This story is filled with twists and turns, emotions, suspense and a happy ending. So sit back, pour yourself a cup of tea and enjoy this story about a girl and her hamburger.
As I have mentioned before, I really enjoy a good steak or hamburger, especially grass-fed beef – I have wonderful memories of celebrations, picnics and other gatherings where I have shared deliciously grilled items with people I like and love. So last fall when I figured out I had sensitivities to yeast and sugar, I remember thinking about how I was supposed to enjoy a hamburger without the accompanying tasty bun. I had no answer because I could not find any bread in the supermarkets that did not contain yeast, let alone one without yeast and sugar. The winter passed without me eating a hamburger. As the springtime weather emerged I began to worry – what would I do come summer when I am at a picnic and am forced to eat a (gulp) bun-less burger? (Pause here for dramatic effect.)
What is this I hear about steam-risen bread? A friend’s sister-in-law who was in culinary school said it was mentioned in a class. I scoured the Internet for recipes and found information on the theory behind the bread: a steam-risen batter has more moisture relative to a yeast bread so that when it bakes in the hot oven, the steam forces the flours to rise. Ok, this sounds promising – I went to the kitchen and preheated the oven.
Bun Attempt #1: Disappointment
I could not find a steam-risen recipe, so I put my understanding of the theory to the test starting with a recipe for gluten and yeast free bread. I removed the sugar and replaced with honey. The batter was kind of runny, and when I scooped it onto the baking sheet, it just kept running away. SensitiveHusband and I tried to contain the oozing scoops with our hands without much luck. Oh well, into the oven they went. The result was the strangest looking flatbread loaded with bumps and divets although it tasted good. However, I would not be proud to serve it at a picnic.
Bun Attempt #2: More Disappointment
Our friend, Stever, suggested using bread flour because it has more protein and would rise more than the all purpose and whole wheat varieties. So for my second attempt I just used bread flour.
Wow, bread flour sure is strong! The batter was the thickest I have ever dealt with, and it took two of us to wrestle it onto the baking sheet. It also took us awhile to prepare the buns for the oven – alas, the result was another flatbread, although it was thicker than the first attempt. At this point I thought about Julia Child who sometimes had to tinker with recipes before getting them just right. Could I bake a bun that was tasty and pleasant to look at? I would have to keep trying.
Bun Attempt #3: Hope for a “Batter” Future
Not to be outdone by a batter, I strategized about how to change my recipe. I decided that I would invest in a muffin top pan. That way my batter would have a better chance of rising up rather than spreading out. I searched high and low for a muffin top pan and struck out in a number of stores. I had success online and ended up purchasing this pan by Chicago Metallic. I adjusted the flour mixture again, adding all purpose and whole wheat flours for some texture and bread flour for maximum lift. Success! The muffin top pan kept the batter from running out and the moisture in the batter allowed the buns to rise enough so I could split them in half! Now I just need some ketchup…tune in for Part 2 of this exciting tale.
Here’s my recipe for now, I’ll keep working to refine it…and welcome any suggestions on flours, steam-risen bread recipes, or other alternatives.
Yeast-free, Sugar-free Hamburger Buns
Yield: 6 buns
1 cup bread flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey
2/3 cup milk (or water)
Sesame seeds (optional)
1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 1 muffin top pan.
2 In your electric mixer, beat the flours, salt, eggs, honey and milk on high speed for 7-10 minutes. This should produce a batter with a consistency between soft butter-cream icing and cookie dough.
3 Working quickly, spoon this mixture by 1/2 cup portions onto prepared muffin top pan. Allowing the batter to sit for more than a minute will result in deflated buns.
4 If desired, sprinkle with sesame seeds or coarse salt.
5 Place in heated oven and bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown and puffed.
6 Allow to cool completely before slicing. As the buns cool, you will see a slight deflation of the buns.
I am also sharing this recipe with Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, This Chick Cooks, Lady Behind the Curtain, Miz Helen’s Country Cottage, Food Trip Friday and Cybele Pascal Allergen Free Cuisine.