The best buns

Two buns with egg and blue cheese sandwiched in the middle of each

Nine freshly baked buns cooling on a rack

Before I found this recipe, we never seemed to have buns on hand. We always had slicing bread, and occasionally pita, and we would generally make do with those when we had hamburgers or anything else that required buns. One night we were completely out of bread, though, and we knew there was no time to pop a loaf in the bread machine (since bread takes about 5 hours to rise and bake in our bread machine). Amazingly, earlier in the week I had seen a recipe for “40 minute buns” on The Kosher Foodies.

*As a total aside, you’d think I didn’t live in a city where I could walk downstairs and find some buns or rolls or some kind of bread at pretty much any hour of the day or night within a one block radius. But that’s just not the kind of girl I am. 

Balsamic covered portobello mushroom cap in the middle of a fresh bun

Having made many kinds of bread in the past, I have to admit that I didn’t quite believe that the recipe would really work. I thought it would take longer than specified, or that the buns wouldn’t really rise. I was wrong to be skeptical. These are the best buns I’ve ever eaten, and some of the best bread I’ve ever baked. Fluffy, yet substantial, flavorful, beautiful, and best of all quick.

Now if 40 minutes still seems like too long on a busy weeknight, just make a batch or two and freeze them for later. We do this regularly, since we only use a few at a time. Then we always have them on hand for just about any kind of filling imaginable. And if we run out, it takes practically no time to whip up a new batch.

Two buns with egg and blue cheese sandwiched in the middle of each

Sometimes we make them smaller for little slider buns (16 per batch), and other times we make them larger for really hearty sandwiches (8 per batch). But usually they are somewhere in the middle, and we get about 10-12 per batch. I would not, however, recommend trying to make them in shapes other than spherical. It just didn’t work well the two times we tried it (though you may have more luck). It’s worth it to roll them into pretty good balls, so they don’t have crags running through them.

Recipe: Buns

This recipe is tailored to bread machines on the dough cycle, but it will work if you’re kneading manually too. For a more straightforward manual approach, see “40 minute buns” on The Kosher Foodies.

  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 egg (room temperature is best – submerge a cold egg in warm, not hot, water for about 5 minutes if you need to bring it up to temperature quickly)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 – 3.5 cups all purpose or bread flour – you can include a bit of whole wheat flour but no more than 1 cup
  • 2 tbs active dry yeast or bread machine yeast
  1. If using a bread machine, add all of these ingredients to the bucket part of your machine, in the listed order. When adding the yeast, make a little divot in the flour to cradle the yeast in. Set the machine to a dough only (no bake) cycle, and make sure not to let it rise for more than 30 minutes in the machine.
  2. Lightly flour the pans you plan to bake the buns on, or line with a silicon baking mat. Pull the dough out of the machine, or bowl, onto one of the pans, and separate into two parts. Keep splitting the dough until you have the desired number of segments (see above the recipe).
  3. Roll each segment into a ball and place evenly apart on the baking pans.
  4. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the towel and bake for 10-15 minutes (on the lower end if the buns are small, on the higher end if the buns are big). Buns should be golden brown.
  7. Allow to cool and either enjoy while warm, or allow to cool completely and freeze in freezer safe bags to enjoy later.

We put beef burgers, turkey burgers, veggie burgers, portobello caps, sloppy joes, chicken salad, eggs and/or cheese. The list is really endless – anything you would want on a bun. They really stand up well to moist ingredients, which I am always grateful for, since I like pickles or kimchee on just about every sandwich.

2 responses to “The best buns”

  1. This may be a silly beginner question, but once the buns are frozen, how do you get them unfrozen without making them soggy and gross? When my folks freeze bread, it ends up with most of the ice on the bottom, and putting the bread in the toaster results in half-dry, half-soggy, all-kinda-inedible bread.

    • At some point, I’ve really got to write a freezing post. First off, when they come out of the oven, let them cool as much as possible before putting them into a zip-top freezer bag. You’ll want to squeeze as much air out as possible before putting them in the freezer. Ice can form in the bag if the buns are still warm because they will still let out moisture and that will condense inside the bag and then melt on the outside of the buns when they defrost. This is also where using an airtight bag makes a difference because you can control moisture getting in and out of the bag more with a zip-top bag than with any other kind.

      Assuming you’ve frozen them as above, all you need to do to defrost is to grab a few buns out of the bag and set on a plate. If you notice any ice stuck to them, take it off while it is still hard, though there shouldn’t be much if any in the first place. If you take them out when you start cooking, they might defrost on their own by the time you are ready to use them. If not, you can zap them in the microwave for about 10 seconds, or in the toaster for a few minutes, to defrost them the rest of the way. They are easier to cut when still partially frozen, so you might do that before warming them up.

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