Hamburgers are undoubtedly one of the ultimate fast foods.  At the cheap end they comprise of basically three flavorless disks, held together with some or other sticky sauce.  And on the other extreme, every celebrity chef has his take on the ultimate burger.  In our cookbook of the week,   Hawksmoor at home, six pages are dedicated to making the perfect burger, including making your very own rolls. This is truly giving fast food the Slow Food treatment.

As one of the owners, Will Beckett, puts it, When we devised our burger we tried every ingredient option possible and dozens of different buns. We think a slight sweetness is good which is one of the reasons we opted for a demi-brioche. Then comes the cheese.  We tried it with everything we could think of. But the meat is the most crucial choice. To stand up to all the other flavours going on, you need to have good beef with good flavour.

The burgers are rich, moist and pink with the tastiest juices dripping from the great layer of meat into the soft, sweet and bouncy brioche. The cheese, perfect for melting with a rich, fruity finish. The lettuce gives the whole thing just the right amount of crunch and both the onion and the cucumber add a lovely bite of acidity.

For the meat they use a 80:20 ratio of meat to fat, 10 of which is bone marrow. Here are some of the basics, for the rest you’re just have to improvise, or purchased the book.

Brioche Buns

50g Custard Powder
550ml milk
25g unsalted butter
2t sugar
750g strong white flour
1 sachet of instant dry yeast
2t salt
A beaten egg for glazing

  • Whisk the custard powder into the milk and pour into a saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Remove from the heat, stir in the butter and sugar until melted, then pour into a mixing bowl and leave until barely warm. Add the flour, yeast and salt, mix well and leave for 10 minutes. On a lightly oiled surface, lightly knead the dough until smooth, then return it to the bowl and leave covered for an hour and a half.
  • Divide the dough into pieces (about 200g) and using a little flour, shape them into balls. Place them on a lined baking tray and flatten slightly with a rolling pin. Cover and leave to rise for about an hour or until they have doubled in size.
  • Finally, brush the buns with beaten egg and bake at 200°C  for about 20 minutes until lightly goldne. Leave to cool before using.

Pickled cucumber

Slice a cucumber and cover with salt. Leave to sit for 20 mins so that the cucumber absorbs the salt. Wash off the salt under cold water. Return the cucumber to a bowl and add white wine vinegar and chopped ginger. Marinade for as long as you have (preferably a couple of hours).


1kg beef cuts minced coarsely (rib-eye or preferably a mix of meat cuts)

100g fat minced coarsely

100g bone marrow minced coarsely

  • Mix the meat and the fat/marrow thoroughly and divide into 8. Shape them into patties, pressing the meat together firmly. Make a slight hollow in the centre of the burger with your thumb to stop it from rising. Season the patties with sea salt and pepper. Preheat the griddle pan over a high heat until almost smoking. Lay the burgers on the griddle and cook for 2 minutes, then turn continuing to cook them for another 2 minutes. Flip and repeat until they are charred, ensuring you get a nice pink interior.

To assemble

8 slices cheese



Tomato sauce

8 leaves oflettuce

8 slice of red onion

  • Preheat the grill to melt the cheese. Whilst the burger is still in the griddle, add slices of cheese to the top then place the whole pan under the grill to melt the cheese for a couple of seconds. Remove the burgers from the pan and allow them to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Assemble your burger by toasting the brioche buns.
  • Spread the bottom with a mix of mustard and mayonnaise and the top half with ketchup.
  • Place a couple of slices of lettuce, a slice of red onion and a few slices of cucumber on the bottom half, top with the burger and finish with the top half.

Makes 8

Wickedfood Cooking School runs cooking classes throughout the year at its purpose-built Johannesburg cooking studio. Cookery classes are run in the mornings and evenings 7 days a week (subject to a minimum of 12 people). The venue is also popular for corporate events and private functions – teambuilding cooking classes, birthdays, kitchen teas, and dinner parties with a difference. Our cooking lessons are hands-on, where every person gets to participate in the preparation of the dishes. They are also a lot of fun where you not only learn new skills, but get to meet people with similar interests. For corporate groups and team building cooking classes these events are a novel way of creating staff interaction or entertaining clients. We’ve just launched a new and exciting class, Wickedfood Master Cook. Think Master Chef with a fun twist.