The perfect grassfed burger needs a worthy bun—and good ones are hard to find. To make this whole-wheat bun, I called on my bread baking training in France and Mel Darbyshire, head baker of the Grand Central Baking Company in Portland. It is tender to the bite and moist but stands up to a substantial burger. The user-friendly dough can be mixed by machine or hand. It rises once before you pat it flat and stamp out rounds—just like making biscuits. The second rise occurs in short order before baking, cooling, and splitting them to eat within a day, or to freeze for up to one month. (Reprinted from Pure Beef, Running Press, 2012)
Whole-Wheat Hamburger Buns
Makes 8 (4-inch) buns
2 cups (9 ounces) whole-wheat flour
2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups warm milk (75°F to 80°F)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons flax seeds or sesame seeds
1. To mix the dough, whisk the whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, a food processor, or a large mixing bowl. In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk, oil, and egg. Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir together with a few strokes of a rubber spatula to form a rough dough.
2. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 8 minutes. The dough will clean the sides of the bowl, but may stick to the bottom. Using the spatula, scrape the dough hook and the bottom of the bowl to collect the dough into a ball.
If using a food processor, use the dough blade and pulse the machine until the dough comes together in a ball. Run the machine for 1 minute to knead it.
If kneading by hand, work the spatula firmly through the dough to collect as much of the flour as you can. Scrape the dough onto an unfloured countertop. Set a kitchen timer for 12 minutes and knead rhythmically but not hurriedly. The dough will become very elastic and will be tacky. Using the spatula, collect the dough, including any scraps from the counter and your hands, into a ball. Flour your hands and place the dough back into the bowl.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the dough doubles in volume.
4. To shape and bake the buns, line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Dust the counter with flour and tip out the dough, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula to release it in one large clump. Flour your hands and press the dough 3/4 inch thick. Dust a biscuit cutter about 31/2 inches in diameter to cut out 8 circles, collecting the dough and patting it down again 1 to 2 times until all the dough gets used. Space them onto the baking sheet and press them with your palm so that they are 4 to 41/2 inches wide.
5. Let them rise uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes until they are about 11/2 inches high.
Preheat the oven to 350°F with the racks centered in the oven. Brush the tops of the buns with water and sprinkle with the flax seeds.
6. Bake until they are golden brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Cool to room temperature before splitting with a bread knife and store at room temperature or in the freezer in a resealable plastic bag.