Sourdough Pav, Burger bun and Pullman loaf, 3 in 1 recipe.

Sounds crazy, you would think-but if you can go pass that and when you do, here is what I have worked on and worked on and worked and ….you got the point, and now it is ready to share.

A ride back in time when I was kid, growing up in 80’s in Gujarat bread baking was a trade predominantly run by certain tribe. Majority of Gujaraties from previous generation do not regard bread as everyday necessity. It was considered western food for the longest time. Contrary to that general notion, we always had access to sliced bread, butter and jam at all times. Perhaps my dad’s stay in hostel (dorm) during his undergraduate studies and his work related travels had influenced lot of things we ate and had access to, growing up.

If I say I had very hard time finding the kind of bread we ate in India when I moved to US-you will probably not believe me. The quest ended when I pulled one of the square bread as shown below. The taste and texture from childhood. The kind of bread I remember having had assertive tang, not sweet and would hold itself when layered with chutney, ketchup and vegetables, grilled or not. Same goes for Pav and Burger bun. There  was really only one place, a very small cafe named as ‘hot dog’ in Baroda serving western style burger when I was in college. Without a doubt it used to be our favorite hangout place. Just like that there was a small cart on other side of the city serving vada pav, sort of traditional Indian burger. What made them unique was their pav (type of bread similar to dinner roll). All these things had one thing in common, right type of bread.

My goal here is to bake all of these types of bread mentioned above, naturally leavened using sourdough starter (mixture of flour and water), flour, milk, butter, salt and minimum sugar-pretty much everyday ingredients.

IMG_0080   IMG_9295


Here, without further due,

Sharing formula for 1000g total flour, it can be easily divided in half for single loaf and couple dinner rolls or fewer burger buns. Baker’s % are included considering total flour weight as 100%. This technique is loosely adopted from Martin Ivar, also knows as illebrod’s initial formula and modified for my liking for the final result, crumb, texture and taste preference.

Before you start,

I maintain my starter at 100% flour-water ratio, which is referred to as liquid leaven.

Test this formula using slightly lower hydration (milk/water) when first mixing with your flour and work your way up. Some flours can take less or more hydration. This hydration works for the flour type indicated here and have been tested several times.

I have tested this exact formula using 65% water and 10% grape-seed oil for vegan option and successfully got good result for rolls and buns. I have yet to try vegan pullman loaf. Let me know if you give it a go. Grape-seed oil is neutral tasting oil and works great for other baked goods as well.

Dough formula:

850g (85%) white flour (11.5 protein/my choice organic select artisan from king arthur flour)

150g (15%) bread flour (12-13 protein/my choice high Mountain from central milling)

700g (70%) whole milk (at room temperature)

100g (10%) unsalted butter  (melted and cooled-1 stick), use good quality european butter, Kerry gold or Plugra is my choice

40g (4%) granulated sugar

22g (2.2%) fine sea salt

200g (20%) sweet leaven

Elaborating sweet leaven, I have learned a lot of different avenues of sourdough baking, specially Pizza and brioche from Ian and continue to do so, he is popularly known within bread community community as APIECE. Ian knows the art and particularly science of sourdough baking like no one in my opinion. He is also very generous about sharing his knowledge, as well helps and guides newbies and sourdough enthusiastic alike. I learned basics of brioche dough from him, exclusively using starter.

The resulting leaven when mixed with sugar smells and taste like very ripe banana vs my regular leaven I use for mixing bread which has aroma of yogurt or cheese. These very quality also influences the final flavor, making sweet leaven desirable for enriched or brioche type of dough those leavened exclusively with starter. In my understanding and from having worked with this method in variety of enriched and brioche type of dough, sweet leaven works just like very popular method used at bakeries of combining sourdough starter and poolish (pre-ferment using commercial yeast) for both, taste and performance.

Sweet leaven formula:

35g active starter

17g granulated sugar

75g flour (50/50 ap/organic select artisan from KAF+type 85 from central milling)

75g h2o


Mix leaven 6-8 hr prior. I would mix leaven the night before at ambient temperature 68-70f and mix dough first thing in the morning.

Mixing: In the bowl of stand mixer, measure milk, sweet leaven, flour, salt, sugar and melted butter. Knead for 4-5 minutes, stop at mid way and scrap the bowl and knead for remaining time until the dough start to leave the side of the bowl, it may still be sticking at the bottom of the bowl.

Transfer the dough in to new food grade plastic or ceramic vessel, begin bulk fermentation, it will take 3-4 hr depending upon ambient temperature. Perform 2 set of stretch and fold at 1 hr interval to build further strength as well to ensure the dough temperature stays consistent throughout.

