Soft and pillowy burger buns with springy and moist crumb. This potato brioche bun with tangzhong makes for a perfect burger bun! Addition of milk roux (tangzhong) and extra starch coming from potato and potato water create beautiful springy texture with perfect bounce-back-ability. The bun is airy, moist with well formed and even crumb. Buns stay fresh for 2-3 days. We are including the recipe for 12 buns as rolls freeze very well and are perfect for baking-in-advance.
We are ready for the barbecue season!
For a good bake:
Tangzhong (milk roux) - pre-cooking flour will release additional starch. Thanks to this addition rolls will have softer texture and improved flavour. Portion of flour and milk is mixed together, cooked (whisking) until reaches 65C and achieves creamy consistency. This roux needs to rest for at least 1 hr (refrigerated) and up to 1 day. The longer you refrigerate this roux the better the outcome. I usually let it mature for 12 hours in the fridge. Why does it need to mature? Time will allow flour (starch) and milk to gel. It will improve taste and texture of your rolls. If you don’t have kitchen thermometer - cook the mixture on medium heat, whisking every so often, for about 3-4 minutes until creamy consistency (thin béchamel sauce consistency, see photo).
Potato - introduces additional moisture and starch. Thanks to this addition the dough is light and pillowy. As a result the crumb is springy, soft, airy AND not dry. Rolls will keep fresh for 2-3 days. To get the best result here you will use potato and water in which potato is cooked. Chop large potato (or two smaller ones - weights included in the recipe) into small pieces and cook for about 20 minutes. You want to overcook the potato. Close to the end of cooking, using potato masher or fork, finely mash potato to combine it with water (small lumps are ok). You will use 350g of that mixture in the dough (more than half of the water will evaporate during cooking). Weigh the mixture as it’s one of the ways to control moisture in the dough. What if at the end of cooking you have too much/too little of potato mixture? Simply adjust the weight by deducting water (too much) or adding a bit of water to bring the weight to 350g.
Flour - use bread flour for this recipe (12g protein). You will get soft texture but in the same time springy and bouncy crumb structure.
Butter incorporation - after initial short kneading let the dough rest. The gluten will relax and strengthen, yeast will start working and after 15-20 minutes your dough will be ready for butter incorporation. For best texture add butter in small portions (2-3 turns), kneading on low-medium speed.
Window pane test - after butter is incorporated, knead the dough until it passes window pane test. This will be a difference between good rolls and excellent rolls. So - what’s the window pane test? Stretch a portion of the dough and it should form thin film without breaking (see picture). It’s a sign that the gluten has been developed properly. This will allow rolls to achieve firm and bouncy structure. What if the dough is breaking? Knead for a little bit longer or you have kneaded too fast (usually an issue when using stand mixer). If you are kneading using stand mixer - use low-medium setting and don’t knead on fast speed. If you are kneading by hand - knead in short bursts - 5 minutes kneading, 5 minutes break and then another 5 minutes of kneading. As there is a lot of starch in this dough it should pass window pane test very quickly - 5-10 minutes of kneading.
Proof at warm temperature - proof the dough at warmer temperature - 26-28C. You may opt to pre-heat the oven for 30 seconds and place covered dough in warm-ish oven or use proofing box. Hitting lactic fermentation will help to achieve soft texture. Shaped rolls can be proofed at ambient room temperature (21-24C). Give it a good 30-40minutes for the final proof, the rolls should become visibly puffy.
Shaping - use your favourite technique for shaping rolls (see some pictures below). Whatever technique you opt to use - make sure to flatten shaped rolls after placing on the tray. The roll before second proof should resemble slightly plump hockey disk (bouncy and firm). You will de-gas extra bubbles (even crumb) and rolls will proof and then bake into a nice roll shape (rather than form a little round ball).
Baking tin - this portion will yield 12 burger buns. In home oven the best option is to bake 6 buns at a time. To avoid over-proofing - divide the dough in half and place one portion in the fridge until ready to shape (all included in the recipe). This dough can stay in the fridge for up to 10 hours.
Storage and freezing - store baked rolls, wrapped, at room temperature for up to 2-3 days. These rolls freeze very well (up to 3 months). Cool rolls fully, place in zip lock bags, freeze. When ready to enjoy - thaw overnight in the fridge and then heat up in the oven or microwave.
