..."They're cheeky!" (TM) :-)
That's the name and slogan of my imaginary company. In my mind I even have caps and aprons with this printed on them, along with a little line drawing of a rotund bun speckled with sesame seeds. You see, when I threaten to drop out of my PhD program, which happens at least once a week, if not more (it's the only way I can keep part of my sanity and sense of autonomy) my plan for what I will do next is to start a bicycle-pulled food stand from which I will sell little stuffed buns as an afternoon snack from 2:30-5pm.
The idea for afternoon buns was inspired by the buns they have at the St. John's Hotel. I've never had their afternoon buns, but I read their description of them as "warm little buttock-like buns" and I thought it was the most hilarious and ingenious thing ever. Basically everything Fergus Henderson does is genius.
A little stuffed bun is exactly what I want as a snack in the afternoon every day. So, I decided to start working on making them. I've been working on the recipe for some months now - you know, just in case I really do decide to start my company. The idea is that the filling will be different every day, made from really good quality ingredients, based on what's in season, what seems inspiring that day etc. But, there will always be one savory and one sweet option, and if you don't want either of them, well come back tomorrow. But, I really think you want one!
I've made them with all sorts of vegetables and cheeses and fruits. Broccoli, gouda and chile flakes. Mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil. Ham and cheese with mustard. Chocolate and a cherry. Jam and cream cheese. Banana and Nutella...
I wanted the dough to be the same for both savory and sweet, so after trying a whole bunch of different styles, I opted for an enriched dough that's still a bit south of being brioche rich. It's really pliable and easy to work with when it is cold after its refrigerator rise.
Here are a couple of my favorite buns that seem appropriate for this time of year. I've written the recipe so you can make half the batch savory and half sweet.
And hey, they also make fabulous picnic food - I can say this from experience! - fiveandspice —fiveandspice
I made these buns over the weekend to take to various holiday festivities, and they were a big hit. The flavor combinations, especially in the savory bun, were spot-on. I loved the fatty-salty combo of sausage and green olives, and the strawberry-brie mixture was just sweet enough to toe the line between dessert and afternoon snack. I did have a problem with my buns leaking in the oven; next time, I think I'd use a little less filling and shape the dough a little thicker. Otherwise, these were wonderful! —Kate Williams