Refrigerate dough for at least 8-12 hrs before dividing. I have refrigerated up to 18-20 hrs without compromising the end result. It is very forgiving formula and made to work with life.

Dividing: From this point it can take direction to be Pav/dinner roll, Burger bun or Pullman loaf just by dividing in respected size and employing respective shaping method.

Next morning take the dough out of the refrigerator, work quickly at this point. I do not like to flour my work surface or dough at this point but if this dough is too sticky for you to work with go ahead and sprinkle some dry flour it won’t hurt my feelings.

For Pav/dinner rolls, divide in to 75g each, approx 27 pieces

For Burger bun, divide in to 100g, approx 25 pieces

For Pullman pan loaf or square sliced bread, divide 2-750 g loaf for a standard size pullman pan, I use American pan brand-they are well built and has non stick coating which ensures bread doesn’t stick when baked. You may have left-over dough for additional smaller loaf or it can be divided in to 5-burger bun or 7-dinner roll. Those little things sure comes in handy during school year for packing school lunch or easy week night dinner.

Shaping: Shaping dough for Pav and Burger bun is similar, tuck cut sides in and put seam side down on the work surface, use surface traction to create further tension on outer skin of the dough, it can be achieved while turning the dough on the board in circular motion and form tout skin on outside. The tout surface is very important to achieve even crumb and avoid big undesirable bubbles as dough proofs and bakes, as well as for final appearance of the burger bun. Who wants blob anyway.

For Pullman loaf evenly yet gently stretch the dough on the board in to a rectangular disc, fold two sides in the middle like a book-making sure the width matches the long side of the pullman pan or is slightly smaller than that. Roll like burrito and seal the last turn and transfer in to buttered pan seam side down. While try to shape it as evenly as possible know that this is very forgiving loaf as it is going to be baked in a pan.

Proof and Bake Pav/dinner rolls and Burger buns: My usual is shape the dough first thing next morning, place them on buttered or lined baking pan, loosely cover and watch them rise (not literally, basically keep close eyes) for 4-5 hrs while I work.

Arrange Pav/dinner rolls leaving approx 2 inch gap between them while arrange burger buns slightly far apart, leaving approximately 4-6 inches gap between them.  Preheat oven at 350- 15 minutes prior to end of the bulk and when it is ready to bake, brush them with heavy cream or melted room temperature butter-bake for 30 minutes or until the thermometer reads inside temperature of rolls/buns at 205f.

Once baked, brush them again with melted butter or heavy cream. At this point you can be creative and add garlic powder, herbs and parmesan cheese with melted butter for garlic pull apart buns. Sprinkle finely chopped parsley before serving-I think you got the idea.

Optional: For Burger buns I brush them with egg wash prior to baking and sprinkle sesame seeds for aesthetic.



Proof and Bake Pullman Loaf: Cover and let it proof good 5-6 hrs depending upon ambient temperature. When fully proofed the surface of the loaf will be well rounded/domed and almost risen up to 80% of the height of the pan. Preheat oven 350f prior to 15 minutes before the end of the bulk and bake for 40-45 minute with the lid on for square shaped loaf or w/o the lid if you like the rounded top.  Let it cool for 5-10 minutes before removing the lid, un mould it on wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing. Yeah, patience is virtue (read: torture).



I am off to experiment further with these formula to incorporate wholegrain and work with different grain/flour types but for now this shall do it. It pleases the crowd and kids, that was the only thing I ever wanted when I first began my journey with bread baking.

I hope you give this a try and let me know how yours turns out. I beg pardon for missing piece of information here and there if at all, and will be happy to answer if you have further question as you work at my level best. I have come to my sense that explaining how to bake bread is even more daunting than baking bread itself. Good luck and keep your hands in the dough, it’s the best way to learn.

Also, there is wonderful and generous baking community-find whose work speaks to you and reach out, I haven’t found single soul that is not equally passionate about sharing their knowledge as they are for their work. Respect and support your local baker-a lot goes in to baking bread with your hands. I sincerely hope you agree. With that said, be kind to yourself and have faith and enjoy the process.

Assembling veggie burger as shown: Arugula, Grilled masala veggie burger patty from Trader Joe’s, grilled onion, marinated heirloom tomato, roasted peppers, pickled jalapeño, avocado and ketchup-sriracha blend. No cheese for me but you can very well add one or two slice. And no burger is ever complete w/o side of chips and drink, don’t know about you but I like pickle too.

Happy baking and grilling this season and wish you sparkling July 4th everyone here in US.

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