Monday, March 23, 2009

Shaping your buns

Who doesn't dream of shapelier buns?

No, no, not those kind of buns. You might want the Thighmaster or some Spanx for those.

We're talking hamburger buns here. You want them poofy and round, yet smooth and flat enough to get your mouth around. Again, we're talking hamburger buns here. Get your mind out of the gutter.

If you don't have much dough-shaping experience, these might take a bit of practice. Just a tiny bit, though, this ain't rocket science.

Once you've made your dough and divided it, you'll want to roll it into rough balls. Then, you'll want to "cloak" the dough, by gently stretching the top surface of each ball and tucking it under the bottom, turning the ball a quarter turn each time. This sounds more complicated that it is. All you're doing is creating a nice, smooth top for your bun. (This is the same way you'd shape a dinner roll and all sorts of other loaves, too.)

Now, you've got a roll with a nice, smooth top. But the bottom is kind of lumpy, bumpy. That's easy to fix. You just need a little traction.

(You can find some good photos and description of this technique here at Fine Cooking.)

Using your UNFLOURED hands or an UNFLOURED spot on the counter, rotate the dough ball while keeping the top side up. The surface tension from the counter or your hand will gently erase the wrinkles on the bottom of the dough, forming a ball that's smooth all around. Once you get really good at this, you can do two balls of dough at a time -- one in each hand -- on the counter. I'm not quite there yet, but I'm learning.

Leave your dough balls alone at this point and you've got dinner rolls. Flatten them a bit with you palms and -- BINGO! -- hamburger buns.

And what shapely buns they are.

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