If you love a burger wrapped in a soft, pillowy brioche-style bun, here you can finally learn how to make this kind of bread at home and, at the same time, you’ll get some proper insights on the reasons why each ingredient plays a key role in this simple recipe!
I’ve tried endless combinations for this kind of bread during the years both made from scratch and inspired by other recipes (some pretty tasty though!) and, eventually, I found exactly what I was looking for!
But it’s not just a matter of taste: having a great combination of consistency, fluffiness, flavour, look, and taste is actually the key to the best homemade burger bun. Don’t underestimate how powerful it can be having the right bread with your burger: I had several disappointing burger’s experiences in which the patty and the toppings were delicious but the bread was awful; I’m afraid but this for me is a no-no. There are patties (both veggie or not) and toppings that would pair well with different kinds of bread because you don’t necessarily have to choose a brioche-style bun but if you are going to pick that road, then you have to do a bit of research.
Have you ever wondered how exactly can one extra egg or a few tablespoons of olive oil affect quite a lot your baked goods? Or why you should check the protein content of the flour? It’s all a matter of food chemistry!
Some of the chemistry behind this recipe:
- FATS: for this recipe, I have used a combination of butter, olive oil, and full-fat yogurt. Due to their inner different nature, they all play a specific role in contributing to the consistency and flavour of the final result. Since they affect the formation of the network of protein related to gluten (but they don’t contribute to it, apart from that small water content found in butter), identifying the right ratio between fats and flour is essential.
- BUTTER AND OLIVE OIL: while olive oil is primarily made of lipids (triacylglycerols, approx. 99%), butter is mainly made of butterfat but it also has a percentage of water and a small part of milk protein (in the EU the fat content is between 80 and 90%, the maximum water content is 16% and there is no more than 2% of non-fat milk solids). The characteristic composition of butter and olive oil give them different physical properties (think about how butter looks like at room temperature and compare it with olive oil) and this will influence their effect on the baked goods. It’s also important to note that the protein in butter brown while the bread bakes, contributing to the final nutty flavour, and the olive oil gives a unique flavour to the final result. A good balance between butter, olive oil and yogurt (another source of fats and protein) gives you a bread with a great combination of softness and density.
- EGGS: they enrich the bread with fats, protein, and water. These 3 components contribute to softness, structure, and gluten formation. Using just 1 egg in this recipe, you’ll get a bun that is less dense and more crumbly but, upgrading this amount to 2, you’ll get a softer and denser bread that holds perfectly its structure while you eat your burger (this result is not completely related to the extra egg, because it’s more due to a combination of factors but I could notice a difference just with this change).
- SUGAR: there’s just a small amount of it in this recipe but it makes the difference. Sugar plays different roles in this preparation: 1) it helps with the process of rising and with the fermentation (sugar is a source of readily available food for the yeast); 2) it contributes to the colour, the flavour and the softness of bread. I prefer using dark muscovado sugar that has a different composition from white sugar and it’s more aromatic (white sugar is crystallised sucrose – brown sugar is mainly made of crystallised sucrose but it also has glucose, fructose and trace minerals).
- GLUTEN: when the flour is mixed with a liquid, the gluten molecules (protein) become active: this means that they will tend to bond with each other and create a specific elastic structure made of protein in which the air bubbles will be trapped. Pair this effect with the leavening process and the other ingredients, and you’ll get the “fluffy factor” of your bread. Gluten obviously is helpful but you can make fluffy bread with gluten-free flours, too (it just takes a bit more of work to get the recipe right). It’s useful to keep in mind that both fats and eggs affect the formation of this network of protein. By using both butter and olive oil, I managed to get that cake-like effect typical of brioche bread without changing the initial amount of butter and sugar: this is related to how the oil interacts with the flour.
- FLOUR: not all flours are created equally; for making bread, I prefer using what is called “bread flour” that has a slightly higher protein content compared to the classic all-purpose flour. I bake with whole grain flour most of the time and you could absolutely make brown burger buns but the quantities listed below work perfectly with white bread flour (go for an unbleached option) to get fluffy brioche-style buns.
- MAILLARD REACTION: the protein from both eggs and flour, in the presence of heat, undergo a process called Maillard reaction that results in the browining of food and in the formation of new flavours (it’s the same reaction that takes place when, for example, you cook a piece of meat).
Would you like to see a recipe for gluten-free or vegan burger buns on this blog? Let me know in the comment below and I’ll be happy to work on it!
Homemade soft brioche burger buns
INGREDIENTS (makes 6 buns)
- 300 g white bread flour*
- 30 g butter (melted)
- 2 eggs (approx. 100 g)**
- 70 g plain full-fat yogurt***
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 50-65 ml water
- 5 g dark muscovado sugar (you can increase this amount to 10-15 g if you prefer)
- 4 g quick dry yeast (instant)
- a pinch of salt
*To give you an idea, if I compare white all-purpose flour and bread flour from the same brand, they have 10 g and 12.6 g of protein respectively (they also have a different amount of carbohydrates, that’s higher for the all-purpose flour).
**I separate from this amount approx. 2 tsp of yolk and keep them in the fridge for the final egg wash.
***If you have just low-fat yogurt available, make these changes to the recipe: use 100 g of yogurt, only approx. 15 ml of water and 1 extra tbsp of olive oil.
- You’ll need 2 separate bowls: one for the liquid ingredients and one for the dry ones. Place in a large bowl all the dry ingredients and mix well. In a smaller bowl, add the eggs (now it’s the right time to save those few teaspoons for later – you can skip this step if you prefer using another egg for the final egg wash but keep in mind that you’ll only need a small amount of it, so be sure those ingredients don’t end up being wasted), the yogurt, 3/4 of the total amount of water, and the melted butter (slightly warm): use a whisk to mix well all these ingredients together.
- Add the liquids into the bowl with the dry ingredients and start mixing the dough with a spoon at the begin and with your hands later on: check the dough step by step and start adding 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the remaining amount of water in small portions (you may require a slightly different amount of water, depending on your flour and kneading experience).
- Knead the mixture for approx. 5 minutes until you get a soft and smooth dough: allow it to rise in a bowl (with a bit of olive oil) covered with a clean kitchen towel or a reusable wrap. This step will take approx. 1-1.5 hours, depending on the temperature of the room.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, divide it into 6 equal pieces. You can make 6 buns of 93 g each – these are standard-sized buns but you can decide to make them bigger or smaller, according to your preferences. Roll each piece of dough with your hands to get a perfectly round ball (ensuring the bottom of your buns is done properly will help you in getting better shaped buns). Place them on a baking sheet lined with a reusable mat or parchment paper and ensure there’s enough room between each bun.
- Cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel, then let them rise for approx. 45 minutes, until doubled in size. Gently brush them with the egg wash (approx. 2 tsp egg yolk + 2 tsp of milk) and bake in a preheated oven at 180°C for approx. 15-18 minutes.
- These burger buns will keep well for up to 3 days but you could also freeze them.
Looking for ideas for your burgers? Check the graphics below or try my recipe for some tasty tuna burgers!
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