New England Hot Dog Buns are a classic for a reason. Not just because they are absolutely scrumptious when stuffed with buttery lobster, although that certainly helps. The addition of milk powder makes the dough uniquely soft and delicious, and the straight sides are fantastic when toasted, and crunchy, and golden brown!
New England Hot Dog Buns (or New England top split hot dog rolls) are my favorite type of hot dog bun! Hands down. I went sampling these (in the form of lobster rolls) between Boston and Bangor, Maine (and even in the upper Midwest) when I visited the region last year, and this series of posts starting today, has been a while in the making. 🙂 It may be the dead of winter right now, but a warm, toasty, buttered, scrumptious lobster roll has timeless appeal and isn’t bound by seasonal trends and constraints!
But today’s post isn’t about the mighty Maine lobster roll. That’ll be next week. 🙂 Today, I’m sharing with you guys the recipe for New England Hot Dog Buns – the perfect vehicle for such delights as lobster rolls and fried clam rolls.
What I love about New England hot dog buns…
Is how you have to toast the sides with butter till they are nice and toasty and buttery and golden brown… yum! This makes the buns extra buttery, with a delightful crunch on the outside, and delightfully soft and milky on the inside.
I’ve previously shared this classic hot dog bun recipe that’s also really popular on my blog. That recipe does also work for these New England hot dog buns. However, today’s recipe is different in that the dough has a little more butter, and also includes milk powder, making it more tender with a hint of milkiness.
To make these lobster roll buns you will need a specialty pan to get those flat sides. I bought mine on Amazon. You could make your own tray with foil. But honestly, you could bake the buns really close together on a regular baking tray and still get those soft sides. The sides may not be as straight then, since the buns will expand sideways too, but they’ll be just as soft and delicious.
Making the dough for these New England hot dog buns is easy, because you can mix it all in your stand mixer. This is how I make it every time. However, if you’re not sure whether your active dry yeast is fresh, I highly recommend activating your yeast before adding the other ingredients into the mixer bowl.
How to activate yeast
Place the lukewarm water in the mixing bowl with a little of the sugar, and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Then mix it in just a little with a spoon or fork, and let it activate for about 15 minutes. Since I keep my yeast in the freezer, it takes a little bit longer for the yeast to activate. But eventually, you should see your yeast activating and forming a foamy, bubbly surface on water. This way you know your yeast is alive and well, and you that you can make perfect hot dog buns with it!
These lobster roll buns have the best flavor if the dough has been refrigerated overnight, allowing for a slow rise. Not only does this develop better flavor for the dough, it also makes it easy to handle the dough the next day. It’ll be a slightly sticky and soft dough, so it’s much easier to handle when chilled.
BUT, if you don’t have time to chill the dough overnight, that’s OK too. You can still make these the same day. Just let the dough rise (proof), at room temperature for about 1 hour (until it expands to about 1.5 – 2 times the original volume). Then press air out of the dough, and proceed with shaping it into hog dog buns.
How to shape New England hot dog buns (New England top split buns)
I shape these the same way I shape regular hot dog buns. I portion the dough into 10 equal pieces, then roll out each piece to form a rectangle (width will be a little less than that of the pan). Then tightly roll up the dough, fold and seal the edges, and then transfer them to the pan. This ensures beautiful, light, fluffy rolls that are evenly shaped.
Substitutes for some key ingredients
If you don’t have milk powder, you’re welcome to simply leave it out of the recipe. I do recommend it however. The addition of milk powder tenderizes the bread, resulting in a soft, delicious, almost milky flavor.
If you don’t like to use butter, you can substitute it with oil.
You can use bread flour, in place of AP flour. But you may need to add a little extra water or milk to get the same consistency then. But even with AP flour, you may need to adjust how much liquid you add, because this tends to change with the weather. The right consistency here is when the dough still sticks to the bottom of the bowl while it’s being kneaded, before the addition of butter. If the dough comes off the sides and the bottom, then you’ll need to add a little water (a teaspoon at a time), until you reach the desired consistency.
However, if there’s too much water and the dough is too sticky, then add just a little flour (a teaspoon at a time). Do this until the right consistency is achieved.
These New England hot dog buns (lobster roll buns) are a clear cut above the rest. Their uniquely soft sides makes them that much more delicious. And of course, they make the best lobster rolls ever!
