The Essence

Living and growing a family in the North awards you with a real and tangible connection to the land. As a mother of 5 and as a home baker and wannabe chef, it is this connection that seeps into everything - motherhood, food, harvesting, and experiencing the very heartbeat of the bit of earth that sustains us.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Food Fair Cheese Buns

As a teenager and young adult, I worked at a grocery store called Food Fair. It was owned by the Palamar family, and they were big into providing first time job experience to high school kids. Many a Yukoner worked their first job at Food Fair, packing customers groceries into brown paper bags, making sure eggs and bananas were placed carefully on top - stacking apples into neat little rows, stocking shelves, making sure items were pulled up front and labels were all facing the same way. During my time there I worked in every department, stringing chickens onto the spit in the deli, memorizing codes as a cashier, and wrapping trays of burger in the meat department, but my favourite job by far was in the bakery. There is nothing quite like fresh, warm bread. One of the most popular items in the food Fair bakery was the cheese buns. They had a following of folks, some that would even call to ask when the days Cheesebuns were due to come out of the oven.
 The smell of the cheese bubbling, then crisping on top would cause many an employee to call break.
The head baker would often leave a big soft lump of dough on his big wooden cutting block, along with a hill of shredded cheddar, and tell me to roll the Cheesebuns while he was on his lunch. 

This recipe is inspired by those buns. The dough is generally my go to recipe for buns or bread, it is easy and versatile. You can mix all manner of goodies into it, and it will always turn out fabulous. I've been selling Cheesebuns occasionally at local bake sales and my friend Laurie calls every once in a while to see if I have time to make her a batch. She just called yesterday, and TJ passed the message on, "Laurie wants you to make her those Cheesebuns again", so they may as well star as the first recipe shared on Our Yukon Table. 

Measure 7 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, 4 1/2 tsp quick rise yeast, and 2 tsp salt into the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer. (If you don't have one, go buy one, silly)  Mix it up.
 Into a glass measuring cup, place 2 cups of milk, 2/3 cup of water, 1/4 cup butter, 1/2 cup of honey.

Zap that in the microwave for about 2 1/2 minutes, until the butter is melty. Stir it up, and stick your finger in it to make sure it's not to hot. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast.

With the paddle attachment on low, slowly pour in your warm milk mixture into the flour mixture.

When it all comes together, switch to the dough attachment and continue to mix for about 5 minutes, or until it forms a ball and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. You might need to add some more flour if it keeps sticking. 

Take out the dough, knead it a couple times and form it into a ball and place it into your Grandmothers lightly greased ceramic bowl. If you don't have your grandmothers bowl, hopefully your buns will turn out anyways. 

Place the bowl in a warm place to rise - for about an hour or until double in size. Oh, and cover the bowl with a tea towel or some good ole Saran Wrap. 

After and hour or so your dough should be trying to bust it's way through the Saran Wrap. Punch it down and turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. If you don't have a bench scraper, go get one of those too! I use mine everyday. It works especially well for chopping the dough into bun sized chunks.

Shred a bunch of cheddar, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, Parmesan, what ever kind of cheeses you have on hand will work fine. I like to add some spice, and I like the big jugs from clubhouse. This one is "roasted red pepper and garlic". Yum. Dump some right on the cheese and toss to coat.

To roll the buns, chop off a chunk of dough with your bench scraper, roll it into a rope and roll it generously into the cheese. Then form it into a pretzel shape ( or whatever kind of shape you want) and plunk it onto a greased sheet.

Now they need to rise again in a warm place for another hour or so. I cover mine with a tea towel so they don't form a crust and dry out. When they are nice and puffy looking, it's time to stick them in your preheated 375C oven.

After about 20 minutes your house will start to smell like cheesy heaven. I usually rotate the buns so each tray gets a turn at the top of the oven. You want them nice and crispy - they will cook for about 35 minutes total. When you pull them out, it will be hard not to pick all the little crispy cheese bits off. Let them sit for 5 minutes or so, then loosen them from your pan with your bench scraper. 

Sorry, Laurie! Lydia got one. 

1 comment:

  1. mahahha! Your writing is hilarious. Love the part about the grandmothers bowl. Awesome. And no matter how hard I try, I can never make my knots look like this. I need to come for another lesson before you move!