Sourdough Buns

I stand behind the counter at bedtime, and shout out equations to my kids, with flour all over my hands, not wanting to touch the calculator on my phone for fear of covering it with sourdough starter. The buns I’m trying to make take a lot of math into account.

First, swapping out the sourdough for yeast cuts the four and the water, but not in equal amounts. And then, I have to triple everything… because 8 buns are just not enough for this family. 
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There is an amazing recipe on the King Arthur Flour website for hamburger buns that is simple, and so tasty. The recipe calls for yeast, but far down in the comments, someone asks if you can substitute sourdough for the yeast. The answer is yes

 1 cup of starter to replace 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of liquid in the recipe. If you don’t use additional yeast, it will take significantly longer for the buns to rise, so be sure to plan for that. 


sourdough buns004But you know how it is. Recipes with substitutions, especially with sourdough rarely turn out that good. Except this one does. It really does.

And, I have abused this recipe. I’ve doubled, tripled it and added way too much flour because I didn’t like how “sticky” the dough was to work with… and it doesn’t matter. This dough makes the most amazing tasting, soft buns I have yet to bake at home.

To make these, I simply mix the flour, starter and water the night before, and let them rise overnight. In the morning, I add the eggs, butter and salt and let that rise for about 4 hours — or whenever I can get to it.

Today, I came home from the grocery store, and found the dough spilling out over the plastic lid I had lightly placed on top. I should have taken a picture.

The only problem with the King Arthur recipe is the quantity. Eight buns isn’t going to cut it in this family. So, I always triple the recipe, but even that isn’t enough. I’d like to have a few to stow away in the freezer for another rainy day. 

So, in response to my on-the-fly calculations, is the recipe quadrupled, with sourdough, rather than yeast. When I do it this way, I almost have to mix it up in two batches, as my bowl and stand mixture isn’t quite big enough. 

Two separate batches of each:

First mix:

  • 349 ml lukewarm water
  • 685 grams of flour
  • Add 242 grams of sourdough starter
  • Mix in your mixer and let stand overnight, covered

In the morning add:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2.5 teaspoons salt
  1. Mix in your stand mixer and let rest/rise, covered for 2-4 hours, or until it’s doubled in height.
  2. Deflate the dough, and cut it into 16 equal pieces — or 32 total if you are quadrupling the recipe. (Use a scale.)
  3. Form your buns into balls, and line them up on parchment paper. Use your hand to squish them down, so that the buns will be buns, not balls.
  4. Cover, and let them rise for an hour.
  5. At this point, you can brush them with melted butter, and if you are adding seeds, brush them with egg whites before sprinkling seeds.
  6. Bake them at 375 for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Let them cool, to get soft bread.

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