The Fresh Loaf

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help needed for soft Kosher hamburger buns

kefirchick's picture

help needed for soft Kosher hamburger buns

Unlike chewy crusty flavorful sour dough breads eaten for their  taste and texture, a good hamburger bun needs to be soft, mild and even a bit fluffy in order to function as the perfect platform for a hunk of char grilled meat.  Most hamburger buns are made with milk and butter to achieve the correct texture.  However, for those of us who keep kosher, we can't mix meat and milk products.  Does anyone have a recipe and/or technique for making a good soft kosher hamburger bun?  (Most kosher store bought hamburger buns are small,hard, dry cardboardy things that taste of too much potato flour.)

I have tried a variety of tricks including water roux, non-dairy milks , parve margerine, potato flakes etc, and keep ending up with flat hard bisquit like rolls instead of puffy bread. Embarrasingly, my best results were when I increased the yeast, and added vital wheat gluten, barley malt, and liquid soy lecithin.  They puffed up, and looked like decent buns, but the tops were still a little too hard.  I ended up cramming them into a plastic bag for 48 hours, and that softened them up a bit, but I feel like a traitor for having to use all of the dough conditioners, and breaking all of the bread baking rules I have learned on this forum.

This is the final recipe I used, which is a modification of a King Arthur  Seeded Hamburger Bun recipe I found on their web site.


2 ¾ C KA Bread Flour (fluff and loosen before measuring)

2 TBS sugar

2 Tsp kosher salt


½ Tsp vital wheat gluten

½ Tsp barley malt

¾ C lukewarm water (100 degrees F)

1 large egg

2 TBS canola oil

1 TBS liquid soy lecithin

  1.  Mix dry ingredients in large bowl (flour, sugar salt vwg, barley malt)
  2. Add wet ingredients: egg, oil, H20, lecithin
  3. Knead by hand to form soft dough
  4. Allow to rise in warm place, covered til it doubles, or place in fridge until you are ready for it (I did fridge overnight).  Remove from fridge, and allow to warm to room temp.
  5. Gently degass, and divide into 6-8 pieces.  Place in ramikins or other ceramic dish of the size needed . Paint w egg  and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover with saran and towel and place in warm area
  6. Allow to double.
  7. Bake 15 mintues at 375. Check browning and re-arrange and tent if necessary.   Finish baking another 5minutes. Temp of dough should be 180-200 degrees F.

Any advice or proven kosher recipes are welcome. Thanks in advance for your help.

cranbo's picture

Assuming you're trying to get a more fluffy, tender product, a few things to try:

  • Use veg shortening instead of oil
  • Increase the quantity of fat/oil
  • Increase the quantity of sweetener
  • Use AP flour instead of high gluten
  • Bump up water slightly
  • Lower bake temp (350F for 25-35 minutes)


Knead by hand to form soft dough

How soft is it? How smooth? I can tell you to get a really nice fluffy light texture you'll need an intensive mix in a mixer at medium speed for 10+ minutes. By hand this could take 10-15 min if you're skilled at kneading by hand, and if you're not skilled, easily 20 min. 

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

have you tried coconut milk?  Works like a charm.  Just substitute for milk in a regular recipe.  No need for other fats or butter.

..oh and stop using bread flour, try AP for a softer crumb.

kefirchick's picture

Many thanks to everyone for your responses!!!

Vegetable shortening:  I never have used Crisco because back in the day, I equated it with lard.  I didn't even realize they now made it in vegetable form!  I presume it has a kosher hecksur?  I am adding it to my grocery list, and will try it with my next batch of buns. Will report on it in the next few days.

AP flour:  I initially tried the AP flour as called for in the original recipe, and it seemed to produce some of my worst efforts-flat and bisquity, so I changed to bread flour and got better results, albeit still too flat.

More water:  I have a batch of dough on counter in the midst of some stretch and folds.  I added 1 TBS more water, and it made it surprisingly more sticky.  Will be interesting to see how it turns out. Report to follow.

Machine mixer:  I realize that I would get better results with a mixer, but when I kashered my kitchen two years ago, I had to get rid of my 30 year old mixer, and never have gotten around to replacing it.  I really like making bread by hand-luddite that I am.  When I am kneading, stretching, folding etc, I like to envision Sarah doing the same in her tent.  Fortunately, I have air conditioning!!!

Coconut milk:  Interesting thought.  Do you use the 45 calorie stuff or the sweetened variety?  I have used it for soups, but didn't think to try this for baking.  Sounds like another recipe variation for me to try.

Egg wash:  I will delay my egg wash til after the second rise for this next batch as you suggested.  I have always liked the way my challas turn out, and just automatically did it the same way.  In fact, I usually do two egg washes with my challas-one before the last rise, and one just before they go into the oven.   The reason I am not using my challah dough for burgers is because it is very rich due to the eggs, and I wanted something milder.  I do like your idea about making multiple buns touching one another like cinnamon buns.  I did that for hot dog buns, and it worked very well.  I just happened to have some individual ramikins the right size, and used them for uniformity.  Don't know why that didn't occur to me.  That is why this forum is so great.  It helps us novices see the trees in the forest!  I will certainly try that technique for buns.  I can even do that in my cast iron dutch oven, which I almost always use for my sour dough bread.  I can spritz the surface with water just before it goes into the oven, and that should keep it moist enough to get a good rise too.

kefirchick's picture

So, taking a little advice from everyone, here are the results:

I substituted shortening for canola, coconut milk for cows milk, and increased the water by 1 TBS.  The rolls were fluffier, and looked ok, but I really didn't like the taste-not as bisquit-y as before, but too intense and oily-hard to explain, but still not the fluffy mild bun I wanted (Picture 1)

So I decided to ditch the KA recipe and switched to a modified Amish white sandwich bread recipe from I decreased the sugar, and increased the yeast.   I tried baking in several different containers-a spring pan, a 2 cup glass pyrex container, a small pie pan, and a rectangular pan. 

Success!  I am pleased with the taste and crumb, but now am having problems figuring out how to get a product that looks like a hamburger bun!  The spring pan gave the best convex surface, but the buns were weird shaped-round on one edge with a triangular shape. (scaled to 120 g each)  So they were the right size and weight, but the wrong shape. (Picture 2) (Picture 3 is crumb)None of the others had a nice convex surface, and the square ones (90G) were too flat.

So my question now is how I get nice round buns.  Perhaps I am just not filling the baking containers correctly.  Are there some guidelines?  Do I fill them half way?  2/3 full?  Am I underfilling them?  My goal is to have a diameter of 4 1/2 to 5 inches and a thickenss of 1 1/2 inches.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

with plenty of room so they don't touch each other, then they will be nice and round.  These are slashed with a scissors after topping with raw sesame seeds.  Cuts do not touch at the top center, gives a flatter expansion that way.

kefirchick's picture

Thank you Mini Oven!  I had tried a cookie sheet on my prior recipe, but it didn't work.  My buns ended up flat and bisquit like.  I was still afraid the buns would be too flat, so I added 3/4 tsp vital wheat gluten to the new recipe, and took your advice to try the cookie sheet.  Voila!  It worked!  I actually used a muffin top pan, but probably didn't need it.  The dough had enough strength with the added VWG to not collapse, so a cookie sheet would have been fine.  THis forum is wonderful!  I had been struggling with this for months! Thanks to everyone.   Recipe to follow.  Shana Tova! 

Amish White Bread for Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns-Modified by me from




Prep Time: 20 Minutes

Ready In: 2 Hours 30 Minutes


Cook Time: 30-35 Minutes


"This recipe will give you two loaves of plain white bread or 6-8 hamburger or hot dog buns that are quick and easy to make."


1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45

degrees C)

2 TBS white sugar

1  TBS active dry yeast

2 TBS olive oil

3 C bread flour sifted

2  TSP salt

¾ TSP Vital wheat gluten

 ¾ TSP barley malt flour




a.  Sift flour, and add salt and barley malt flour and vital wheat gluten.  Dry wisk to distribute ingredients uniformly.


b.  In a large bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm water, and then stir in yeast. Allow to proof until yeast resembles a creamy foam. I set the bowl in a pan of warm water to keep the yeast warm and happy.


Add oil to the yeast. Mix in dry ingredients one cup at a time, reserving a little to work into the dough during kneading and shaping. Briefly knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Place in a well oiled bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth, and place in warm place. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.  Do not overproof.


Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes, and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two well oiled 9x5 inch loaf pans. OR, for hamburger buns, shape and scale into 6 round balls weighing about 120g each.  Allow balls to rest on counter 5 minutes.  Place onto greased muffin top pan or cookie sheet.  Allow to rise for 30 minutes. Score loaf down middle vertically.  Buns do not need to be scored. Again, do not overproof. 


Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes.  Done when temp reaches 180-200 degrees F. Immediately depan and allow to cool on wire racks. Shake a bit of flour on top of buns when done to make them pretty.


NOTE:  *For buns, I scaled them at about 120 grams for 8 5 inch buns, or 92 grams for 6  4 inch buns.

kefirchick's picture


Graid's picture

I have also been looking for a dairy free, animal-product free recipe for burger buns.  I similarly have been having the problem they turn out too dense and hard. I have had some success in the past using mashed potato flakes, however, all I have now is potato flour and for some reason that just adds more density and heaviness without adding the softness of the mashed potato flakes. Unfortunately I did not have any barley malt extract so I couldn't do the above recipe. 

It also seems to me that the recipe above has a rather low ratio of liquids to flour- anything less than half the amount of liquid vs flour for me has tended to make for an excessively dry, dense bread. Do you find the bread is quite dense? 

