Although most contestants of GBBO are apprehensive about Bread Week, this is probably the week I was most excited to bake along to. Not that I’m a good bread baker—I just love eating bread!
This is my favourite bake of the season so far (I know, it’s only been three episodes). I’m sure my experience would be very different had I actually been on the show, with Paul Hollywood breathing down my neck, but I love making bread at home and burger buns seem to be such a simple, yet versatile challenge!
Fun fact: this is the first time I’ve heard of hamburger buns referred to as “floury baps.” Is this standard nomenclature throughout the UK? British residents, write in.
I did not attempt the vegie burger included in the recipe, since I had a couple of vegan okara patties sitting in the fridge from last week. Kevin the enemy of all beans came over on Friday, and no way was I serving him black bean burgers, so I also made a bunch of ground beef patties for him.
I was out of white bread flour, so I used whole wheat instead, sifting the bran out. I used Crisco for the shortening, dropping it in by spoonfuls until I got 30 g. I kneaded it in my stand mixer on the lowest speed for about 8 minutes. The dough came together very easily, no fuss, and I think this is the first bread dough I’ve made that’s come close to passing the windowpane test! I only used about 230 mL of water. Next time, I think I could add even less, maybe 220 mL.
I went out for a quick grocery run after leaving it to prove, and came back a bit late—maybe 1.5 hours—but the dough was looking pretty good, about doubled in size.
I split the dough in two, then cut each half roughly into quarters. On the show, I think most of the contestants weigh their pieces meticulously to achieve identical buns, but since no one’s here to judge me at home, I didn’t bother.
(It was hard to shape them into balls, because they had the opposite problem of most of my doughs: they weren’t sticky at all! I had been generous with the flour dusting, so when it came time to shape them by rolling them on the counter, there was no tension and they slid right off.)
Then I covered them with a hand towel and let them sit for about 15 minutes (should’ve been 10; I should really start paying more attention to the time).
They didn’t seem to rise much in the short time, but I went ahead and flattened them with a rolling pin as the recipe said. Now it was time for the second prove, which I did for about an hour.
I was a bit worried that maybe I’d flattened them out too much, but in the end there was no need for concern. They puffed back up during the second prove, and rose a good amount in the oven too, so it looks like you do have to flatten them quite a lot for them to have that nice burger shape.
You can really see the difference in oven power in the photo below on the left. I baked six buns on one baking tray, in the microwave convection oven, and the other two I baked in the toaster oven, all at the same temprature and time. The toaster oven buns were significantly darker than the ones baked in the microwave (although they all tasted great!
It ended up being a good thing that I cut back on the sugar in this recipe—I used about 20 g when the recipe called for 30 g, but even with just 2/3, the buns had a good amount of sweetness. But that sweetness turns out to be a pretty addition! Since buns are typically made to hold savoury stuff, I hadn’t thought of adding sugar, but now that I think back, most grocery store buns do seem to have a somewhat sweet taste.
I think I overproved the dough slightly, since Kevin said the bread was a bit dense. Possibly it was also because I sliced into the dough when they were still hot from the oven, and cutting bread before it’s fully cooled is a big no-no. The buns that I let cool before cutting open seemed to do a lot better.
Overall, this is probably my most successful Bake Along result yet. Next time I’ll keep a stricter watch on the time, and they’ll hopefully turn out even better. I can see myself returning to this recipe time and again as my new go-to burger recipe.
Tune in next week to see me tackle my next Bake Off challenge, “maids of honour.”