Anchors Aweight - Vol. 2: Stuffed Buns


I'm posting the next item in the Anchors Aweight series as a reprise of a theme: more food inside other food. Most of my recipes are easily adaptable in a number of ways and this is no exception. These require a bit of work and a time investment of roughly 1.5-2 hours (more or less depending on skill level, how long it takes the dough to rise, if you have help filling the buns, etc.), but they are always delicious and reheat well. The amounts listed here will make about 12-24 buns, depending on how large you want to do them. I usually make many small buns so it is easier for everyone to eat precisely the amount of food they want. However, larger rolls are somewhat easier to fill and since you have to do fewer of them you can finish more quickly.

The Recipe

Take your favorite roll recipe and prior to baking, spread each section of dough into a disk and place a small amount of sauteed vegetables and/or meat in the middle. Fold up the edges so that you have a ball and place upside-down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (or greased), so that the formerly open side is down. If the dough tears, some of the filling will ooze out during cooking but this is only a cosmetic problem (and trying to fix tears usually just makes things worse). Filling them with scrambled eggs, cheese, and pieces of bacon makes a popular, convenient tailgate food for 11 a.m. games (they are delicious and require only one hand to eat -- leaving the other hand free for a bloody mary or mimosa). If you don't want to wake up early and cook you may want to make them the day before (either putting them in the refrigerator for the final rise and baking in the morning or finishing them the day before and reheating before the game).

Oh...want a little more detail?

I'll run through this with my favorite roll recipe and the fillings du jour (i.e. what happened to be in my refrigerator).

The Dough


  • 1.5 cups warm water (about 105-115 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • 1 tablespoon yeast (or one packet)
  • 1 tablespoon table sugar (can substitute honey or other sugar)
  • 4 cups bread flour (can substitute AP flour, and whole wheat can be substituted for up to half the flour in either case)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus a tiny drizzle (can substitute other oils to little effect; solid fats can also be used but will change the texture a bit and may require the addition of a little more water)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • oil, butter, or eggwash to brush over the buns (optional)
  • sesame seeds (optional, will adhere to top of buns best if eggwash is used)


Simple breads require six ingredients (water not pictured).


Proof the yeast unless you're sure it's still active and that your water is the right temperature: combine the water, yeast, and sugar in your mixing bowl. After 5 minutes, it should be bubbling and growing. Add in the flour, oil, and salt. This recipe requires little kneading and is tolerant of different methods, so you can either use a mixer (with either a dough hook or paddle attachment) or knead it with your hands until the dough comes together.

Remove the dough from your bowl and put in a tiny amount of oil (or cover the inside of the bowl with cooking spray), then roll the dough into a ball and return to the bowl. Turn the ball several times to cover with oil. Cover the dough with saran wrap or a wet towel and put it someplace warm to rise (an oven with the light on works well) until it has doubled in volume (roughly one hour).

While the dough is rising you can work on the filling.


Bubbles! It's working!


For this recipe, you can throw the ingredients all in together before mixing (with some doughs it is best to hold off on putting in the salt).


Yep, that goo turned into a ball of dough. All done!

The Filling


  • 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, divided (any other fat can be substituted)
  • ~4 cups of chopped vegetables
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (or several cloves)
  • 2 tablespoons AP flour (can substitute any other wheat flour)
  • 1-2 cups warm mushroom broth (can substitute beef, chicken, or vegetable broth)
  • salt and pepper (and any spices and herbs) to taste
  • ground beef, bacon, or other meat (optional)
  • cheese (optional)

Today I used onion, mushroom, celery, carrot, cabbage, squash, and tomato for the vegetables, and added onion powder, garlic powder, celery seed, thyme, tarragon, and Maggi seasoning.


Herbs and spices make up 1% of the food but 50% of this picture.


Saute the vegetables in one tablespoon of fat on medium-high heat, stirring often. If you are using any tomatoes or other juicy vegetables, save those to add at the end. If you are adding a non-lean meat, you can cook that first and use the drippings for the vegetables and roux. As the vegetables start to gain some color, add garlic, salt, pepper, and any spices and herbs. Cook for another minute and then add any juicy vegetables if necessary and turn the temperature to medium low. Stir occasionally while you work on the gravy (start whenever convenient).

To make a roux, heat the remaining two tablespoons of fat with the flour over medium heat, stirring often. Do not allow it to burn. You can make it as dark or as light as you like. Once you have the desired color (or are just ready to move on), add broth a small amount at a time, stirring to incorporate before adding more. If the gravy is too thin, allow it to boil until the desired consistency is reached. If it is too thick, add more broth or water.

Add the gravy to the vegetables, as well as any (cooked) meat and stir well. The mixture should be thick and quite saucy. Taste and reseason if necessary.


I started the roux and vegetables at the same time.


That looks like steam, but really it's amazing smells.


What's better than fresh tomatoes in summer? Feel free to comment with responses, but the correct answer is "D.N.E."


Adding the broth to the roux.


It gets thicker when you start mixing in the liquid.


Finished gravy added to the vegetables.


The filling is ready to go. It should be a bit wetter than you would think. Unless you think it should be pretty wet -- then you would be exactly right.

The Assembly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Punch down the dough and divide into equal sized spheres for however many buns you want to make. Either use a rolling pin or your fingers to spread it into a flat disk, then add the appropriate fraction of your filling to the top. Add some cheese at this point if desired. Fold the dough up the sides and pinch at the top. Turn it upside down and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all the dough and filling has been used. Allow to rise again for 15-20 minutes. If desired, brush tops with fat or eggwash before baking for about 10-15 minutes (depending on oven and size of buns). They are done when the tops turn a delicious shade of brown.


I made 16 balls. Powers of 2 are always easiest.


Roll (or spread) out a circle of dough.


How much filling to use is up to you. Hubris can lead to a mess, though.


Pull the edges up to the center.


Press in the corners and then place upside-down on the baking sheet.


They will rise a bit more prior to baking.

Protip: Make extra filling and then top it with mashed potatoes (and cheese if that's your thing) for a great shepherd's pie variant ready to be baked for dinner the next night. The hard part is finished for two meals, both of which make great leftovers.


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