I have been making these tasty buns for 32 years, ever since my good friend Maggie shared the recipe. I was going on a backpacking trip and wanted snacks that would keep for a couple of days and she suggested these tasty treats. They freeze beautifully, retaining all their flavor when thawed, so just tuck a frozen bun or two in your lunch bag andthey’ll be thawed and delicious a few hours later. When Flaming Carrot Catering kicked in a few years later, these buns became a staple in our kitchen, a favorite on many menus.
Prep: 1.5 hours *make dough & let it rise, make the filling
1 hour minutes *shape the buns, let rise
Baking: 20-25 minutes
Oven temp: 350 degrees, middle rack
Servings: 1 dozen medium size buns or 24 appetizer size buns
♥PANTRY, FRIDGE, MARKET♥♥
At least 3 hours before, but as long as weeks ahead: soak the currants in the wine or spirits (see below)
1/4 C. wheat germ
1 T. dry yeast
1/4 C. warm water
1 T. granulated sugar
1 t. fine sea salt
1/4. C. olive oil
3 C. unbleached white flour
1-1 1/4 C. warm water
Spinach & Pine Nut Filling
1 medium yellow or white onion, cut into chunks
3 medium cloves garlic
16 ou. bag fresh baby spinach
1/2 C. pine nuts
1 1/2 grated cheeses *your choice, mix it up
1/4 C. currants, soaked in white wine, whiskey, sherry or brandy
1/4. t. grated nutmeg
1/2 t. fine sea salt
fresh ground pepper
Yeast Dough:Place the wheat germ in an oven proof dish and toast at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes until it is aromatic and light brown. Watch carefully, it will burn in no time.
Meanwhile, place the yeast, 1/4 C warm water and sugar in your food processor (steel blade). Wait a few minutes until the yeast softens, then add the flour, salt, wheat germ, olive oil and 3/4 C. water. Pulse until all is mixed then slowly add the rest of the water until the dough comes together — not too dry, not too sticky. This is a very forgivable dough, so add more water or flour to correct it.
Run processor for about 3 minutes to “knead” the dough. NOTE: this step can be done by hand, kneading the dough on a floured board*. Place the dough in a bowl that has been lightly oiled, turn the dough over once to coat on all sides with the oil, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place.
Spinach & Pine Nut Filling
Rinse the processor and put back together with steel blade intact. Add onion chunks and garlic cloves; pulse until they are the equivalent of a small dice. Add 2 T. olive oil and onion mix to a large skillet and sautee until the onions are translucent. Add the spinach and stir until just wilted. Remove from the heat and place in a strainer to drain the excess water from the spinach. Press gently with the palm of you hand. Set aside.
Place the pine nuts in an oven proof dish and toast at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes or until it is aromatic and light brown. Watch carefully, they will burn in no time. NOTE: Consider toasting the pine nuts & wheat germ at the same time, separate pans.
In a medium size bowl, add the grated cheese, pine nuts, currants, nutmeg, salt, pepper and strained spinach. Stir with a fork and also use your fingers to separate the spinach.
Shaping the Buns
Place the yeast dough on a floured surface and cut into 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a 3 1/2” circle (or 2” circle if making appetizer size buns) Spoon the spinach filling into the center of each circle using an ice cream scoop or soup spoon (teaspoon for smaller buns) distributing the filling equally between the rounds.
Pull the sides of the dough up around the filling and pinch together to close. Line baking sheets with parchment, or lightly oil the surface, and place each bun on the pan, leaving a 2” space between each. Brush with egg wash (1 egg yolk mixed with 1 T. cool water) and set in a warm place to rise until they double their size.
♥BAKE - 350 degrees, middle rack, for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
♥♥ WAYS TO “just wing it” ♥♥ consider or substitute
*substitute: raisins or diced dried apricots
*consider: using equal portions of spinach and chopped kale
*substitute: Pamela’s Gluten Free Baking Mix (salt is already in the mix)
♥ Helpful Hints♥
*portions of unbaked dough can be frozen, thawed and used to make the buns.
* filling can be frozen