I've been wanting to try making my own for quite awhile now, so when I saw Mother Earth News had a recipe I was excited to try it.
I've never made something that required a sponge before, but it wasn't hard at all. I made the sponge last night:
1 Cup warm milk
4tbs unsalted butter (I just realized I used salted- hopefully mine don't turn out too salty)
3/4 C whole wheat flour
1 C all purpose flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
2 TBSP potato flour (or instant potato buds- I used the potato pearls and so far so good)
1/4 C dry milk
3 TBSP bread improver (I assumed that this meant wheat gluten, but who knows)
If you don't add the optional things, add an extra 1/4 to 1/2 C flour
Cover with plastic wrap and a towel and let sit overnight or at least 2 hours.
In the morning, comine 1/4 C warm water and 2 tsp instant yeast. Add mixture to sponge, and stir in with a spoon (I tried my mixer and spilled yeasty water all over), then add 1 1/4 C flour, 2 TBSP sugar, and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Knead by hand, or in a mixer for about 10 minutes (longer if by hand) until dough is soft and smooth. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and a towel and raise for 1 hour. Pour out onto lightly floured surface, and divide into 6 balls. Place balls on a lightly greased bun pan, cover with greased plastic wrap and a towel and rest for 10 minutes. Remove towel (not plastic wrap) and flatten balls with your palm. Replace towel and raise for about an hour. Bake in preheated 375 F oven for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Makes 6 buns.
Review: The buns are good. They have a light flavor that won't fight with hamburgers and ketchup. I would make 8 or 10 buns out of the amount of dough one batch makes- they turned out huge. I think I'd also use a big flat plate to flatten the dough with since my hand wasn't terribly even. I think I'll make them again, but they are kind of a lot of work (not really any more than any good roll/bread recipe, but we're talking hamburgers here) so I probably won't make them often. We don't eat hamburgers very often anyway. Tripling the batch worked great- and the dough was a beautiful dough. I'm not sure if that's what dough made with sponge is always like, but I'll definitely have to try other sponge recipes.