One of the earliest things I remember loving to eat is Sloppy Joes – I even remember that they were on the menu for my 5th birthday… which is one of the few things I actually remember about that birthday. I think that is a good indication that food and memories have always been tightly woven together for me.
I have always loved sloppy joes. Over the years, I realized I have never actually made them from scratch. I can’t do the canned stuff, but often I just throw one of the all-in-one seasoning packets in with the ground beef and tomato paste and call it good. The only other addition that we have made for a long time is to add a can of baked beans into the mix. Being a legume lover myself, that has always been my favorite way.
I finally changed the fact that I have never made them all the way from scratch not to long ago and came up with my own recipe. I’m not sure I could ever go back now because they were really, really good. I wrote that recipe down and as soon as I find the paper I scratched it out on, I promise to share. In the meantime, I wanted to tell you about a new obsession of mine.
Buns. Sandwich buns that is. Seriously, what do you people take me for? Ahem.
Sorry for the random tangent there.
So, a while back I posted a recipe from the King Arthur website for Homemade Sandwich Buns that was seriously awesome and so, so good. Well, not too long ago, I was going through their website again (what a treasure trove of recipes they have!) and stumbled across a recipe for Onion Buns. They sounded fun to make and truly delicious so I had to give it a try. I then noticed I didn’t have all the exact ingredients. I decided to forge ahead and just get a little creative, so here is my take on their Onion Buns. They are flavorful, fun to make, not difficult and extremely delicious. If they were this good with some humble sloppy joe on them… well, I can only imagine how good they would be with a thick, juicy hamburger seasoned just right and sizzzling hot off the grill (oh yes. I am SO ready for Summer!).
What makes my version different is that I added a spiral of cheese rolled into them as well as some good seasoning throughout the actual roll using a package of onion soup mix instead of just onion powder – which I didn’t have on hand. I am sure the original recipe would be delightful, but if you like cheese and like the caramelized taste of a good onion soup mix, then you really should make a batch of these and elevate your burgers the next time you get around to making some – or go kid-style and make some sloppy joes!
FRENCH ONION BUNS
(Adapted from the King Arthur Flour website)
3/4 cup to 1 cup (6 to 8 ounces) lukewarm water*
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) butter
1 large egg
3 ½ cups (14 ¾ ounces) Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
¼ cup (1 ¾ ounces) sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons salt
1 package onion soup mix (if you want less onion, just use half a package)
1 tablespoon instant yeast
*Use the lesser amount in summer (or in a humid environment), the greater amount in winter (or in a dry climate), and somewhere in between the rest of the year, or if your house is climate controlled.
1/2 cup shredded cheese of your choice (I used cheddar)
1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water
topping seeds: sesame, poppy, etc., optional
1) To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them—by hand, mixer, or bread machine—to make a soft, somewhat tacky dough.
2) Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl or other container large enough to allow it to at least double in bulk, cover, and let it rise for about 60 to 70 minutes, till it’s just about doubled.
3) Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and pat/roll it into a 12″ x 17″ rectangle.
4) Sprinkle the dough with the shredded cheese and pat/press it into the surface gently.
5) Starting with a short (12″) end, roll the dough into a log, sealing the ends and side seam.
6) Cut the log into eight slices.
7) Place the buns on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
8) Flatten the buns till they’re about 3″ wide. Cover them, and allow them to rise till they’re very puffy, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
9) Uncover the buns, brush them with the beaten egg white/water, and sprinkle with seeds, if desired.
10) Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown and feel set when you poke them.
11) Remove them from the oven, and cool on a rack. When completely cool, wrap in plastic, and store at room temperature.