Whole grain wheat sourdough hamburger buns with tarragon

As I am writing this post I am more than 4000 miles away from home in a city which has four time more residents than the country I come from - New York City!
I have been looking forward to this moment so much and now it's finally here.  It's the final event of the Saveur Blog Awards 2015 taking place tomorrow and on Thursday when winners in each of 13 categories will be announced! I am so excited to meet all the talented bloggers from around the world and Saveur team, to hear their stories and write some new ones.

Just before I left, the summer sneak peeked back at home. End of the May is my favorite time of the year. Elder tree is in its full bloom, grasses are tall and there is a warm scent in the air telling me everything is going to be OK. I've spent these last days in the nature, exploring my herb garden, taking photos and letting myself to express.

Sourdough baking is one of my favorite ways to express myself. Possibilities are endless and this time I decided to make whole grain wheat sourdough hamburger buns with tarragon from my herb harden. I rarely use tarragon but after making these buns I look at it differently. I was positively surprised how well the tarragon and sesame seeds go together and how the tarragon brings the sweetness of the whole grains even more. And the buns? Crunchy on the outside and soft inside. Perfection.

Left: tarragon in my herb garden. Right: chopping tarragon.

Whole grain wheat sourdough tarragon hamburger buns
Yields: 6 small buns/5 medium-sized buns/4 big buns

Baking schedule:
I prepared sourdough starter in the evening, left it ferment overnight, mixed the dough in the morning, left it ferment for 2 hours, shaped the buns and left them rise for another 1.5-2 hours.

Ingredients:
300 g whole grain wheat sourdough starter (100% hydration)
125 g whole grain wheat flour
125 g white wheat flour
150 g water or milk (I used milk)
8 g fine sea salt
1 tablespoon of chopped tarragon
sesame seeds for topping
10 ice cubes for creating steam during baking

Instructions:
1. In the evening, mix 150 g of whole grain wheat flour with 150 g of water and 1 heaping tablespoon of (active*) rye sourdough starter. Cover and let it ferment overnight until bubbly and doubled in volume.
* you could also use unfed sourdough starter directly from the fridge, it will work as well.

Left: Risen whole grain wheat sourdough starter in the morning ready to be mixed. Right: Mixed dough.

2. To prepare the dough, mix together all of the above well risen starter (300 g), 150 g of milk (or more if the dough feels stiff, depending on the whole grain flour you are using - add it later with the salt), and 250 g of flour. Mix until all ingredients come together. The dough should be soft to be able to knead it without any resistance. Cover the bowl with a cloth and let it sit for 1 hour. I like to place my dough into a warm place (i.e. slightly warm oven - between 23-25°C). A higher temperature will make your dough more alive and active. 

3. After 1 hour add 8 g of salt, chopped tarragon and knead the dough for couple of minutes until smooth. Let it rest again for 1 hour.

4. After 2 hours the dough should have risen for about a third of its initial volume and should feel alive and airy between your fingers. Take it out on the working surface, dust it with flour, turn it dusted side down, fold it over itself and shape a ball. Let it rest for 10 minutes.

5. Next, take your bench knife (or knife) and divide the dough into 5 (or 4 or 6) pieces. Shape each piece into a ball and put it on a floured parchment paper. 

6. Let the buns rise for 1.5-2 hours (or more, depending on how cold is your kitchen). Check if the buns are ready to be put in the oven by poking them with the finger. If they are ready, the indent should sprinkle back slowly. If they not ready, the indent will spring back quickly.

7. At least half an hour before the bake, preheat your baking stone to the maximum temperature of your oven.

Left: shaped buns. Roght: baked bun.

8. When ready, brush the buns with water, sprinkle them with sesame seeds, cut the parchment paper around each bun and transfer them to the baking stone. I use my pizza peel for this. Throw 10 ice cubes on a baking pan, close the door and lower the temperature to 235°C/455°F. Leave the loaf to bake for 25-30 minutes or until nicely brown. If necessary, turn the buns for couple of times to brown them evenly.

9. Leave to cool and then make your favorite hamburger. :)

How do you like your favorite hamburger?
Tell me in a comment below.

4 thoughts on “Whole grain wheat sourdough hamburger buns with tarragon

    1. Same here, Jameson! :) Thumbs up for the fermentation, I will definetly get more into wine, thanks for the inspiration ;)

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  2. Hi Natasha!

    Thank you for the recipe, it is wonderful and simple!
    One question though. Can you recommend anything to make the taste a bit less sour in the end?
    We are baking it in a large pod oven and have a dough proofer in case this matters.

    Thanks a ton in advance!
    Anna.

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