Hamburger buns, finally; again
My last journey into the recesses of my memories of pride and egotism brought out many a story of my declarations with respect to hamburger buns. “White bread is easy,” I declared to the world, but my heart having been shattered into a million pieces I return here to accomplish now what I could not then! That subsequent attempt resulting in a consecutive shattering of my heart, I return again undaunted in my quest for a good hamburger bun!
What I will say about my last attempt at hamburger buns via pain de mie was that the buns were both improperly proofed and slightly overbaked. The final product was both dense and tough. It is also possible that skinning over of the dough during the oven pre-heat cycle also hindered oven spring, contributing even more to the problem. That in mind, I've made a few changes to both my formula and my approach.
Here is my hypothesis: enriched white bread doesn't rely on fermentation for flavor, therefore focusing on flavor in the production of aforementioned enriched white bread is wasteful. Rather, these breads rely on the ingredients they contain, namely sugar, dairy, and other additions, so these ingredients should play first fiddle in the formula and the method of preparation. I have doubled the yeast in this particular incarnation of pain de mie to this end, no doubt I will need to refine this change over time.
In my previous attempt I was cold proofing the final shapes. I was hoping the sealed space of my oven was enough to facilitate the proofing of the buns. I believe I was wrong! So I'll throw in a boiling pot of water and see how that helps things along. Additionally, I baked the hamburger buns for 18 minutes at 400 F. This might have been excessive, considering the dough has much higher surface area compared to before, the dough will bake much faster. Perhaps, 400 F for 12 minutes, or 350 F for 20 minutes. Then again, I would imagine, a lower temperature would dry out the dough, so a fast, hot bake seems like the better option. I'll try 400 F for 10 minutes and see where that takes me. A secondary note to add to that is that a full bake doesn't mean the dough should be fully colored, as you could see in the last batch of hamburger buns. Ultimately what I am saying is, more yeast, warmer proof, and a shorter bake should give me better results compared to last time!
After an hour of bulk fermentation, division, rounding, and a rest, the shapes are flattened, maintaining the round shape.
This is about 30 minutes of final proofing in my oven with a steaming pot of water to provide heat. In the end, the dough was proofed about 45 minutes before they went into the oven.
A little less then 10 minutes in a 375 F oven, baked with steam, and double panned to prevent overbrowning on the bottoms.
And the final product, once out of the oven, brushed with heavy whipping cream and allowed to cool. Much better then last time, the first picture posted.
I admit, 3% yeast might have been overkill, and it was. But the results were quite attractive. Somewhere between 2% and 3% will get me where I want to be. Additionally the proof temperature definitely helped a lot, as did avoiding the skin from forming on the dough while it was exposed to the dry air outside the oven. This time, it took a mere 10 minutes to bake at a temperature of 375 F. I had to double pan the buns in order to prevent excessive browning on the bottoms, but it was well worth it. I declare this a success! I'll have to make burgers tomorrow.