The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

On a Roll

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Last year I took a baking class at King Arthur Flour and you may say what does baking have to do with grilling? Well how about fresh hamburger (or hot dog rolls)? One of the things I always liked about the Fuddrucker’s hamburger restaurant chain was their fresh baked rolls. They were so much tastier than the store bought variety. I always fantasized about how great it would be to make my own fresh baked rolls. After I got serious about this whole grilling thing, I realized if I could do that I could probably pull off the baking thing too. I am trying to keep my expectations small. Last year in the bread baking class we were asked why we took the class. I said: I am into grilling and smoking and had learned fresh is best, so I wanted to learn how to make my own hamburger rolls.

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New gear in the arsenal: Pans to make home made hamburger (left) and hot dog rolls (right).

Besides a basic bread, we learned how to do scones. Now I’ve made the scones a couple times since then, but had not made bread yet. At the suggestion of a friend, I used some birthday money to buy both a hamburger and a hotdog roll pan. It arrived this past week and I decided not to let any more time pass. I was going to make if for my cook this Saturday. However, that got cancelled in a combination of needing to work and really bad weather coming through in the form of Tropical Storm Hannah. I spent some time looking up hamburger roll recipes and watching some internet based videos on basic baking. I wasn’t sure wether I remembered all of the steps and the little tricks they had shown us. I figured I’d make the rolls next weekend, and would leave enough time to go buy some store bought ones if I crashed and burned.

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Many of the ingredients in baking are weighed. You place the container you plan to use on the digital scale and zero it out. Then you add ingredients that you need to weigh. Takes less time to do than describe

Sunday dawned and I was wide awake at 5AM. I was going to work, but I didn’t need to start at 5AM. So I decided go for it! Head out to the Kitchen and just do it. Step 1 was to gather all of the ingredients and tools. One thing that is quite different about baking is it is often quite precise, no pinch of this dash of that. The ingredients are often weighed and not measured by volume. An example of this is flour, which can vary greatly in weight depending how densely you pack the measuring cup. To insure accurately and repeatable results you weigh it. While the flour was called out as 3 1/2 cups of flour (0.8 L), it was also listed as 14 3/4 oz. (418 g) of flour. I had picked up a digital scale last year and baking will put it to good use. The nice thing about these scales is you put a bowl on it and hit a button and the scale zeros out and then you can add your ingredients.

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The wet ingredients go in first then the yeast is added a little at a time. Once mixed the dough is needed to get the right constancy.

The roll recipe (link shown below) was fairly straightforward: Flour, yeast, warm water, butter, an egg, sugar & salt. The wet ingredients were mixed first, then the dry with the flour being added a little at a time. The dough has to achieve a particular texture and this is where I need a little more experience. The recipe said 6 to 8 ounces (170 to 227 g) of water. The lower number was for the summer where it is warm and humid and the higher for the dry winter months. I chose 6 ounces (170 g), which was probably a mistake since my house has central air and would tend to have normal humidity. As I was adding in the last bit of flour the mix seemed a little dry to my inexperienced hands. I almost didn’t add the last bit if flour and in hindsight this would have been a good choice. I should have increased the water, but I also could have reduced the flour.

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The ball of dough is placed in a covered pan for about an hour until it doubles its volume.

The bread is kneaded next and for a lot of people handling the bread dough is almost therapeutic. Kneading is another area where experience helps. I think I should have kneaded the bread a little longer too. After you knead the dough, it is put in a covered bowl where you give it about an hour to rise to double its volume. The dough is then removed and you gently press out some of the air. The dough was rolled out into a log shape which allowed you to cut it into 8 equal pieces. These pieces were put into the hamburger roll pan. As it turned out the log I made and sliced was just about exactly the size of the cups in the pan so little additional work was required. The final step was to brush the top of the rolls with and egg wash: a mixture of egg and water. This helped serve as a binder for the sesame seeds I sprinkled on top.

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The risen dough is deflated a bit and then rolled into a log and cut into 8 equal width slices.

It was off to the 375 degree (190 C) oven for 12-15 minutes. This is where I made my last mistake. The rolls were definitely not done at 12 minutes. I planned on checking them again every minute, but got distracted and didn’t get back to the oven until the 15 minute mark. At this point the rolls were slightly darker than the color I was shooting for. They weren’t burned or anything, but next time I will do them for 14 minutes. It was off to a wire rack to cool. I noticed that they were a little stiffer than a store bought roll.

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The rolls are done after 15 minutes in a 375 (190 C) degree oven an are set out to cool.

So to cut to the chase: What is the verdict? Well despite making 3 mistakes-two minor (slightly more kneading, slightly less cooking time) and one mid-sized (not enough water); these were better than any hamburger roll I’ve bought at a supermarket. This has me quite encouraged. I know what I did wrong and it is easily fixed, the process is quick and easy and the results are well worth it. So if you are a bread lover like me and want to spice up your burgers: roll your own.


T Caption .



  CATCH UP - 2007 Blog Entry about Baking Class
  BEAUTIFUL BURGER BUNS - Hamburger Roll Recipe Link


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