My eldest daughter has been boycotting junk food lately. (That's anything fast food.) Good for her. I need to get myself back into planning ahead gear anyway. She was so impressed with the elk burgers I put together while visiting her Nana's house last month (my dad is a bow hunter and that is their main source of meat for the year), that she requested hamburgers only if I made them at home. So I grabbed a pound of grassfed burger at Whole Foods and decided to adapt my favorite burger bun recipe to spelt flour. They worked great and got the stamp of approval from hubby. So now I have that option for the future. A little kamut in the mix helps the elasticity of the dough. These buns have a tender crumb while still being quite sturdy. They will hold up to a juicy burger with tons of condiments. I recommend brushing the tops with butter when they come out of the oven to make them nice and soft.
Spelt Hamburger Buns
Makes 8 buns
¾ cup lukewarm water (potato water if you happen to have some on hand)
2 Tbsp softened butter1 medium egg
3 cups white spelt flour
½ cup kamut flour
¼ cup sugar
1 ¼ tsp sea salt
1½ tsp dried onion flakes
1 Tbsp Instant Yeast
Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients - by hand, mixer, or bread machine - for about 7 minutes until smooth and elastic. Dough will be fairly firm. Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1½ hours, or until it is doubled in bulk. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round 1" thick (more or less); flatten to about 3" across. Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment lined baking sheet, cover and let rise for about an hour, until very puffy. Bake the buns in a preheated 375°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden. Brush with extra butter while still warm for a nice soft crust. Cool on a rack. These buns freeze exceptionally well.
Now for some juicy burger tip(s). Of course there is nothing quite as flavorful as a burger made with 15-20% fat. But if you are using a low fat grind such as a 93-98% fat free beef or a buffalo or elk/venison burger, here is something you can do to make them juicier when you grill. Number one, when shaping the burgers handle the meat as lightly as possible. Pull the ground meat into bits and toss in the desired seasoning but don't squish and squeeze or over-work the meat or your burger will shrink and be tough. I like to add a sprinkle of steak seasoning to my burgers and sometimes dried onion flakes. That's it for seasonings. The other trick? Add water. Yes, water. For two pounds of ground elk, I added probably more than half a cup. Lightly toss it in, just like for a pie crust. For a lowfat beef grind, I might start with 2 tbsp water per pound though I tend to end up using at least ¼ cup. Then gently form the patties (stick your thumb in the center to leave a dent - it will help hold the shape) and get yourself to a grill. ☺ Once at the grill, find a good place for your patties, get them on the heat and walk away for 5 minutes. Don't fiddle and mash the burgers with a spatula, that pushes any juice and flavor right out and into the coals. Flip them and walk away again, adjust their location if necessary for even browning. Try not to keep flipping over and over. When they are done, they should have that nice lightly caramelized crust and good grill marks.
Happy Spring, go forth and grill!