Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Anatomy of a Burger, Part One – The Bun

Yes, I really have what Andrew refers to as Cooking Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I made my own buns for the Burger Smackdown.

In repertoire bread and related there of three types I have yet to be fully satisfied with the final product: Rye Bread, Bagels and Hamburger/Hot Dog Rolls. The perfect bun will be somewhere between those 8 packs of insipid grocery store buns and a crusty sourdough roll. I want a softer crust than the latter, as well as a lighter, less dense crumb – soft enough not to obscure the burger, but tight enough to absorb the juices without dissolving.

My current recipe is a constantly evolving variation on David Rosengarten’s Philly Cheesesteak Roll. I have changed over time from oil to trans-fat free shortening and reduced the flour, but it’s still not there. I need a slacker dough. I have even been thinking of experimenting with cake flour.

But the real purpose of this is to raise a variation of a theme that Michael Ruhlman posted on a about six weeks ago – the importance of a kitchen scale, with flour as his primary example. Flour measured by dry measuring cup can vary in weight by as much as 3-4 ounces per measured cup, sometimes even within the same brand. That is why the best books on baking measure by weight as well as volume, the best of the best give that weight in more accurate grams.

But there is another variation between packages of flour, moisture content – not just moisture caused by kitchen humidity, but the moisture content of the flour itself. When we are between trips to the Clinton-Bailey Market, where we usually buy all purpose in 25 lb. bags - bread flour in 50 lb. bags, we get a usual supermarket type brand.
The last 5 lb. two bags, bought at the same store on the same day, were very dry. Both Trish in her sweet baking, and me in my bread work, noted how thirsty the flour was. One loaf of a regularly made bread took almost an additional cup of water.

Whether it was how it was milled, or stored, or how long it was stored, this flour was dryer than usual.

Bottom line, the best cooking tools aren't one you buy. Your eyes, nose, ears, fingers and taste buds are bettere than any machine - and with practice, awfully accurate!

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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -