Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Poppy Seed Hot Dog Buns (and the Chicago Hot Dog)

When I moved away from Chicago, I thought that the lack of poppy seed hot dogs buns in my new hometown was something I could remedy by shopping better. It took a while for me to figure out that poppy seed buns aren't popular outside Chicago. Everywhere I asked about them, I got quizzical looks, but no buns.

A few hot dog vendors here sell Chicago-style dogs with poppy seed buns, but grocery stores don't sell them at all. Ever.

Of course, my answer is to make my own.

The instant mashed potatoes in the bun recipe are my secret weapon for making fluffy buns, and the semolina adds a nice depth of flavor. Much better than store-bought buns, for sure.

Quick Shine is a baking spray that's used to create a shiny crust, and it also helps toppings adhere. It's handy to have on hand if you do a lot of baking, but it's not necessary. A simple egg wash - an egg beaten with a bit of water - will do the same thing. On the plus side, the egg wash is a completely natural product, but on the negative side, it can be a waste of an egg if you don't have a lot of bread to brush.

Of course, the poppy seeds are optional, so you can skip the egg wash if you don't want seeds.

As far as a Chicago-style dog, the traditional condiments are:

Yellow Mustard
Sport Peppers
Celery Salt
Cucumber or pickle spear
...on a poppy seed bun.

Needless to say, you can leave off what you don't like. Not every hot dog place in Chicago offers all the toppings I listed, and some offer even more. But the one condiment that's traditionally omitted from the Chicago dog is ketchup. Use it at your own risk.

And now, you can make your own poppy seed buns.

Poppy Seed Hot Dog Buns

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup instant mashed potato
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
Poppy seeds
Egg wash or Quick Shine

Mix the water, yeast, sugar, and instant potatoes in the bowl of your stand mixer. Let stand for about 15 minutes until it is bubbly and frothy.

Add the salt, bread flour, and semolina, and knead until the dough is smooth and is becoming elastic. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes, then add the oil and knead until it is fully incorporated and the dough is shiny and elastic.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise until doubled in size

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and sprinkle some cornmeal on a sheet pan.

Flour your work surface, and knead the dough briefly, then divide it into 8 equal pieces. Form each piece into a log 5-6 inches long, depending on how big your hot dogs are. Keep in mind that the buns will expand in length as they rise and bake.

Cover the shaped buns with plastic wrap and let then rise until doubled, about 20-30 minutes.

If you want poppy seeds or other toppings, brush the buns with an egg wash (one egg beaten with a tablespoon of water) or spray with Quick Shine to help the seeds adhere. You can also spray or brush the tops with water to make them sticky, but I find that I lose a lot more seeds that way.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown.

Cool on a rack. If you prefer a soft crust, cover the buns with a clean kitchen towel while they're cooling.

This also appeared on Serious Eats and has been submitted to Yeastspotting.


philandlauren said...

Love the fly-in-your face attitude about "synthetic" 'prepackaged" stuff ;like instant ,mash and Quick Shine. The waste of an egg is a good point--instead, eat a real egg-that's healthy! And there are tons of pre-made items that can be used to make a superior product. Wondra works better than flour to crisp up fish, for instance. Do you like the buns steamed or as is? Great post

Donna Currie said...

philandlauren, the instant potatoes I use are pretty much just dried potatoes, so they aren't as bad as the ones that come with a list of 15 ingredients. For a packaged product, it's no worse than flour or rolled oats or dried fruit.

The Quick Shine is another story. It's chemical soup in a spray can, but it gets the job done. I doubt it's any worse than anything that's on commercial bread, but I offer the options for people to choose what they want to use.

As far as steaming, typical Chicago Dog buns are steamed. I don't think it's necessary for really fresh bread, but it helps if the buns are a little past their prime.

Carol 'n Wayne said...

Just came across your blog after seeing it on YeastSpotting. Really like the looks of these, but was curious. You didn't call for a rise after shaping, is that correct to bake immediately after shaping/egg wash?

I really enjoy baking bread stuff while we are cruising on the boat. http://flukeblog.blogspot.com/2010/08/grand-cay-wells-bay.html has a pic of my attempt at Pizza and Stromboli.
(using Peter Reinhart's recipes from http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to-make-pizza-dough-calzones-stromboli.aspx)

Donna Currie said...

Hi Carol, Wayne, 'n Eddie. Yup, you're right. I managed to delete a step somehow. They do need a short rise before baking.

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