Burger Buns Recipe
Yield: 12 burger buns
Time: 2hr 30min prep + 18-20min baking
Tin: large baking tray
Tangzhong (milk roux):
40g bread flour (12g protein)
200ml full-fat milk
1 large potato or 2 smaller (280g unpeeled, about 220g peeled) + about 400ml water for cooking (you will use 350g of potato mixture for the dough - finely mashed potato+water)
For yeast proofing:
125ml full-fat milk
30g (2 Tbsp) sugar
10g (1 Tbsp) bread flour
1 and 1/2 pack active dried yeast (10g, 3 and 1/2 flat tsp) or 35g yeast cake (fresh yeast)
For the dough:
750g bread flour (12g protein)
16g coarse sea salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
70g unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into small pieces
Egg wash + butter wash:
1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water and pinch of table salt
10-12 Tablespoons (80-100g) sesame seeds
60-80g unsalted butter, melted (for brushing hot rolls after baking)
An evening before baking, prepare tangzhong: In a pot with heavy bottom whisk in flour with milk. Warm up slowly to 65C, whisking every so often (watch after reaching 40C as if not whisked it may create lumpy texture). If you don’t have kitchen thermometer - cook on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes, whisking every so often. When you reach 65C and the mixture is creamy and smooth, transfer to a small bowl, cover tightly with cling film and refrigerate for 8-12 hours (and up to 1 day). When ready to prepare the dough, take the mixture out of the fridge and bring to room temperature (30min-1hr) before adding to the dough.
An evening before baking, cook potato: Peel potato and chop into small pieces. Place in a pot, add about 400ml of water and cook on medium heat for about 20-25 minutes. Majority of water will evaporate during cooking. Close to the end of cooking, using potato masher or fork, mash potatoes until fine texture is achieved (small lumps are ok, but the potato should look overcooked and blended in with water). You should have 350g of potato mixture. See notes above. When done, transfer to a bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate overnight. When ready to prepare the dough, take the mixture out of the fridge and bring to room temperature (30min-1hr) before adding to the dough.
Proof the yeast: When ready to mix the dough, warm up 125ml milk to 38C, mix in sugar, flour and yeast. Cover and let proof in warm temperature (24-30C). After 15 minutes the mixture should become visibly frothy and bubbly. If it’s not, start again - the yeast might have been too old or the temperature too high or too low.
Prepare the dough: Whisk flour with coarse sea salt in your main mixing bowl. Add tangzhong, potato mash, proofed yeast, 2 eggs and knead on low-medium speed for 3-5 minutes. If you are kneading by hand - knead for 3 minutes, remembering to rotate the bowl every so often. The dough will look shaggy and that’s ok. When done kneading, cover the dough and let rest at warm temperature (24-30C) for 20 minutes, then go back to the dough and knead, slowly adding butter (add in 3-4 turns). Keep kneading until the dough passes window pane test (10 minutes on low-medium speed or 5-7 minutes by hand). If you knead by hand you may opt to knead for 5 minutes, then leave the dough to rest for 5 min and go back to it to knead until it passes window pane test. When done, tip the dough onto a surface and slap&fold few times to shape. When ready, transfer to a clean bowl lightly brushed with olive oil.
First proof: Cover the bowl tightly with cling film and proof for 1hr at 26-28C (or until it more than doubles in size).
Shape: When ready, de-gas the dough (punch and knead for few seconds). Tip the dough onto lightly floured work surface. If you don’t have two large trays (or you bake in home oven - like us) - divide the dough in half and place one half back in the bowl, cover tightly and refrigerate. Shape the other half - divide into 6 pieces (about 115-120g each) and shape into rolls. Line baking tray with parchment paper. Place 6 rolls per large tray and flatten each roll (it should resemble flat disc shape/hockey disc shape).
Second proof: Cover the tray and proof rolls for 30-40 minutes at room temperature (20-23C). The buns should become visibly puffy. In a meantime preheat the oven to 180C (160C fan forced). Just before baking - brush rolls with egg wash (1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water and a pinch of table salt), sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Bake at 180C (160C fan forced) for 18-20 minutes. When baked, take out from the oven and brush tops generously with melted butter when rolls are still hot. Cool down fully before serving - it will take about 1 hour for the crumb to set.