Come summer and party season sneaks up on us ever so swiftly, calling for rolled up sleeves, apron strings tied taut, hair rolled up into messy buns, and the conscientious exertion of elbow grease, even though we hardly complain. With two Arian birthdays – of our girls – almost back to back in our houses, there’s no time to peak and pine or wonder and whine, and we get right down to work in the days leading up to the celebrations. We’re always looking for fun party food ideas, especially finger foods, to keep the hungry little ones munching hassle-free, as they soak in the revelry.
What really helps us ease into the process is a good recipe that offers itself to possibilities – vegetarian, simple, and aesthetically approvable. We found one for pizza buns, and they turned out really well: with a layer of cheese and spiced up toppings sizzling and heaving merrily in the concentric doughy circles that contain them. Between the counter and the oven, and between kneading, deflating, rolling and sprinkling, there were moments that felt almost zen-like – somewhat in the vein of what a slowdance would bring. This is why we love baking, and if popular vote is to be counted, pizza tops the list of baked goodies at our parties and there’s really no way to beat that, is there, other than make it?
Pizza Pinwheel Buns
- 300 ml warm milk
- 2½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3½ cups all purpose flour / maida
- 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon chilli flakes
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 capsicum, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup pizza sauce
- ½ cup chopped sundried tomatoes, optional
- 200g pizza cheese or mix of Cheddar and Mozzarella cheese, grated
- 50g garlic butter, melted, optional
- Place the warm milk in a large mixing bowl. Stir the yeast and sugar into the milk. Cover and set aside until it bubbles and froths.
- Stir the flour into the milk and then add 3 tablespoons olive oil. Mix into a shaggy dough, cover and let rest for about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle in the chilli flakes, oregano and salt, and then knead the dough for about 10 minutes, until it is soft and supple, taking a couple of breaks in between to rest the dough and your arms.
- Cover the dough and set it aside to rise for about 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.
- Meanwhile heat the oil in a small saucepan and lightly sauté the onion, capsicum and garlic for a couple of minutes. Stir in the chilli flakes and oregano. Set the vegetables aside.
- Prepare two large baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper and set aside.
- Gently deflate the risen dough and press it into a rough square shape. Roll out the dough into a rectangle that is around 20″ by 12″.
- Spread the sauce thinly on the rolled dough, leaving a half inch border on one of the 20″ sides. Now sprinkle the cheese all over, and then the sundried tomatoes (if using) and sautéed vegetables, leaving the border bare.
- Now roll up the dough as tightly as possible, starting at the longer end which has no border. Once the dough is rolled up, pinch the end with the border to seal up the roll.
- Use a piece of dental floss to cut the dough into slices, a scant inch wide. To do this take a string of floss about 12″ long. Put some flour on the counter and slide the middle of the floss through it lightly. Hold the two ends of the floss and slide it under the roll. Now bring the ends together and pull in the opposite direction until a neat slice is cut. Place the slice on the prepared baking sheet keeping about 1″ space around it. Sliding the floss through the flour will help to slide it under the dough easily. Cut about 18-20 rolls from the dough using the same technique.
- Cover the sheets and allow the rolls to rise for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180ºC.
- Brush the rolls lightly with the melted garlic butter if desired, and bake for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown.
- Let the rolls cool slightly on the baking sheet before you serve them or move them to a cooling rack. You can brush the hot rolls again with the garlic butter before serving if you like.
If you’d like to freeze some or all of the rolls, let them cool completely on a rack and then wrap them well in foil. Place the buns in a food storage bag and freeze.
To serve the buns, allow them to defrost on the counter still wrapped. Then place on a baking sheet, cover loosely with foil and warm them in a 180ºC oven for about 10 minutes or until hot. Serve right away.
Adapted from Pizza Party Buns