Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Pizza" Buns

These buns are the distant cousin of pizza. Even though they're fluffy instead of flat and crisp, the tomato and herbs in the dough and cheese in the middle make them taste like they've been hanging around in a pizzeria, that's for sure.

Oregano was my herb of choice, but an Italian blend or your own favorite mix would be just fine. In breads, I prefer dried herbs over fresh, but you could use fresh, if you happen to have them on hand. Three tablespoons of fresh herbs will substitute for the one tablespoon of dried.

I decided to cut the provolone into cubes and put a cube in the middle of each bun. The cheese melted and was soft when the buns were warm.

After the buns cooled completely, the cheese turned solid again and left a cheese-lined hole in the center of the buns - perfect for slicing in half and filling with - oh, I don't know, maybe some sausage?

If you don't want the hole-in-the-middle effect, you can cut the provolone into smaller bits and mix it into the dough.

I used provolone, but any similar cheese would fine - cheddar, aged mozzarella, swiss, or munster would be great.

"Tastes Like Pizza" Buns

1 cup lukewarm water
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 ounces provolone cheese, cut into 16 cubes
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (more as needed)

Combine the water, yeast, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and let it sit for a few minutes while you assemble the rest of the ingredients.

Add the bread flour, tomato paste, oregano, pepper flakes, and salt. Knead with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and elastic. Add the olive oil and continue kneading until the oil is completely incorporated and the dough is smooth, shiny, and elastic.

Note: if you want to add the cheese in smaller pieces to the dough, knead it in with the oil.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size, about an hour.

When the dough has doubled, flour your work surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough briefly, then divide it into 16 equal pieces. Wrap each piece of dough around one of the cubes of cheese and form the dough into a smooth ball.

Coconut? Not in my house! Mmmmmm ... cheese.
Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the dough balls and roll them around to coat them with the cheese. Place the dough balls in a 9-inch square pan and sprinkle any remaining cheese over the top.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside until the dough doubles in size, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

When the dough has doubled, uncover it, and if you like, grate additional cheese over the top. Bake at 325 degrees until nicely browned, about 30 minutes.

Remove the buns from the pan and let them cool on a rack.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.