When you go to the trouble to find really great ground beef to make your own hamburgers, then it only makes sense to serve them on the best possible rolls. These rolls take the cake.

Makes 1 dozen

1/2 cup warm water

2 tablespoons or 2 packets dry yeast

1/4 cup organic sugar

1 cup organic milk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons kosher salt

5 cups unbleached organic white flour, plus extra flour for kneading and shaping the rolls

To finish the rolls:

1 egg white

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon water

1/4 cup poppy seeds or sesame seeds

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer or in a large mixing bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Allow the mixture to stand until the yeast is softened, about 5 minutes, then stir until the yeast is completely dissolved. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour and let the yeast mixture stand undisturbed while you prepare the milk mixture.

2. Warm the milk in a saucepan until it is steaming hot, but not boiling. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter, egg, and salt. The milk mixture should be warm to the touch, about the temperature of a baby's bottle. Whisk in 1 cup of the flour, then stir the warm milk mixture into the yeast mixture.

3. Stir in the remaining flour, one cup at a time to make a very soft dough. Use the dough hook on the mixer, or turn the dough out onto a well-floured countertop and knead the dough, pressing it and folding it until it is very springy, sprinkling on additional unbleached white flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking to the counter. Be careful not to add more flour than necessary or the dough will be stiff and the bread will be heavy.

4. Clean out the bowl in which the dough was mixed and rub the inside of the bowl with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Put the kneaded dough in the bowl and turn it over once so that the whole ball of dough is lightly coated with the oil. Cover the bowl with a damp, lint-free kitchen towel or with a piece of plastic wrap and put it in a warm place until the dough is doubled in size, about an hour.

5. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each piece of dough into a "rope," about 18 inches long. Working with one rope at a time, cut each one into 3 pieces (cut six pieces to make smaller Kaiser rolls) and tie each small rope into a knot, then tuck one of the loose ends of the rope into the center of the roll and one underneath. You should have round, crown-shape.

6. As the rolls are shaped, arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Allow them to rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 20 minutes.

7. While the rolls are rising, preheat oven to 350. Whisk together the egg white, sugar and water and brush the risen rolls with the egg wash then sprinkle them with sesame seeds. Bake the rolls until golden brown, about 15 minutes and cool on a rack.

I wish I could show you my technique for shaping the buns. The dough is fairly simple bread dough, but to get the shape right, I make a coil of dough and tie it in a knot tucking each end of the coil under to form a classic Kaiser shape. They're awesome.

Copyright Greg Atkinson, 2006


Makes about 1.5 quarts

5 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes (No. 2 tomatoes work well and they're less expensive; just ask the farmer)

1 cup white vinegar

2 tablespoon kosher salt

1 sachet containing: 1 cinnamon stick, 5 cloves, 4 bay leaves, 10 black peppercorns

2 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons turmeric

Splash of bourbon, optional

Core the tomatoes, but leave the pulp and seeds. Place tomatoes in a stockpot. Add water until the tomatoes are just covered. Add vinegar, kosher salt, spice sachet, and sugar. Stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium low and let simmer for about 1 hour. Just before removing from heat, stir in the turmeric.

Strain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid. Remove the sachet. Puree the tomatoes, in batches, if necessary, until smooth. If the consistency is too thick, add a little of the reserved liquid to loosen it. Taste for seasoning, adding a little salt and/or sugar as necessary to balance the flavor. Stir in the bourbon, if using. Place the ketchup in a large bowl and cover with cheesecloth. Set bowl in a warm place (about 75 to 80 degrees) for about 12 hours; this fermentation time will help develop the flavors.

Store ketchup in the refrigerator up to 1 month or divide into smaller portions and freeze.

Recipe by Maria Hines, Tilth Restaurant