You are what you read: making cheese buns from “The Hunger Games”

By IYWP Intern Emily Hott

In the spirit of discovering and recreating food based off books, I undertook some recipe development of my own. I talked with friends and did research, but I ultimately decided to recreate a food I’d always thought sounded so appealing.

I distinctly remember reading The Hunger Games series in middle school and remembered how one of the characters made something called “cheese buns,” which I presume are rolls with cheese baked on top. To fully flesh out my “research,” I’m including a quote from The Hunger Games series that inspired the following recipe: “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 began with a potato bread recipe from King Arthur Flour that I used before and had fantastic results with. I adapted the recipe, but I also recommend making this bread as is.


 

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Ingredients 

Dough 

6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water

2 eggs

3/4 cup softened unsalted butter

1 cup mashed potatoes (I find that 2 large russet potatoes are adequate)

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon instant yeast

1/2 cup caramelized onions (optional)

Cheese Topping 

1 1/2 cup cheese (I used gruyère but swiss or cheddar would both work beautifully as well)

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

1 teaspoon garlic powder


Directions (Day 1)

  • To a pot of boiling water add 2 tablespoons of salt (to season the potatoes). Peel the russet potatoes and boil until tender. Set aside until cool.
  • Once the potatoes are cooled to room temperature mash them so they can incorporate into the dough easily. My favorite method is using a ricer because it gives the potatoes a light texture, but a fork or traditional potato masher also work. I would advise against using a food processor or blender to puree the potatoes because they will bring out the starch in the potatoes and create an unappealing gummy look and taste.
  • In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, sugar, butter, salt, yeast, mashed potatoes, caramelized onions (optional), and eggs (I like to beat the eggs together separately before adding to the mixture in order to insure they incorporate fully into the dough).
  • If using a stand mixer, beat the mixture together with a dough hook scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula occasionally. After 5 to 7 minutes at medium speed, the dough will start to pull together more but will still be quite sticky.
  • If mixing by hand, use a rubber spatula to mix the dough ingredients together then switch to kneading by hand on a floured cutting board. In order to prevent the dough from sticking, add more flour to the cutting board throughout the kneading process. Continue to knead for about ten minutes, until the dough holds a ball shape more easily and does not fall apart. The dough will still be quite sticky.

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  • Once it reaches this stage scrape it into a bowl greased with oil or butter, cover it, and leave it in the fridge overnight (8 – 12 hours).

Directions (Day 2)

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  • The next morning pull the dough from the fridge and prepare the baking dish by       greasing it liberally with butter. I used a small baking dish because that was all I had and braided and baked the remaining dough into a loaf. The dough will yield around 24 rolls, so two 9″ x 13″ x 2″ pans will work.
  • Scrape the dough onto a floured cutting board and divide it into 24 pieces by cutting the dough into four quarters and then cutting each quarter into six even pieces. You can also form as many rolls and you desire and save the rest of the dough to bake a loaf.

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  • Form the rolls by rolling them in between your palms at first to form a ball. Brush the flour off your cutting board and push the roll against the cutting board in between your hands. The surface of the cutting board will create tension and begin to bring to dough together into a tight ball. To finish the shaping create a cage around the roll with your hand and move it in a circle on the board.
  • Nestle the rolls into your greased baking dish leaving some space for them to rise but also not too much space that they spread out and flatten.

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  • Leave the dough to rise until it is puffy and doubled in size and risen about an inch above the pan. My kitchen was on the warm side so this took 2 hours, but it can also take longer. An easy way to know if the dough is proofed is by poking it with your finger. If the dough springs back quickly, it is not done but if it holds the indent and slowly springs back, it is ready to bake.
  • Towards the end of the rise time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. IMG_0935IMG_0942
  • Melt the 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter and add the garlic salt. Brush the proofed rolls with this mixture and distribute the cheese among the tops of the rolls.

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  • Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time lightly cover the rolls with aluminum foil if the cheese is browning too quickly.
  • Once cooked, let the rolls cool until they can be handled without burning your hands.

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  • Serve them to anyone who will take them. In my case, it was my roommate.

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