Split-top buns without a special pan?

DH and I were going through photos of our trip to Portland, ME a couple of summers ago, and it got me craving lobster rolls on split top buns. I prefer these 1000-fold to regular buns - being able to butter and toast the sides just elevates any sandwich to another level.

Anyway, I have seen the special pan offered by KAF and others for making these, but I can’t help but think it’s unnecessary. All the pan does is slightly indent the bottom of your bread so you know where to slice to create individual buns, and I can figure that out myself with a ruler! It seems like any pan of the right depth and dimensions would work, or even a sheet pan if you were willing to trim the edges and put up with some variation in the thickness of the bread. Has anyone made these, and if so, do you use the special pan or rig up your own solution?

I would think you could use any loaf pan and get a similar result.

I’ve never made them, but I would guess that a longitudinal slice with a sharp lame/knife would give you a similar split or indent.

As I ponder this, I don’t think a loaf pan is the correct vessel unless you wanted REALLY tall rolls. I think an 8x8x2 brownie pan might work well. I am imagining [and just thinking out loud here] that you would divide your dough into 8 parts, form them into skinny batards after the first rise, place them in the pan, side by side, and let proof for the second rise. Before baking, using a lame or knife to create the split cutting down about 1/2". Not sure if an egg wash would be a good or bad thing. Bake until done, pull apart, open the roll after slicing, and enjoy.

Yes, I think you need something that is the right width, I think - 8" is somewhat long for a split-top hot dog bun but I’d say it’s the closest thing most people would have in their regular arsenal. I would guess you’d only want to do 5-6 buns, though, not 8 - I think they’d be way too skinny if you tried to fit 8 in an 8" pan! A 9x13 might work too - you could probably cut off a 2" wide strip from the long side and create two buns from that, then cut the rest crosswise.

Agreed - it probably isn’t the ideal vessel, though I’m not sure it would result in very tall rolls (unless you put in a lot of dough) as the pan size isn’t the major dictator of height.

Anyway - I do think a brownie pan (or the like) might be a better option dimension wise as you said.

Size hot dog buns also don’t really have a “crust” - you could probably search the grocery for a tinfoil/aluminum pan that was as close to what you wanted and fold/bend/adjust it to the appropriate size too. (or you could just make a foil “block” to put on one side of your brownie pan to adjust the dimensions as well).

It will take a little experimenting but you definitely shouldn’t need a dedicated pan for these.

You are correct that the height of the pan doesn’t determine the height of the buns, however, when the sides are too tall for the dough, my experience is that the dough steams as much as it bakes which changes the texture of the resulting baked bread. I might just have to do some experiments! This whole discussion has made me extremely curious.

Maybe one would just have to buy longer dogs or sausages? :slight_smile:

Interestingly enough, the special pan that KAF sells and the recipe that goes with it suggest that you should place a cookie sheet on top of the pan/dough before putting it in the oven, to control ovenspring and create the correct shape for the buns. Makes sense for the shape, but as you said the steam could be a factor in texture (negative or positive, I suppose). I would assume their recipe was designed for their pan both in quantity and texture…

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Making noodles. Phongdien Town, Cantho City, Southern Vietnam.
Credit: CiaoHo