When I saw these buns in Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen: Cookin’ for Trouble cookbook, published by Random House of Canada, I knew I had to make them! They are so similar to my mom’s Pīrāgi (Latvian Bacon Buns) that I just had to see how they compared. I also knew I would have to have a whole day dedicated to making them. You can not rush making these stuffed golden buns!
In a large bowl combine 1/2 cup warm water, 1 tbsp of dry yeast and 2 tbsp of raw sugar. Whisk together and let sit 5 minutes.
In another large bowl sift together 4 cups of flour and 1 tsp sea salt.
Put a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup whole milk, 3 eggs yolks (the grocery list said 4 so I added 4 by accident, the other egg yolk was for the egg wash) and 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into cubes. Melt together.
Pour warm ingredients onto the yeast mixture. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquid.
Use your hands to mix until a sticky ball forms. Nadia G. says you may need more flour to form a ball that is not to sticky but as usual, it is so dry here that was not an issue. In fact I think it is just as well I added an additional yolk by accident!
On a lightly floured board knead dough for 10 minutes. I like to use the fold over method and use my fingertips to push down and away from me. You will know it is ready when it gets all smooth and when you poke it with your finger the dough bounces back.
Coat a large bowl with canola oil, place dough inside and cover with plastic wrap. Let dough rise 1 1/2 hours.
You are supposed to put six finely chopped slices of bacon, 1/2 finely chopped Vidalia onion and a pinch of finely chopped fresh thyme into the buns. But the recipe does not say whether of not the bacon is cooked!
It is quite common when making Pīrāgi that the bacon be raw but I just can not do that! The buns are only in the oven 10-15 minutes, there is no way it is going to be cooked. So I cooked it up some turkey bacon ahead of time and let it cool while the dough was rising.
Back to the buns…
Punch down the dough and divide into 28 golf balls. Um, how do I do that exactly? I am terrible at figuring stuff like that out.
So I divided the dough in half. Then divided those two pieces in half… And somehow ended up with 29 pieces which I know, is impossible! Roll the pieces of dough into circles, put on a parchment-line baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise again for about an hour.
Using your fingers roll the dough into a disk and place a tsp of filling in the center.
Roll the dough over the filling and pinch to seal it.
Turn it over seam side down and form into an oval. Put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat with remaining doughs of ball. She does not specify if you need to have space between them or it is OK for them to touch.
In a small bowl, blend a splash of water with egg yolk using a fork. Brush each roll with egg wash and baked in a preheated 375F oven until golden, 10-15 minutes.
Let cool slightly and serve warm. Well they look pretty… How did they taste?
The bread is ridiculously rich. I am shocked at how much fat is in it! It makes a lovely dough but I think all that butter, whole milk and yolks is a tad over-the-top. Especially since it is not necessary. My mom’s Pīrāgi has a fantastic dough without all that decadence.
Also, there was so much dough in comparison to the filling! Which is the opposite to how it appears in the cookbook. I agree, the bun should be just barely containing that awesome filling but just a tsp of filling per bun does not really cut it.
I found the recipe slightly confusing. I could have used more information and have the list of ingredients note that 3 yolks were for the dough and one for the egg wash. This kind of writing in this cookbook has gotten me into trouble before. Thankfully it did not ruin the dough but I am really making an effort to follow directions 100% so it is frustrating.
I realize it is next to impossible to complete with my mom’s Pīrāgi but even on their own, the buns and recipe were disappointing. All bun and minimal filling… Not what is advertised in the cookbook at all. Reg agrees, “Your Mom’s are better.” His words, not mine!
Unfortunately I have to give this recipe three out of five wooden spoons. It is a lot of work and time to create something that I thought was just OK.