I tried last night to make rolls using the following recipe, which I basically made up on the advice given in this thread.

200ml full fat coconut milk

about 4 tablespoons of water

400g doves organic white flour

2 teaspoons sugar

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon yeast

3/4 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon potato flour

I kneaded this using the bread maker. The dough this made was one of those rare doughs which just handles perfectly. Elastic and soft. The only other dough I've ever held that was quite this perfect was egg dough for challah.

After bread maker treatment, I let them rise for 40 minutes.

Baked at 180C for 35 minutes with an alluminum tin put over the top after 10 minutes.

Success, texture wise!  These were by far the softest rolls I have made. I wouldn't say they were completely fluffy but they're certainly more than soft enough to use as burger buns. They puffed up nicely and they have no real crust.

Failure, taste wise! Unlike my successful use of coconut milk to soften naan bread, I found that the rolls tasted somewhat of coconut milk, and not in a nice way. In combination with a slightly damp sort of taste from the potato flour, it made these rolls taste very cheap, somehow. 

Must try again with something else other than coconut milk, and maybe I just need to give up on my potato flour as well. And obtain some barley malt so I can do the above recipe (though I would probably change the flour/water ratio).

kefirchick's picture

The big differences I see are that I used a Tablespoon of yeast, 3/4 TSP of VWgluten, and water instead of coconut milk, which I think gives the bread a weird taste/texture-damp is a good description! I also had no luck with  potato flakes-I would have tried potato flour, but I can't find any potato flour until Passover. It may work for people looking to cut down on gluten, but I agree-the taste suffers.  I also think VWG can also give an off taste if you use too much-maybe that is what you were tasting???

  As far as ratios of flour to fluid, I had a little flour left over(?? maybe 1/8 C?? maybe less)  because I held some back to work in as I knead.  If I don't need it, I don't use it.  That changes my ratio for sure.    I go by feel of the dough.  If it feels too slack, I may use all the flour.  It just depends. This dough felt great.  Elasticy, alive, and a little tacky, but very easy to work.  Nice drag on the counter as I shaped the balls.  I am so used to slacker sour doughs that this one was a pleasure to knead.

  This recipe is pretty simple-flour, water, salt, yeast, and a little olive oil.   I purposefully added way more yeast than called for to make sure I had plenty of rise. It did not taste yeasty. I think the vital wheat gluten, and not the barley malt flour is what did the trick.  The wheat gluten is needed to help the buns hold their shape on the cookie sheet. I think the barley malt helps best with a recipes using longer rise times, or retards in the fridg, and probably is not necessary for this quick recipe.  I may even leave it out next time to see what happens.

If you still want it, you can get it from amazon, but I think you have  to order 4 packages-way more than you will ever need even if you bake daily for a year!!  I would try it without-or sometimes you can find some sprouted wheat flour at health food stores, which may do the same thing.

Also, I baked it for 20-25 minutes, not 30-35 as written at the top of the recipe.

Good luck.  Post some pictures!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Coconut milk can vary with the brand and origin (Aha!) and should be evaluated each time it is used.  Taste it (it doesn't keep long open)  pour it -- if thick, consider using half water to thin it out otherwise is can be like heavy cream and deprive the dough of water.   Full fat coconut milk and olive oil?   Use water and oil or just coconut milk, too much fat in recipe and in my experience, these two can get weird together.   Potato flour <-> vital wheat gluten, eliminate both or make a water roux with the starch.  What is the reason for VWG (pure glue) in the recipe?  I think the organic wheat flour can stand on it's own.  (Or is there something I should know about this flour?)  What I think this recipe needs is a teaspoon active malt flour to bring out the wheat flavours more.   

That is just my two cents.

Graid's picture

You're right, I suppose the coconut milk and olive oil was a very bad idea. Vital wheat gluten- well, while it is true my flour actually does 'stand up' by itself and is strong, I was trying various tricks to see if they would soften it, because I've found there is a tendency for my rolls to come out too dense to work as burger buns. Apparently vital wheat gluten would be pointless as a softener for making doughs more 'fluffy'? I was under the impression that potato flour was a good softener, and I have found that potato flakes have softened bread I've made in the past. I should probably try without either. I do not currently have any of the active malt flour stuff however.


joyfulbaker's picture

The medium enriched dough (Vienna dough) featured in Inside the Jewish Bakery makes wonderful onion rolls.  Here's my posting on that recipe: but you can find others if you search on the TFL website for "ITJB onion rolls."   They were made as part of the ITJB challenge this past January (already 8 months past!).  The recipe (p. 110 of the book) is a pleasure to work with, is similar to challah but less enriched, and makes great onion pockets and onion rolls, also Kaiser rolls if you use the light version of this versatile dough (actually a Vienna bread dough).  No ersatz milk to add, no "additives" needed, just a silky, easy dough to work with.  BTW, I also keep kosher.