"From the bag I pull two fresh buns with a layer of cheese baked into the top. We always seem to have a supply of these since Peeta found out they were my favorite."
I am a big fan of Peeta Mellark. Aside from being one of the most badass bakers in fiction, the boy with the bread understands that the way to a woman's heart is through her stomach. So for the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, I made some of the cheese-covered buns Peeta baked for Katniss in Catching Fire. It's called the Hunger Games after all; food is at the heart of the series.
Since we've had quite a bit of snow, I couldn't resist snapping the photos outside, where the woods remind me so much of District 12 in winter. These buns were over-night affairs, but that made them easier because I just made the dough at night, stuck it in the fridge, and baked them right away the next morning. Freshly made bread is probably one of the best smells in existence; add cheese and the house will smell unbelievable. I used cheddar cheese (I had some leftover from my cheddar-crust apple pie) but you can use whatever you have or prefer since the bun-base is very neutral, and may the buns be ever in your flavor!
1/4 cup water, lukewarm
1 package, or 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoon butter, softened
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup hot water
3 cups of flour
3 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
1. Mix the 1/4 cup warm water with a package of yeast and let sit for 5 minutes, until bubbles begin to form.
2. In a separate bowl, mix the butter, sugar and salt in the hot water until completely dissolved. Wait for it to become luke warm, then mix in yeast.
3. Beat in the 1 egg into the water mixture.
4. In a large bowl, stir the water mixture and flour. Mix until completely combined, and a soft dough forms.
5. Drop into a well floured surface, and knead gently for 5 minutes. The dough should be very soft and elastic.
6. Place in a well-greased bowl, and cover. Let rise in the fridge for 2-12 hours.
7. After the rising, punch the dough down. Divide into 15-20 small rolls.
8. To shape the buns:
- Beat the ball of dough down with the heel of your palm to form a small rectangle, then fold it on itself and turn 90 degrees, beat it down once more and fold it over again, going against the original fold.
- Cup your fingers into a small "cage" around the dough, and roll it several times in a tight circle against the counter. This will make a ball, while sealing the folds under the dough. The trick is to create tension along the top and sides of the bun, so it forms a crust while baking.
9. Rest the formed buns 1-2 inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and allow to rest 30-40 minutes until double in size.
10. Preheat the over to 425 F.
11. Sprinkle the buns liberally with the cheeses. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown. You might need to flip the tray half-way for an even bake. Cool on a baking tray as quick as you can, and enjoy!