Recipe Road Test: Cheddar swirl breakfast buns

I have to agree with Deb that I like the book far better without the dust jacket.

I have to agree with Deb that I like the book far better without the dust jacket.

My mother is a bit obsessed with blogger and cookbook author Deb Perelman and her Smitten Kitchen. She likes Deb’s plucky tone and that her recipes are sophisticated but without stuffiness or pretention. In fact, she likes Deb’s blog and subsequent cookbook, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, so much that after buying the book for me for Christmas, she also purchased copies for herself and my sister.

Since then, my mother, sister and I have begun referring to her casually as “Deb,” as though we know her, much as I sometimes do with Julia Child and Thomas Keller. (when talking to them by myself in my kitchen. No lie.)

The highest praise I can offer for Deb’s book, which I have liberally sticky-tabbed to indicate recipes that MUST be tried first, is that I can honestly say I would make everything in it. Literally. Every single recipe.

But, one had to be first, and as I’m on a kick to try and become a better baker, I went with Deb’s Cheddar Swirl Breakfast Buns (The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, pg. 49)


I opted to make mini-buns, mostly due to the size and shape of pan I had available and I added a bit of garlic to the filling. (It was a good choice.)

However, I do believe a may have slightly overworked the dough following the first rising, as the final product was a little tougher than it should have been.  (See more details of my failing in the recipe below.)

Never the less, I served them with herbed butter and they were delicious. While they’re not something I’d make on a regular basis, this recipe is going into my repertoire for special occasions or those days when I have five hours to kill and really need carbs with cheese. I’ll exercise while the dough rises.

Cheddar swirl breakfast buns

Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

As I do with many recipes, I cut this one in half, it appears in full in Deb’s book. While I could have easily eaten/shared a full batch of these, alas one cannot live on carbs and cheese alone.

For the dough

  •  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • A few grinds of white pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/8 teaspoons (1/2 packet instant yeast)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled, plus 1 tablespoon melted for brushing

For the filling

  •  1/4 cup (medium) grated white onion
  • 3/4 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh dill
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 dash table salt
  • Few grinds of black pepper

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine flour, salt, pepper and sugar . In a smaller separate bowl, mix the yeast into the milk until it dissolves. Add the yeast, milk to the flour mixture along with the melted butter.

Blend the ingredients in your mixer or with a rigid spoon until the dough comes together in a loose mass.

I kneaded mine by hand on a well-floured surface for about eight minutes or you can use the dough hook on a stand mixer for about 6 minutes until a smooth ball forms.  Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a towel. Let the dough rise in a warm place for two hours until doubled. (I preheat my oven on a very low temperature then turn it off before placing the dough inside so the oven acts like a warming cabinet in my very cold apartment.)

Deb says you can put the dough in the fridge overnight, then bring it to room temperature and let it rise for two hours instead, but I opted to make mine all in one afternoon.

Mix all the filling ingredients and refrigerate. Note: Filling options are very flexible on this, I’m considering making it with mozzarella, garlic and basil as Deb suggests in her book. cheddarbun_1

After the dough has risen,  roll out the dough onto a floured counter  into 6×8 rectangle. This would be where I think I overworked the dough. It took me three or four tries to get the dough rolled into an even rectangle. (My perfectionism shall be my undoing.) So, hopefully you’ll have better luck getting your desired shape without having to re-roll.

Spread the filling on the dough, leaving a half-inch border around the edges. Starting with the short end for full rolls, or the long end for mini-rolls, begin to roll the dough.

Using a serrated knife, or a piece of thread, slice the log of dough into even pieces. Grease the baking pan(s) or line with parchment.

Place the rolls into a baking dish, spaced evenly apart.

Brush the buns with butter and cover with plastic or a towel again and let rest for another 2 hours or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then bake the rolls for 20 to 25 minutes. The rolls should be browned on top.

Serve as is right out of the oven or with an herbed butter. (I opted for rosemary-chive butter.) If you live alone and always end up with leftovers, these reheat pretty well in the microwave, 30 seconds on medium head, wrapped in a moist paper towel to keep them from drying out.

Enjoy them and check out because Deb rocks.


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