These blue cheese buns have character and comfort rolled up in one. —INGRAIN, Fall/Winter 2019
STORY / Lisa Futterman
Going out for brunch has always been problematic for me. I love breakfast and lunch but am not a huge fan of overpriced, overblown restaurant brunches with long waits and basic bitch menus. I am also wary of hosting brunch at home, since the window of prep time is small and, honestly, who really wants people in their house before noon?
I soon realized that brunch is the ultimate make-ahead party time slot. Wake up and pop a frittata or strata in the oven that you mixed up the night before, bake something that will make your house smell delicious, and fill up a punch bowl with cider-mosas.
Since I woke to brunching at home, I have never regretted inviting folks for daytime revelry around whatever occasion—a puppy shower, a new job celebration, or just an excuse to gather and catch up. And I always bake buns. You can’t NOT make them ahead, and your pals will get welcoming yeasty whiffs of them all the way down your street.
As a lover of the savory side of brunch, I give you a bun with a bacon, shallot, and blue cheese filling that will satisfy the umami-est urge. I also recently made birthday buns filled with miso caramelized onions and Gruyère cheese (imagine the best French onion soup this side of Paris). Whole milk cottage cheese sweetened up with some sugar and lemon curd makes a lemon cheese bun that’s beyond. And honey, pecans, and brown sugar take things to a very sweet place. Same dough. Same technique. Different brunch.
Don’t fear the yeast. Yeast is easy to use and hard to kill. Buy it in those little envelopes at the supermarket and keep it in the fridge.
Same goes for the dough. Your dough will not spill over the edge of the bowl and take over the kitchen. It will rise, and the slower it does, the better it will taste.
Be creative. Everyone thinks bakers must be very precise, but buns are very forgiving. Follow the dough recipe and have fun with the fillings. Your guests will love you for it.
To get the breakdown on blue cheese, check out Winter Blues.