Brioche Burger Buns

 

We’d like to meet the guy who first decided to put a big, juicy burger patty between two slices of brioche. It’s a multicultural marriage made in culinary heaven: the French are responsible for the rich, eggy bread, and the Americans (with a little help from 19th-century German immigrants) lay claim to the ground-beef patty. If that’s not international diplomacy, we don’t know what is.

But while French babies are rumored to start cranking out unimpeachable brioche at birth, the rest of us can run into trouble. There’s dry, stodgy brioche, cloyingly sweet brioche, and—perhaps the worst offender when it comes to burger building—the dreaded butter bomb. So what’s the secret to the gorgeous, golden-brown buns that grace so many restaurant menus these days? Most chefs and bakers will evangelize their own formulas, and for good reason: different approaches work well for different reasons. We designed this simple, universal formula to yield a great result at home.

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Our recipe calls for about 30% butter relative to the weight of the bread flour, whereas many recipes use as much as 75% butter and a few artisan formulas combine equal parts flour and butter. In general, as you increase the butter-to-flour ratio, the brioche will taste more like a cake, and less like a bread. We use a nice, lean “”bread-like”” formula, and tenderize the crumb with amylase, an enzyme that breaks starches down into sugars. Amylase is naturally present in wheat germ—and thus naturally present in flour—but only in small amounts. A small amount of pure amylase speeds the fermentation process by breaking the starch into sugars the yeast can consume (while enhancing flavor at the same time), leading to a softer product with none of that stodgy quality we’re so eager to avoid.

Follow the instructions at ChefSteps.com and you’ll wind up with a bun that’s rich in flavor, moist, and eggy, while also durable enough to hold up to a big, fat juicy burger. As they teach the babies in France to say: Bon appétit.

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