Golden demi-brioche dough filled with ham, cheddar cheese and tangy tomato relish.
We’ve had more rain than sun over the past few months, so my best summer memories are predominantly doughnut based. My chocolate filled doughnut from Maltby Street market in London was the highlight of my birthday. I couldn’t go past the classic cinnamon sugar doughnuts in Mykonos, and in Lake Como the local bakery’s lemon-custard filled bomboloni made the perfect holiday breakfast. Some may say I’ve eaten too many doughnuts, but to them I would say, “get out of my house and don’t come back unless it’s to bring me apology doughnuts”. I can only hope my European Summer Doughnut Tour continues into Autumn and Winter (…and then into Spring and Summer again).
Despite my deep and eternal love for doughnuts, they are actually something I hardly ever bake myself. There’s just too much admin and stress involved when it comes to deep-frying. Luckily these savoury ham and cheese “dough-knots” don’t require a dunk in a boiling vat of oil. All they need is fifteen to twenty minutes in the oven.
These rolls should come with a warning, because they are seriously addictive. If you can stop yourself from devouring an entire knot the minute they come out of the oven then that’s some impressive willpower. The dough is enriched with egg yolks and butter – not enough to make it a full brioche, but enough to make it rich and soft and delicious. I think they’re best warm, but they also taste great cold. Store in an airtight container and eat within a day or two. Freeze any you want to save for later – to defrost, wrap in tinfoil and put in the oven for 15-20mins at around 180ºC until heated through.
- Try different fillings like pesto, caramelised onions, salami, feta, sundried tomatoes or pine nuts.
- The recipe makes 8 large rolls – divide dough into 12-16 portions for smaller, snack size rolls.
- 250 ml milk
- 1 T honey
- 7 grams yeast (1 sachet)
- 500 grams bread flour
- 1 t salt
- 2 eggs
- 50 g butter (cubed and softened)
- 4 T tomato relish
- 150 g cheddar cheese (grated)
- 240 g sliced ham
Heat milk in a small pot until mildly warm. Add honey and stir until dissolved. Sprinkle yeast over surface of milk and leave for 5-10mins until foamy.
Add flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the centre.
Separate eggs and put the whites aside for later. Whisk egg yolks into milk mixture and pour into the flour. Mix by hand until a shaggy dough forms, then knead with the mixer on low for 5 minutes.
Add the butter 1/3 at a time, kneading after each addition until incorporated. Once all butter has been added, knead on low for another 5 minutes.
Form the dough into a ball with your hands, place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (60-90mins).
Once risen, punch the dough down and divide into 8 even portions. Roll each portion into a long rectangle approx. 8x25cm.
Layer each rectangle with relish, grated cheese and ham. Bring the long sides each rectangle together and pinch to seal. You should now have 8 ham and cheese filled dough tubes.
Twist each tube into a simple knot and pinch shut the open end of the tube at the bottom of each knot.
Sit the knots on a lined baking tray and sprinkle with flour. Ensure there is plenty of space between each knot as they will expand during their second rise. Lightly drape with a layer of clingfilm and leave in a warm place to rise for 40mins.
Preheat oven to 200ºC. Brush buns with the leftover egg whites and bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20mins until golden brown.