Every burger suffers from the same problem. Overcooked patty? No, that’s only like 95-97% of them. Out of season produce? I mean, I guess, but maybe just lower your expectations.
I’m talking about a deeper, seemingly inescapable problem that stems from gravity (the science thing, not the Sandra Bullock movie).
The minute your burger is fully stacked, all the stress is being put on the bottom bun, which is—enragingly— almost always half as thick as the top bun. Maybe that’s because the top bun is convex, and the slicer is guesstimating the mid point from a side view and not factoring in the elevated peak… but that’s not important. What is important is that the bottom bun is starting at a structural disadvantage, and then you’re piling a half-pound (give or take a few ounces either way) of dripping ground beef on top.
In that scenario, two terrible things happen. First, the bottom bun becomes soaked-through and crumbles between your fingers as you eat your way through the burger, bringing the whole thing closer to collapse with each bite. Second, the top bun remains all too structurally intact. It’s likely sitting on a mound of produce which means it’s getting colder every second and losing any of the benefits it would have received from being toasted.
So, how do you solve the problem of buzz-killing burger bun asymmetricality? Easy—you just have to employ the flip method. When your burger hits the table, your first move should be rotating it it over 180 degrees over its equator (please reference the gif above for proper technique) and letting it rest on the top bun for at least 60 seconds. I know, I know, who doesn’t snatch the burger straight out of the server’s hands and cram it in their mouth as fast as possible? But it’s worth it. Patience, young burger padawan. Patience.
While the burger rests upside-down, all of its wrongs are righting themselves. The flow of juices from the patty are being rerouted upwards, away from the perennially fragile bottom bun, decreasing your chances of total burger collapse (TBC).
Even if the juices are getting trapped in the toppings—which helps create a positive thermal equilibrium, but that’s for another time—and don’t make their way all the way to the top bun, it’s still getting compressed by the meat weight thus creating a more symmetrical bread system. Please observe the picture below:
The burger on the left was flipped right after purchase and left upside-down for three minutes. It’s an aggressive inversion time, I know, but it’s imperative that you see the differences here. Now, the burger on the right might be immediately more visually appealing—you can more clearly see the bacon and roasted tomato peeking out from under the bun with that super twee toothpick holding it all together. And by all means, take ten seconds to Instagram it before you flip it.
But take a closer look and the real story is revealed. First, check out the size ratio of top bun to bottom bun. On the left you’re looking at roughly a 60/40 split, which is a marked improvement from that unwieldy 75/25 that you see to the right. Gross. Just imagine your teeth trudging through the cold, dense expanse of that top bun. Also, check out how the bun is reacting to the burger patty on the right—you can actually see it buckling under the weight and juices towards the right side.
If you still don’t believe me—which is understandable—head down to an Umami Burger and try it yourself. No one makes a juicier burger on a more grotesquely large top bun than them.