Hamburger Rolls

Last weekend, we grilled the first hamburgers from our newly-joined meat CSA. They were most excellent accompanied by a little lettuce, tomato, and red onion on these rolls. I made everyone wait while I took a photo before we could eat. (This is just one of the ways I endlessly embarrass my daughter, who is convinced I lie awake at night plotting new ways to do this.)

The rolls are quite a bit more substantial than the squishy cottony ones that seem, unfortunately, to be standard cookout fare. With about 40% whole wheat flour, the crust is chewy-tender, the crumb soft but still hearty and flavorful. And they’re not just for burgers; they work for just about any sandwich. Sized a little smaller, they would also make fine dinner rolls.

The preferment in this recipe is prefermented dough (AKA “pâte fermentée” or “old dough”). This is essentially a simple white bread dough that has already undergone its first fermentation. You can make it from scratch, as described here, but if you have some extra dough left over from making French bread or pizza, go ahead and use that. Or, in a pinch, you can use store-bought dough (Trader Joes’ isn’t bad).

Soft Sandwich Rolls
(Adapted from SFBI)

Yield: 1000 g (10 hamburger-size rolls)


  • Mix/ferment the prefermented dough: 8 – 12 hours
  • Mix final dough: 10 minutes
  • First fermentation: 1 hour
  • Divide and shape: 5 minutes
  • Proof: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Bake: 18 minutes

Desired dough temperature: 76F

Prefermented Dough Ingredients:

  • 171 g flour
  • 111 g water
  • 1 g (1/3 t.) instant yeast
  • 3.4 g (9/16 t.) salt

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 164 g flour
  • 246 g whole wheat flour
  • 110 g (approximately) lukewarm water
  • 4.1 g (1-1/3 t.) instant yeast
  • 8.2 g (1-3/8 t.) salt
  • 100 g (2 whole) egg
  • 42 g vegetable oil
  • 20 g sugar
  • 29 g molasses or brown rice syrup
  • 286 g (all of the above) prefermented dough


Prefermented Dough:

  1. Mix all of the prefermented dough ingredients by hand for a few minutes until the dough is smooth.
  2. Cover and ferment for 1 hour at room temperature, then place in the refrigerator overnight.


  1. Cut the prefermented dough into about six pieces and add them to the bowl of a stand mixer with all of the other final dough ingredients (except reserving about 20% of the water).
  2. Mix on low speed until the ingredients are incorporated, about 4 minutes. Add water as needed to give the dough a medium-soft consistency.
  3. Continue mixing in medium speed until the gluten has reached full development (check this with the windowpane test).
  4. Ferment the dough at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. Divide the dough into ten pieces of approximately 100 g each.
  6. Press each piece firmly to degas it, then shape into a tight ball. The easiest way to do this is to tuck the edges of the degassed dough under, pinch the seam closed, and cup your hand over the dough while rolling it in a circle against the unfloured countertop.
  7. Roll the top of the ball on a wet towel to moisten it, then in sesame seeds.
  8. Place the rolls on two parchment-lined baking sheets and press them down into discs with the palm of your hand.
  9. Cover the sheets and proof the rolls at room temperature for about 1.5 – 2 hours, until the dough springs back very slowly when pressed with a fingertip.
  10. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 380F. If your oven has a convection setting, use it (otherwise you may need to rotate the sheets halfway through baking to ensure even browning). You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  11. Bake for 8 minutes with steam, and another 8 – 10 minutes without steam, until the rolls are nicely browned.
  12. Cool on a wire rack.

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    That’s a neat looking csa your a part of, I’ll bet what you get is delicious. I like the look of those buns. I imagine I’d be a hit around here if I tried those out. And grilled hamburgers. Hmm…

  2. says

    Now I can see these are ‘just’ buns. I’ve tried making buns. I’m always disappointed.
    These look so very good! So very good Susan.
    I also really appreciate how your daughter feels. My boys felt the same for so long, I think they’re about over it.

  3. says

    I was just looking through the King Arthur Flour catalog, and I told my husband I wanted the hamburger and hot dog roll pans. I guess I don’t *really* need the pan…haha! Your rolls look so beautiful!

  4. Trish says

    Good to see a post from you Susan! We are having a father’s day cook-out (if the weather here in the midwest cooperates! – we may be working on an ark instead of cooking…). I think I will give these a try for our burgers. Any ideas on shaping hot dog or brat buns would be great future topic for the summer time.


  5. Patsy says

    Susan, everything you make looks so perfect!
    I was surprised to see that you recommend convection for baking your rolls. Since I got a convection oven I have had major problems especially baking lean doughs which are supposed to have a good crust. The fan seems to evacuate the steam and set the crust too soon & really reduces oven spring. I found a partial solution on a YouTube blog – an Australian named Dom suggested preheating the oven & baking stone as high as the oven will go, then putting in the bread & boiling water & turning the oven off for ten minutes, Then turning it back on at the recommended temperature to complete baking. I’ve tried this and it really has helped.
    If you use a convection oven, you have obviously found a much more successful solution to this problem – your crusts & oven spring look spectacular. Do you have any other suggestions?

  6. says

    Wow, now that bun makes me hungry for a hamburger!
    Amusing story about your daughter’s embarrassment. But one day she’ll be proud not only of her mother’s baking skills, but also her professional and enjoyable blog.

