You don’t have to be a master breadmaker to produce homemade gluten-free buns. Just use these expert tips.
Now that we’re entering the hottest of summer’s days, picnics, cookouts and other outdoor get-togethers dominate the calendar. For those with celiac, that can mean hot dogs and burgers without any buns. That’s not much fun—unless you prefer to consume such ”naked” items with a knife and fork or go the Paleo or low-carb route and wrap your burger or hot dog in lettuce.
While many varieties of gluten-free buns line store shelves, adventurous home bakers should consider making their own. You have two options—modifying a dry-ingredient bread mix or using an existing recipe designed to produce gluten-free buns.
Hot dog and burger buns are generally made from a medium enriched type of yeast-raised dough. The formula typically contains eggs, sugars, milk (mainly milk powder) and some fats/oils. All of these give the dough a softer texture, along with more natural moisture and crust color.
I understand if you’re a little hesitant. That’s why finding a packaged gluten-free bun that you like might be the easiest option. But, if you’re willing to try, start with the dry-box mix option. These mixes, mainly available for items like pizza crust, loaf breads and the like, are engineered to work. All of the dry ingredients you’ll need are already in the box. You’ll need to measure and add the liquid-based ingredients—which might be as simple as water, oil and eggs—to the mix.
Enrich your mix
Start by making the liquid ingredients “richer” by replacing 50 to 75 percent of the water with skim milk. Liquids should be as close to room temperature as possible before adding.
Replace the remaining water with liquid whole eggs. Add in any fat/oil as directed. These adjustments provide the level of hydration needed to bring the mixture together very closely to the original design, but with more enrichment.
Your bread mixture will appear more dense/heavy, which is normal. Allow an additional 10 to 15 minutes to proof, or rise. Also, baking temperatures might have to be lower at first. Due to the additional browning capabilities, allow the crust color to form gradually.
The dry mix will probably already contain some sugars. For additional yeast activity and to provide additional browning of the crust, consider adding 1 teaspoon granulated or turbinado sugar to the mixture.
Get your buns in shape
You can shape the hot dog buns with a pastry bag, piping the mixture into cylindrical tubes of desired length on lightly oiled parchment paper. Shape the burger buns by scooping out with a lightly oiled portion or ice cream scoop, then place on lightly oiled parchment paper.
Allow time to proof in a warm, draft-free area of your kitchen—not in the oven. The buns should increase in volume by 50 percent. For extra color—and to allow sesame seeds to adhere to the tops of burger buns—mix together one whole egg, a pinch of salt and one teaspoon water for an egg wash. Lightly brush the bun surface with egg wash prior to baking.
Make sure the buns reach an internal temperature of at least 210° F. Remove from baking sheets and place onto a cake-cooling or similar screen. Thoroughly cooled buns can be bagged up and frozen. They will stay good at room temperature for two to three days if stored in an airtight container.
If you’re trying an existing gluten-free bun recipe, follow the directions, but consider my tips to take it to the next level.
And remember, any mistakes can be broken up and turned into fresh or dried bread crumbs or used in a gluten-free bread pudding.
Richard Coppedge Jr. is an award-winning chef and professor of baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America. He is the author of Gluten-Free Baking with The Culinary Institute of America: 150 Flavorful Recipes from the World’s Premier Culinary College and Baking for Special Diets.
Looking for more gluten-free tips for the kitchen? Check out Richard Coppedge Jr.’s past columns: