I don’t think it’s a true holiday season without the smell of yeast and baked goodies in our kitchen. When we were kids my great grandma used to make these sweet cheese buns and put them in the pantry under a tea towel. Any time we walked by the pantry we would sneak in and grab one as we pleased. They had a distinct smell and a very specific taste too. I remember it so clearly.
My great grandma didn’t have a recipe, at least not one that was written down anywhere or in any book that we can replicate. But when I started making the challah bread last summer, the heavy yeast smell was really similar and it brought back great memories. So I decided to play around with the recipe and see if I could come up with a recipe that was just like the one my great grandma made. First step…lots and lots of Fleischmann’s yeast. Am I the only one who loves the smell of fermenting yeast??
While the process of making these buns is a little bit involved, I assure you it’s worth every minute! And if you double the recipe you can use half the dough for a challah loaf!
Ok so here’s how I made the buns:
Ingredients (for the dough – double for an extra loaf of challah)
2.5 tsp Fleischmann's traditional yeast 3/4 cup of warm tap water 1/4 cup of sugar divided 1/2 tsbp honey 1/2 tbsp salt 2 cups white all purpose flour 1 & 1/4 cups of cake and pastry flour (not self rising) 2 large eggs, plus 1 more for the egg wash 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (or sunflower oil)
Ingredients (for the filling)
454g Full fat ricotta (strained in a cheese cloth to remove all the water) 4 packs vanilla sugar 1 tbsp granulated sugar 1 large egg 1 tsp lemon rind Powdered sugar (optional for the end)
In a bowl mix the warm water, honey and Fleischmann’s yeast, stir a little with a spoon and set aside. Let the yeast activate, about 5 or so minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s all foamy.
In a large bowl, or a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour, salt and half of the sugar. In a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil and the remaining sugar.
Add the yeast mixture, followed by the egg mixture to the flour and knead either by hand or with the mixer for about 10 minutes. The dough should be very sticky but smooth.
Coat a clean bowl with a little oil, add the dough. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it rise for about 2 to 2.5 hours.
In a separate bowl mix the strained ricotta, egg, sugar, vanilla sugar and lemon rind together. Cover and set aside.
On a floured surface cut the dough into two separate parts. Working with one piece at a time while keeping the other covered with a damp towel, roll out the dough into a large rectangle and then cut into squares, this part doesn’t have to be perfect. Place about a tsp and a half of ricotta mix inside each square, pinch the four ends together tightly and place on the parchment paper.
Work with half the dough at each time to make sure it doesn’t dry. Cover the buns up with a damp towel and let them rise for another 30-40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375*F. When ready to bake, brush each loaf with egg wash (egg yolk beaten with 2 tbsp water). Sprinkle with salt or poppy seeds or none of the above and bake for about 20-25 minutes. The top should be nice and golden brown and so should the bottom if you lift it up. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve hot or cold.
This post was created in partnership with Fleischmann’s but as always all recipes, opinions and thoughts are my own.