How To Form Hot Dog Buns

It’s summer which means it’s time to grill!

Who am I kidding, we live in Wisconsin, we grill when it’s 20 below and snowing!  The warm weather just means you don’t need to wear a coat while standing at the grill.  Brats are the grilled fare of choice here in Wisconsin, which of course means you need buns.

Even after I started making my own hamburger buns and attempted to swear off store-bought bread altogether I found myself still buying hot dog buns.  My attempts at homemade always looked, well, just plain bad.  They tasted fine in and of themselves, but it’s hard to eat a brat or hot dog when the bun bulges in one area with hardly enough to surround the meat in another.  Not to mention the two inches of excess bun on the end.

If you read my post where I shared THE Bun Recipe I said I was working on some ideas on how to make hot dog buns that don’t look wonky.  Well, after a few tries I think I found a pretty easy method.  Rather than rolling it play-dough style into a lumpy snake with tapered ends, I took some cues from a few batches of french breads and cinnamon rolls and flattened my dough before rolling my dough up cinnamon-roll style.  However, rolling them out one by one would still lead to some unevenness and tapered ends, and I was looking for a result that was consistent and could be easily replicated, and here it is!

Use your favorite recipe for making soft bread, buns, or rolls.  I, of course, use my bun recipe but most any bread recipe should yield similar results.

Make your dough according to the directions through the first rise (or a full dough cycle on the bread machine).  Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it in two.  I make so much bread that I invested (less than $5) in a dough scraper.  It makes cutting dough and cleaning up the counter so much easier.

You’ll be working with half the dough at a time, so set one half aside for now.

I couldn’t fathom ever getting my dough to flatten into a super long, thin rectangle that would roll into an appropriate thickness for hot dog buns, so here is my solution:

Using a combination of gently rolling and stretching, maneuver the dough into a 8 x 18 inch rectangle.  Try to get the thickness as even as possible.

Find the middle (as measured the short way) and give it a light score. Yes, you could probably cut the dough in half at this point, but I feel like having all the dough in one piece makes it easier to get a good, tight roll.  You could just eyeball it as you roll, it’s up to you, but it’s nice to have a reference point when you’re rolling so both sides end up roughly the same size.

Tightly roll both sides to the center, stopping just short of your score lines.

Now cut along your score line using your dough scraper or a knife to separate the two tubes of dough.  If using a knife avoid sawing through it – try to press straight down.

Now dip your finger in a little water and wet the open end of each tube, then crimp and seal the edges shut.

Slice your tubes of dough into three equal sections.  Again, no sawing, press straight down. If the very ends are too tapered or flared for your liking you can trim a little off, if you want.

Place them on your prepared baking sheet, an inch or so apart, seam side down.

Repeat the process with the second half of the dough if you want a dozen hot dog buns.  I made hamburger buns out of my other half, though.

Cover them with a kitchen towel and set them in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Here they are, risen and ready to go into the oven:

Then bake them according to your recipe’s directions.

Here they are, golden and delicious:

Keep in mind I never promised perfection, I simply promised they wouldn’t look wonky!

The little one on the far end is a good size for the toddler, the giant one on the near side will end up as a sandwich, and the four in the middle made perfect brat buns!

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