  7. says

    I didn’t think hamburger buns could look so pretty, Susan! Seriously. It’s funny, but hamburger buns are one of those things that I never thought of as “home made,” ya know? Thanks for showing me how wrong I was!

  8. Patsy says

    Hi, again Susan. I found a partial answer to my question about convection in your chapter on steam – a very nice solution to the nerve wracking manoeuvre of moving the huge La Cloche dome heated to 450F! I am new to your blog & keep finding gems.
    I would still like any ideas you have for using convection for bread. My oven has two fan speeds but no “off”

  9. says

    rainbowbrown, we’ve only had one delivery of meat so far. Of that, we’ve eaten the ground beef and the goat leg, both very good! It’s so nice to know where the meat is coming from.

    Tanna, thanks for the reminder that they do get over this!

    Angelica, I hope you had a delicious dinner. Welcome to my blog!

    Dawn, those catalogs are very seductive, aren’t they?

    Jeremy, thanks!

    Trish, I’ll be thinking good weather thoughts for you and hope you have a lovely weekend.

    Patsy, I generally don’t use convection because of the drying effect that you mentioned. For these rolls I used it because only a little steam is required, and because I wanted to bake both sheets at once without having to rotate the pans. Unfortunately I don’t have the experience to advise you on using convection for lean breads, but maybe someone else can chime in here with some tips.

    Astrid, thank you!

    Susan from FB, I know what you mean, I did think of hamburger buns as always coming in a bag of six until I made them in a class. I hope you try them!

    Nicole, have a wonderful meal tomorrow!

    farida, I like sesame seeds too, but for those who don’t you could leave them off some of the rolls, or use poppy seeds.

    Laura, try making a dome over the dough with one hand and rolling it in a circular motion against the counter — not pressing on the dough but more like just enclosing it. Makes a very nice round roll — 100 g is about the upper limit of what you can do with this method, though.

  10. says

    Those look EXACTLY like the kind of hamburger buns I would love. (I can’t stand the store-bought cotton-batten-style buns)

    Many thanks for posting your recipe, Susan. Very interesting that it has eggs in it.

    (Heeheeheh, I particularly like that you have posted only weights in the recipe to force me to get out my scale. :-))

  11. bakerincanada says

    Hi Susan great looking buns. Tis the season and I’d like to try your recipe. Tell me please what type of flour are you using A.P. or bread flour. I have made buns actually using soft whole wheat flour. They turn out well. Thanks.

  12. says

    Elizabeth, the eggs help give the buns a tender crumb. Now get out that scale! :)

    bakerincanada, I look for flour of around 11.5% protein, ground from hard winter wheat. Most “AP” flours are lower in protein and have some soft wheat. Many “bread” flours are too high in protein and have some spring wheat. One US national brand that fills the bill is Gold Medal Harvest King (also marketed as “Better for Bread”). I’m not sure if this is available in Canada. I plan to do a post on flour soon.

  13. says

    WOW! What a beautiful photo of a burger. My wife and I are true burger aficionados. We especially love burgers made with ground bison, but we have never attempted to make our own buns.

    Sometimes, we actually complain about the “buns” that we purchase at our local bakery. Now we have NO reason to complain! LOL

    Thanks for the wonderful post and the photos.


  14. says

    Just a note about all-purpose flour in Canada: I think all-purpose flour might be a little different than it is in USA. I use “no-name” (Loblaws) all-purpose flour for just about all of my bread. It is around 11.5% protein and produces excellent bread.

    “Best for bread” flour is available as well. I think “Robin Hood” uses that label. “5 Roses” is another good Canadian brand of flour. I use one of those (whichever is less expensive) to make bagels which neeeeeed strong flour.

    Soft flour is sold as “cake and pastry” flour.


    (I’m hanging my head in shame; I haven’t yet got my scale out – time constraint is my excuse – but next week, I’ll get the scale out next week!!)

  15. Derrick says

    Ok. I absolutely love this recipe. Part of my time as a novice baker has been searching for 2 “Grails”: the perfect baguette and the perfect hamburger/sandwich roll. I can stop my search for the second. It is, without a doubt, the best burger bun recipe I have made. Thanks so much.

  16. says

    I just made a batch of your recipe, will Let you know how they will come out. I am going to use the convection setting.

    I have a question for you about the temp after you take the steaming tray out of the oven, do you keep the same temp??

  17. stefan bert says

    Excellent buns Susan!
    I baked them today with prefermented dough from Fromartz’s baguette recipe. Great results, thanks. Certainly a keeper.

  18. says

    This recipe is brilliant ! I have made them very successfully following your recipe exactly and have added hamburgers to the menu in my little country hotel in central Spain.
    thanks very much.
    all the best

  19. says

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  20. Thomi says

    So good. Made today and paired with vegan sloppy joe’s. Nice combo. Will try extras with sandwich fixings tomorrow. Thank you! Every other recipe I have tried for rolls has been too heavy. These were perfect.

  21. Fred says

    Thank you for the recipe

    I made these today
    Perhaps the best buns ever
    Changed the recipe by using a little sourdough starter
    in the preferment and using all organic ingredients.
    The mixing and kneading was done by hand and the
    resulting bun was wonderfully light and delicious.

    Pulled them from the oven, sliced them open
    and built the burgers.

    Gonna do it again tomorrow :-)


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