter has been refrigerated, you’ll need to give it a series of feedings at room temperature to get it to this state. Depending on the initial health of your starter, this may take just two or three feedings spaced every 12 hours, or up to five to seven days of feeding every 12 hours.

  • Looking at the total time it takes to make them, these buns clearly require some planning. You don’t have to bake them all in one day, though. You can prepare the dough through shaping, then let the shaped buns rest at room temperature, covered, for 1 to 2 hours before transferring them to the refrigerator overnight or for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, pull the buns out of the refrigerator and leave them at room temperature, still covered, for an hour or so. Preheat the oven, uncover the buns, brush on the egg wash, and bake. You may need to extend the bake time by a couple of minutes, but the added refrigeration will also lend the buns more robust sourdough flavor.