Bread Baker: Testing Two Hot Dog Bun Recipes

Before the start of the summer grilling season, a reader requested that I recommend a hot dog bun recipe. I got down to business, testing a basic recipe and then playing with it to try and improve its taste and texture. The results surprised me.

First, let’s be honest. What makes a hot dog bun a hot dog bun is not its taste, but its shape. Almost any type of bread can serve as a hot dog bun as long as it is thin and sliced down the middle.

All hot dog buns are some variation of simple white bread. I don’t like hot dog buns that disintegrate once they come into contact with any liquid, so my ideal bun is tender yet firm (also the best way to discipline a small child). After consulting a wide variety of recipes, I opted to use King Arthur Flour’s recipe as my control. It is straightforward, using all-purpose flour and milk. It doesn’t include an egg, like some recipes, which should make it not quite so delicate.

I wanted to change as many things as I could to up the flavor of my experimental buns, while still keeping the ratios the same. The only ingredients that stayed constant were the salt and yeast. Here’s the summary:

  • Instead of white sugar I used honey
  • Instead of vegetable oil I used butter
  • Instead of regular milk I used buttermilk
  • Instead of all-purpose flour I used a mixture of bread flour, semolina and white whole wheat

Here was my thinking with the flour: The semolina would provide a nutty flavor, and the higher protein content in the semolina and bread flour would lead to a more chewy bun. The extra gluten in those flours would balance out the lack of gluten in the whole wheat flour.

So, I baked two batches of buns. The basic bun is on top, while my experimental bun is on the bottom. Obviously, the experimental bun rose a lot higher. I wasn’t expecting such a difference. That’s thanks to the type of flour. This meant that even though each batch of dough weighed about the same amount, the experimental buns were much larger. They were fluffier, too. I liked these large fluffy buns, but they did swallow up my hot dog.

The real surprise was in the taste department. They essentially tasted the same. Maybe a hint of the semolina flour came through the experimental buns, but it was hardly noticeable. My great plan of the perfectly balanced honey-wheat-buttermilk bun was foiled.

Conclusions? You might as well stick with the basic buns. If you are craving extra-fluffy buns, use bread flour instead of all-purpose. I would also encourage additional experimentation. Try adding an egg, or some instant potato flakes. The egg will tenderize the dough even more, while the potato flakes retain moisture.

I’ve included both bun recipes. The baking steps are the same. Each recipe makes 8 hot dog buns:

Basic buns:

  • 3 to 3 1/2 cups (12 3/4 to 14 7/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm milk
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • sesame seeds

Experimental buns:

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups (6 3/8 to 8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 cup (5 3/4 ounces) semolina flour
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/2 ounces) white whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 cups warm buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg white, beaten
  • sesame seeds

Step 1. Combine all of the ingredients except 1/2 cup of the all-purpose or bread flour. Begin kneading. If the dough is still wet and isn’t pulling away from the sides of the bowl (like in the photo) add up to 1/2 cup more flour. Add the flour a tablespoon or two at a time, kneading after each addition. You want the dough to just pull away from the sides of the bowl, while still sticking to the bottom.

Step 2. Put the dough into a well-oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap, letting rise for 1 hour.

 

Step 3. Divide the dough into eight equal pieces and roll them into balls. Then roll them into fat snakes, about 4 1/2 inches long. Place the shaped buns into a greased 9×13-inch pan. Press down on the tops of the buns so they rise a little flatter. Cover the pan with plastic wrap.

Step 4. Let the shaped buns rise again for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. After the buns have risen, brush them with the egg white and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

 

Step 5. Let the buns cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove them and transfer them to a wire cooling rack. To serve, simply slice the buns apart.

 

 

  • Louisepersson1

    I love your blog! I particularly like your analytical approach to recipe building. Your methods are so different from my own–and as a result I learn so much from you. Thank you!!!

  • Jen

    The buns look really yummy, too. Way better than store-bought.

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