Make that a cheeseburger, since I like mine with a little extra-sharp cheddar… some lettuce, tomato, mustard and a little raw vidalia onion. The bun: toasted (over the coals, but of course).
It’s unfortunate that when most people set out to improve their hamburger experience, the first thing they do is plop their patty onto a baguette or some other artisan (i.e. crusty) product. The intentions are good, but it’s a terrible context for upscale bread. A burger on a baguette, let’s face it, is almost impossible to bite into. No, the texture of the bun needs to complement the texture of what’s inside it. A nice uncomplicated straight-dough bun is just the ticket.
These buns I made using Peter Reinhart’s pain à l’ancienne bread recipe, only without the ice cubes and overnight rising. Which is to say, I basically gutted his technique, arriving at nothing more than a wetter version of a basic bread dough. The only trick I suggest is that you paint yours gently with egg wash about five minutes into the baking (that way you don’t risk collapsing the dough just before you put it into the oven). Is there a difference between these and store-bought? You bet. Compare homemade to conventional store-bought buns. The crust:
And the crumb.
A big difference, even for the lowly Straight Dough Method. I tend to like my hamburger buns on the skinny side with lots of crust and little crumb (your basic meat holder). I roll two ounces of dough out to a diameter of about four inches, which gives me buns about an inch thick. But you may prefer yours thicker, a three-and-a-half-inch diameter will give you a taller result that’s better at soaking up meat juices.