Ask ten people what they like on their hamburger and you're likely to get ten different answers.
But let us pause for a moment and ponder what makes a hamburger truly great ...
... what we can all agree on is that the most fundamental building block for a great hamburger is a perfectly cooked patty sandwiched in between a fluffy, soft, yet sturdy bun.
In this video I demonstrate a new brioche bun recipe that will truly take your hamburger game to the next level. But first a little back story ...
... The Story of Wartface
There's this guy named Wartface.
He's been a long time member of the AmazingRibs.com community (the best BBQ website I know of), and he stumbled onto StellaCulinary.com when searching for information on bread baking.
Wartface quickly and rabidly consumed all my bread content, including the five audio podcasts and all of our bread baking videos.
But he wasn't satisfied; being a BBQ fanatic, Wartface wanted my help developing the ultimate hamburger brioche bun. Something soft and chewy, but still sturdy enough to stand up to Meathead's famous Steakhouse Steakburger.
So I made Wartface a deal; I'll give you a baker's percentage formula as a starting point for a hamburger brioche bun recipe. You make the buns, and then tell me what you do and don't like about them, and then I'll show you how to adjust recipe accordingly, using the baker's percentage. I figured if anything, this would be a good, practical example of how various ratios of ingredients would effect the texture and flavor of bread.
Honestly, I expected Wartface to bake a couple recipes, lose steam, and then I'd pick up the brioche bun project once my schedule freed up a bit. But Wartface became obsessed, baking recipe after recipe, hundreds of buns in all, coming back after each bake, taking my suggested tweaks, and then turning out another batch immediately.
After going back-and-forth a few times, Wartface sent an excited e-mail telling me that the latest formula had just produced the best hamburger brioche buns he's ever tasted.
A bit skeptical that we'd hit the mark that quickly, I baked numerous batches of the exact same formula in the Stella Kitchen, looking for flaws or possible improvements. We made hamburger after hamburger, and even served them to our entire restaurant staff as family meal on a couple of occasions. I finally had to concede that yes, these were indeed the best hamburger brioche buns I've ever tasted.
Now please keep in mind that I loathe using the word "best" as an adjective for food. It immediately shuts down the mind for forward progression, limiting future development.
But quite frankly, if I were to stop and describe what qualities make up my ideal hamburger bun -- chewy yet soft, airy but sturdy, complex in flavor yet subtle enough to not outshine the burger itself -- this bun fits the bill perfectly.
So a special thanks to Wartface for his obsessive determination in formulating this brioche bun recipe.
Tin Foil Baking Rings
In the hamburger brioche bun video at the top of this page, I demonstrate using tinfoil rings to help the hamburger buns hold their shape during proofing and baking. These foil "collars" or rings are convenient, inexpensive, and can easily be customized for any size or shape you want your hamburger bun to be.
However, there are a couple downfalls to this approach.
While the foil collars are reusable, you will only get so many uses out of them before they become gunked up and the dough starts to stick (even if you hand wash after each use). They can also be a bit time consuming to make, especially in large quantities. If you plan on making burger buns casually, then these foil collars will absolutely do the trick.
But if you want to bake these buns on a large production scale, you may want to invest in some tart rings or a brioche bun pan.