Sunday, May 13, 2012

Baking Buns on a Grill

I bake bread all year long, but I don't always bake it in the oven. When it's a warm day, or when I've got other things in the oven, or when I feel like hanging around outside instead of lurking in the kitchen, sometimes I'll bake bread in my grill.

It's not that strange. With the lid closed, the grill is very similar to the oven in your house - the grill heats from the bottom, just like an oven. The big difference is that temperature in a grill isn't as easy to control. And even a gas grill that can be regulated usually doesn't have a precise thermometer - so there's some guesswork involved.

But that's okay - bread isn't that picky about temperature. You'll get different results if you bake your bread at higher or lower temperatures, but it will still work.

Most of the hot dog and hamburger buns you see at the store are squishy white bread. To make these a little better for you, I made them with a mix of white and whole wheat flour.

If you don't want to bake these in your grill, you can bake them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes.

Hamburger and Hot Dog Buns

1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) whole wheat flour (or white wheat)
1 cup water
2 cups (9 ounces) bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Greek-style yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the whole wheat flour with the water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cover it and let it rest at room temperature for an hour.

Add the bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and yogurt. Knead with the dough hook at medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the oil is completely incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Meanwhile, prepare your grill for baking. The best configuration is to have the heat at the sides of the grill, with a baking stone in the center of the grill. You'll be baking on a baking sheet, but the stone will help to even out the heat under the pan. Cover the grill so it retains the heat.

Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal. (Make sure the sheet will fit in the grill with the cover closed.)

When the dough has doubled, flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Knead it briefly, then divide it into 8 pieces if you're making hamburger buns, or 12 pieces if you're making hot dog buns. Or, if you want some of each, divide the dough in half, then divide one of the halves into 4 pieces for burger buns, and divide the second half into 6 pieces for hot dog buns.

For hamburger buns, form the dough into balls, then flatten them to disks, Make them thinner in the center than on the edges. For hot dog buns, shape the dough into logs about the same length as the hot dogs you'll be serving.

Arrange the buns on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

When the dough has doubled, uncover the dough, put the pan in the grill, and cover it quickly so it doesn't lose heat. Bake until the buns are nicely browned - the time will vary depending on how hot your grill is. Check it after 15 minutes. It could take as much as 30 minutes if the grill isn't very hot.

Remove the buns from the grill and let them cool or a rack.

This has been submitted to YeastSpotting.