Friday, February 7, 2014

New England Style Hot Dog Buns

We were having lunch with some folks in Maine years ago. Grilled hot dogs were on the menus. These were not like any hot dogs I had seen before. For one, they were bright red (referred to as "red snappers by Mainers) for another, they were served on a bun that was unlike any I had seen before.


The buns, used for hot dogs and for the classic presentation of the lobster roll is a split top affair, cut from a loaf. This means that most of them have crust at the top and bottom. The sides are soft.
What I liked about the buns right of the bat was that they were less spongey and more substantial than regular buns. What I didn't like was that you can't find them in California.

That's why I was pleased when I noticed recently that USA pans has come out with a baking pan that allows the home baker to make them. Pleased, not just because I would have a chance to make these buns at home, but because it was this company that chose to make them. USA makes very nice, sturdy pans that are a pleasure to use. [ I used to think a pan was just a pan. About this as with many other things in life, I was mistaken.]

I made my first batch recently. I was not disappointed. 

I won't go into detail here. As with most recipes, it has been documented with more detail and style than I could ever muster. 

In this case, I encourage you to look at P J Hamel's excellent post on the King Arthur Flour blog, Flourish.

My only comment would be that the recipe they use is a bit fussy. I used the same procedure, but used this more basic recipe:

3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
2 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
3 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast
Directions

1) Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—to make a soft, smooth dough.
2) Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it's doubled in bulk.
3) Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round 1" thick (more or less); flatten to about 3" across. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until very puffy.
4) If desired, brush buns with melted butter. Or brush lightly with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
5) Bake the buns in a preheated 375°F oven for 12 to 15 minutes, till golden. Cool on a rack.

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