Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ham-and-Cheese Bun

The Barbecue Pork Buns that I made were a big hit. So, I decided to build upon success. After all, if Hollywood can release sequel after sequel, so can I!

I'd planned to do cheeseburger and bacon cheeseburger buns. Unfortunately, the local meat shops were out of ground beef and had been for a few days. This is one of the drawbacks of living in the semi-rural Philippines. And, don't get me started on fennel seed ... I spent three hours yesterday looking all around town for that only to find puzzled faces.

So, I decided to make a ham-and-cheese variant of these yummy stuffed buns. The problem was that I couldn't find any good cheese in town for sale. They go in cycles of availability here and I'd run out of my stock from the last cycle.

I tried a few experimental buns with Quickmelt and Kraft "Cheddar" (it's a brand name here, not real Cheddar cheese). Both of these are a notch or two below Velveeta on the cheese-quality scale and definitely count as industrial food.

Both were pretty bad, so I feel back to Cheez Whiz. Yes, Cheez Whiz was the best I had available to me.

Making the Buns

I used the dough from the original recipe. For filling, I chopped up some ham and mixed it with Cheez Whiz and a teaspoon of corn starch to thicken slightly.

I experimented with the sizes of each piece of dough. Last time, one of the testers complained that there wasn't enough bread in the buns. She was right. I'd been rolling the dough rather thin to get it to the right size.

Rather than doing that, this time I increased the amount of dough used. And, rather than relying on skill to roll to a specific thickness, I relied on my kitchen scale. After some experimentation, I ended up using 100 grams per piece of dough. I'd roll it out into 6-inch circles.

Each bun used two pieces of this dough. On the bottom piece, I put a small stack of the ham-and-cheese filling. I left a half-inch all around.

Then, I put the second rolled-out circle on top and sealed the two together by pinching and rolling. When I put the finished bun onto the parchment-lined baking sheet, I turned it over to hide the seam.

Again, 15-20 minutes at 350F (175C). When the bun comes out of the oven, immediately transfer it to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter.

Test Results

Primary Test Group: Marasa, very good. Eaten up quickly.

Test Group C: Liked very much. In fact, while we were sitting there talking, we popped open the bun intended for Test Group J and ate it, too.

Test Group M: Still waiting for feedback. Will post when I have it.

Potential Improvements

Better filling. The ham that I was able to buy was more like sandwich meat and not a good ham. And, while Cheez Whiz has better flavor than the other cheese-like products I used, I want better. I'm thinking a medium Cheddar with maybe a little grated Parmesan.

Since better ham isn't available locally, I'm probably going to have to learn to make it. I'm hoping I can get away with a wet method as I don't have a smoke house. Although, this is a nice excuse to build one!

If not ham, Canadian Bacon. Like ham, but made from the loin rather than a hind leg.

I'd really love a honey-baked-like ham. That would just be great.


As I said in the first post, this bread seems bullet-proof. The range of fillings that can go into it are nearly infinite. Going to have fun trying combinations.


Tina Butler said...

Ok those look good to James. I love ham and cheese so what a great combination.

Retiree: Cooking in PI said...

I'm an old American Expat in Angeles City. Having lived here for 26 yrs, I find it amazing what I can buy here now, even more amazed at the prices I have to pay, (good cheese for grating (Parmigiano)and 5 others in it's class are costing P1450~1550/ Kg)So I have figured out a way that I can afford them, just buy 100g of each.
I have learned so much living off the grid so to speak. I did bring an oven from the states, and what a beauty, as I make a lot of breads, cheese cakes, and Pizza's.
I was looking for some making cheese ideas and come across yours. Most of the stuff is here, just finding it now is the problem, OLX being a good source for me. Or if you have a friend in Angeles or Manila that will send box via Fedex (cheapest I found). Anyway good luck.