Whether you’re making po’boys, tortas, or hamburgers, having a good bun can make or break a sandwich. Personally I can’t think of a better bun than one made from brioche dough. Not only does the bread have a wonderful buttery aroma, it has a consistent crumb that is neither too dense nor too airy, making it the perfect foil to wrap your chosen filling.
Thanks to a generous dose of honey this bun has a passing sweetness that balances out a salty filling, in a show of culinary synergy that makes the resulting sandwich something special.
I like using whole-wheat flour in my breads because it not only increases the nutrient density; it adds a wonderful earthy flavor. The problem is, using whole-wheat flour can result in a loaf that’s dense, dry or vaguely bitter. That’s because it’s ground with the bran that’s on the outside of each kernel of wheat, which tends to block the formation of gluten.
The best way I’ve found to get around this problem is to soak the flour in a liquid for a bit before adding any other type of flour. This allows the bran to soften a little and mellows its bitterness. To counteract the problems associated with a weaker gluten web, I like to blend the whole-wheat flour with bread flour to boost the overall gluten content of the dough.
- 1/2 cup whole milk, warmed
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (7 grams) dry active yeast
- 1 cup (150 grams) whole-wheat flour
- 2 eggs room temperature, separated
- 6 tablespoons (85 grams) butter, melted but not hot
- 1 1/4 cups (190 grams) bread flour
- Add the warmed milk, and honey into the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to combine. Sprinkle the yeast onto the mixture and let the yeast rehydrate for a few minutes.
- Mix in the whole-wheat flour and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. This gets the yeast going and allows the bran in the whole wheat to rehydrate.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and butter together until smooth, and then add the whites and continue whisking until incorporated. Yolks are an emulsifier and mixing them in first helps the butter incorporate more evenly with the whites.
- Add the butter mixture and bread flour to the mixer bowl and stir everything together with a wooden spoon.
- Fit your mixer with the dough hook and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes). You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it's doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and then split the dough into 4, 6, or 12 evenly sized pieces. Dividing into 4 will get you 4 extra-large buns, dividing into 6 will get you 6 regular sized buns, 12 pieces will get you slider buns. If the dough was kneaded long enough you should not need to use any flour when handling the dough.
- Hold a piece of dough in both hands with your thumbs resting on top and your eight other fingers coming together at the bottom. Use your thumbs to stretch the dough over your fingers and tuck the stretched dough under and inside the bun. Repeat this a few times until you have a nice smooth dome on top.
- Gently place each bun on a parchment lined baking sheet leaving enough space between each one for them to double in size. Loosely cover the buns with an oiled sheet of plastic wrap and put the pan in a warm place, allowing the buns to rise until doubled in size.
- Set the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F.
- Sprinkle each bun with black sesame seeds and bake in the oven until the buns are golden brown (about 30 minutes).
- Remove from the oven and place the buns on a cooling rack to cool. Once cooled you can store them in a paper bag for up to a day, or a plastic bag if you need to keep them for longer.
This recipe was originally posted on PBS Food.