When a hamburger with a black bun was introduced in Japan by a fast food restaurant last year, it was an instant hit. Still, I was surprised when the novelty burger hit the American market just in time for Halloween this year and even more surprised when it got some unintended press. I won’t go into it here, but apparently the dye used for the US market sticks around for a while after you’ve finished lunch. If you haven’t heard the ruckus, go google “black hamburger bun.” Weird, huh?
I still wanted a black hamburger bun for Halloween, so we made our own. A little reading revealed that last year’s Japanese version of the black bun didn’t use food dye at all. The black was produced using “takesumi,” which is a cooler way of saying bamboo charcoal.
Sometimes used to purify drinking water, it is also popular in Japan as a food additive and detoxifying supplement. So, it’s good for me and it will make my hamburger buns black? I’m sold.
I couldn’t find any takesumi at my local Asian market, but I was able to get it through Amazon for about eight bucks.
Using bamboo charcoal to make these Halloween buns couldn’t have been easier. Using a standard hamburger bun recipe, I stirred a little of the flavorless bamboo charcoal into the water before making the dough. Topped with sesame seeds, my plain old burger bun introduced a healthy dose of black and white into my technicolor lunch.
The restaurant version of this burger takes the theme a little further with black ketchup and black cheese, but I skipped that bit of business. Throw in some Halloween mac and cheese and a handful of DIY candy corn and our homemade Halloween lunch is served.
Black Hamburger Buns Recipe
3/4-1 C warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons bamboo charcoal
3 cups flour
1 egg (+1 egg for wash)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
Mix 3/4 water and sugar in a small bowl.
Add yeast to water.
Stir in bamboo charcoal.
Combine water blend with flour, 1 egg, butter and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with dough hook until pliable dough forms (if dough doesn’t come together, add a little water until it does).
Place a ball of dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until about doubled in size (60-90 minutes).
Divide into 8 pieces and roll into balls.
Arrange on a greased baking sheet and flatten to a burger-sized diameter.
Let rise for 60 minutes until puffy and rounded.
Whisk together an egg with a teaspoon of water and brush buns with resulting egg wash.
Sprinkle buns with sesame seeds (about 1/2 teaspoon per bun).
Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-18 minutes.
Transfer to wire rack to cool.