Serious Eats: Recipes

Bread Baking: Indiana Cheese Buns

[Photograph: Donna Currie]

OK, before the entire Hoosier state questions my sanity, I'll admit that these buns have absolutely nothing at all to do with the state of Indiana. Nothing. Nada. It's all about a pun. These buns are stuffed with ham and cheese, and when I hear "ham and cheese" I tend to pun it into Hammond Cheese. Like Hammond, Indiana. Get it? Ham and ...

Oh, never mind.

These buns are meant to be a hot sandwich, and are parbaked until the dough is fully baked but not browned. Then they're cooled and stored so you can heat-and-eat later. I've only tried reheating these in a regular oven, but they'd probably be just fine in a toaster oven, too. Bake until they're brown and the inside should be warm and gooey at the same time.

I used two cheeses here—Colby and pepperjack—because it's what I had on hand. But any cheese you like should be just fine. No ham? These would be a great way to use up whatever leftover deli meat or roast you have on hand. Freeze them after par-baking, and you'll have an easy meal later on.

I've found that baking anything filled can be a challenge. The cavern inside always grows much larger than the filling, so sometimes it feels like you've been cheated out of as much filling as could have been there. I find that's especially true when there is a wet or melty component right next to the dough, since it can make the dough around it a little more dense and doughy. With meat as the top and bottom layers of the filling, there's still empty space, but the dough isn't affected as much, making for a much nicer sandwich.

About the author: Donna Currie has been cooking for fun and writing for pay since the days when typewritten articles traveled by snail mail. When she combined those talents in a food column for a newspaper in her area, she realized that writing about food is almost as much fun as eating. She writes the blog Cookistry and has joined the Serious Eats team with a weekly column about baking.

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