mountain fermenters Fermented bunsColumns Food & Drink 

The Buns of Summer

Part 3 in the Mountain Fermenters series on summer cooking

By Greg Roe and Mike De Smidt

In the last two installments of our summer series, we discussed the perfect summer beer and fermented condiments. In this 3rd installment, we’ll discuss how to make your own fermented sourdough hamburger and hot dog buns for your summer feasts..

The most important component of sourdough is the starter – a fairly simple thing, just flour, water, and a combination of yeast and good bacteria. There are places famous for their sourdough culture, such as San Francisco, but we’ve made excellent starters using our local SLV microflora and fauna.

To create a starter, grab a mason jar, add roughly equal parts flour and water, mix until you get a thick porridge-like texture, and loosely cover with a paper towel. Let this sit somewhere out of direct sunlight but somewhere with airflow. The idea being that you have created food for the yeast and bacteria that are already all around us. This may take several days, but eventually, you should see some bubbling activity. Once you see activity, begin “feeding” the starter. Discard a portion and add back enough flour and water to get that initial consistency. Let it sit at room temperature for a day or two until the fermentation activity has settled down, then repeat. After several feedings like this, your starter should be in a state where there are enough viable yeast and bacteria cells to use as your leaven. Note: The starter, especially once fermentation has subsided, will definitely smell “funky,” but should not smell bad. Anything that smells truly awful may have been contaminated with dangerous bacteria and should not be used.

Now we’re ready to make some buns! A starter will be of best use about 6-12 hours after being fed when fermentation activity is peaking. When it is hot outside and in your home, fermentation will be quicker. The opposite when it’s cold. You want those critters to be nice and active when using them to bake. Remember to have a glass of that earlier-discussed kölsch while you do all of this!

Sourdough Hamburger Buns


¾ cup sourdough starter

¾ cup warm water (or warm kölsch)

1 teaspoon of active dry yeast


2 ¼ cups of all purpose flour

2 tbsp dry milk

1 ½ tsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp softened unsalted butter

Mix the (A) ingredients for a minute or two, then add in the combined (B) ingredients and mix for several minutes. Add in the butter and knead for a further 10 minutes. Cover and let rest for 4 hours in a warm place, stretch and fold every hour to de-gas and develop the gluten. Stretch out on a floured surface and divide into 6 equal pieces, shaping them into tight balls then pressing gently to slightly flatten them out on a lightly greased baking sheet. Cover and let rest for 4 hours in a warm place. Preheat the oven to 375F. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with toppings of your choosing (sesame seeds, for example). Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Sourdough Hot Dog Buns

Ideally, you have a hot dog bun tray (available online).

½ cup sourdough starter

1 cup warm water (or warm kölsch)

1 teaspoon of active dry yeast

2 ½ cups of all purpose flour

¼ cup dry milk

1 ½ tsp salt

2 tbsp sugar

4 tbsp softened unsalted butter

Combine and mix all ingredients for several minutes until you have a soft, smooth dough. Cover and let rise in a lightly greased bowl for 2 hours or until doubled in size. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is around 6” wide by 12” long. Place the dough into the hot dog tray and stretch to fit. Cover a greased baking sheet and cover the tray. Preheat the oven to 350F. Once you put the tray with cover in the oven, add some weight on top of the covering baking sheet. A cast iron pan works well. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool out of the tray until cool to the touch. Slice along the middle and have at it.

Ben Lomond local, Mike De Smidt has been home brewing for 12 years and is a BJCP Certified Beer Judge.

Greg Roe is a Felton local who has been a home brewer for 20 years and is a self proclaimed
Fermentation Geek.

Featured photo by Viraj Bhalani

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