The savory breakfast bun. Swirl of my dreams, holder of my heart. I find a breakfast bun, especially one rolled around an unexpected filling, to be irresistible. This brioche version tastes a little bit like a high-end pizza, a little bit like a croissant, and a lot like what my oldest daughter and I had for breakfast and snack every day until the pan was empty. The dough is buttery and crispy, light and rich. The filling is salty and sharp enough to cut perfectly against the rich brioche, and the result is magical. Plus you can make the dough the night before, roll and fill it when you wake up, and have brioche buns worthy of a pastry shop warm from the oven in time for brunch.
I based this recipe off of the brioche dough from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day that I also adapted into these brioche burger buns. I figured that since it worked so well there, it might be equally flaky and tender as a breakfast bun. Halfway through the recipe, as I was rolling out the dough and it was threatening to stick to the counter, I got a little nervous. The whole concept behind this dough is that it’s hands off, with no kneading, and therefore a little stickier than a typical dough. But with a well-floured counter and a bench scraper to help pick up any bits of dough threatening to stick, I was able to get a pretty clean roll and cut twelve beautifully swirled buns. I think that the ease and amount of hands-off time in this recipe, and the taste of the finish product, makes up for any mess you might have to clean up off the counter afterward.
If you want your breakfast buns in the morning, mix the dough the night before. Combine the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter in a large bowl. Mix in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until it’s all combined, then cover it with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rise at room temperature for two hours. Then stick it in the fridge and forget about it until the morning.
Once you’re ready to bake, generously (and I do mean very generously) flour your countertop. You’ll be rolling the dough out to a 12 by 16 inch rectangle, so make sure you flour at least that much surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough and a rolling pin generously with flour. Turn the dough out onto the counter and start rolling it. If any dough starts sticking to the rolling pin, add more flour to the rolling pin. If any dough starts sticking to the counter, use a bench scraper to pick it up and sprinkle more flour underneath it. Once the dough is 12 by 16 inches, square of the corners as best you can and spread the pesto on top, followed by the asiago cheese, leaving a half inch border around all four edges.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces and carefully roll each piece up. Did I roll mine perfectly? No, no I did not. Did it matter at all when they came out of the oven? Nope, they looked beautiful. Place the rolls in a buttered 9 by 13 inch baking pan, leaving a little space between each roll. Let them rise for an hour, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes in a 350° oven. The tops of the buns will get crispy, giving them a crunchy, cheesy asiago crust. The dough is rich, buttery and crispy and the pesto complements its sweetness perfectly. Try to eat just one.
- ½ cup lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons lightly beaten eggs (2 or 3 eggs, depending on their size)
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons honey
- 8 tablespoons butter (1 stick), melted and cooled until lukewarm
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup pesto
- 1 ½ cups shredded asiago cheese
- Mix the yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and melted butter with the water in a large bowl.
- Mix in the flour with a wooden spoon until combined. The dough will seem very loose, but it will firm up once it’s cooled.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let it rest at room temperature for 2 hours, then place the dough in the refrigerator. Chill for at least 3 hours. You can leave the dough in the fridge for up to 5 days and still use it.
- When ready to bake, turn the dough out onto a very well-floured counter. Dust the dough with more flour, then shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball 90° each time.
- Re-flour your countertop (this is important since the dough is so sticky) and sprinkle a rolling pin generously with flour. Roll the dough out into a 12” by 16” rectangle.
- Spread the pesto over the dough, leaving a half inch border, and then sprinkle with the asiago cheese.
- Roll up the dough on the long edge, using a bench scraper to pick up the dough and sprinkling flour underneath as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the counter. This might get a little messy, but don’t worry if the roll isn’t perfectly perfect.
- Butter a 13” by 9” baking pan and cut the roll into 12 pieces, placing each in the pan with a little space in between. Let the rolls rest for another hour, loosely covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the rolls for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the cheese is browned and bubbly.