So go ahead and get yourself a New England hot dog roll pan and give this recipe a try! And if you don’t have one, just use the recipe to make the BEST regular hot dog buns instead! You’ll never want anything to do with store-bought hot dog buns ever again. 🙂
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TOOLS YOU NEED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE
New England hot dog pan – This is essential to make these buns. They help give these buns the characteristic soft sides New England hot dog buns are known for.
Stand Mixer – I use a Kitchen Aid mixer, but any hardy stand mixer will make this process easier for you.
Pastry Brushes – I used this for all my pastry making. It’s great to smoothly apply that egg wash over the top of the buns.
New England Hot Dog Buns
- 17.6 oz AP flour
- ¼ cup milk powder non-fat or full cream is OK
- ½ cup warm milk
- ½ cup warm water, plus an extra 1/4 cup of warm water if needed
- 2 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 egg
- 4 tbsp softened butter or 3 tbsp oil
- Extra oil to lightly oil the bowl
- 1 egg for the egg wash
In the mixing bowl of your stand mixer - combine the flour, milk powder, yeast, sugar and salt. (See recipe notes on how to activate the yeast, if you’re not sure your yeast is “alive” or fresh).
In another small bowl - whisk together the water, milk and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
With the paddle attachment or dough attachment in your stand mixer - mix the dry and wet ingredients until combined.
- Switch to the dough hook of your stand mixer, and knead the dough to bring it together. Add more water if the dough is too dry. The dough should come off the sides, but stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl. Knead for about 5 minutes, until you have a smooth ball of dough.
Add the oil (or butter), a little at a time, and knead for a further 5-10 minutes (I knead it for about 8 minutes), until the dough is shiny, smooth and tacky to the touch.
- Lightly oil a big bowl and place the dough in it. Make sure the dough is lightly oiled on the surface of the dough as well.
For best results and flavor, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge overnight (8 hours) or for up to 24 hours. If you want to bake the hot dogs on the same day, you can cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise for 1 hour in a warm place, until it has doubled in size.
On the day you bake the bread rolls - turn the chilled dough out on to a lightly floured surface and lightly dust the surface of the dough with flour as well. If the dough wasn't chilled (and was only proofed for 1 hour at room temperature), you may need to press the dough to remove some of the air and you may need extra flour on your hands and on your work surface to prevent the dough from sticking as well.
SHAPING AND BAKING HOT DOG BUNS
Brush a New England hot dog pan with butter, and set aside.
Cut the dough into 10 equal sections. I weigh the dough, and then cut it into 10 equal portions.
Roll out each portion into a flattened piece of dough that's a little less than the width of the pan - about 4 inches wide and 5 to 6 inches long. Then TIGHTLY roll up the shorter side to form a tube/sausage shape. The ends of this will be tapered out and longer than the width of the pan. Pinch the seam to seal, and then tuck in the sides, and pinch those to seal as well. All the sealed edges should be on the same side of the dough, so that the other side has a smooth surface.
Place the rolled up dough in the prepared pan. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Make sure all the rolls are similar-sized.
Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let the dough portions rise for about 45 min in a warm place, until the rolls almost reach the edges of the pan. In the winter, this can take a little longer than 45 min, and on very hot summer days, it could take less than 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C, about 30 minutes prior to baking.
For the egg wash - break an egg into a small bowl and whisk gently. Brush the hot dog rolls with the egg wash and bake them in the preheated oven until they are golden brown on top and sounds hollow when tapped. This should take about 15-20 mins.
Remove from the oven and let the buns cool down enough to be handled comfortably. Carefully remove the buns from the pan, and store them in an air-tight container until ready to be used. You can gently pull the buns apart before storing them. Best eaten on the same day. Keep them at room temperature for a few days, OR freeze them for later.
PREPARING THE BUNS FOR HOT DOGS
Spread softened butter on the two soft sides of the bun. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, toast each buttered side of the bun until golden brown. This can take between 2-4 minutes per side.
Using a bread knife, carefully cut long the top of the bun to create a split top bun. The buns are now ready to be used.
If you're not sure your yeast is fresh or active, you can do the following.
- Place the 1/2 cup of warm water in the mixing bowl, and add 1 tbsp of sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over this and let it rest for about 15 minutes. After 15 minutes the yeast should be activated, and look frothy and bubbly on the surface.
- Then add the flour, milk powder, rest of the sugar, salt, milk and egg mixture into the same bowl, and mix to combine. Proceed from step 3.
You can also use my recipe for REGULAR HOT DOG BUNS to make this as well. It's less sticky than this recipe. Still soft, but less buttery and doesn't use milk powder.