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Keep warm with these tasty twists from Katie Mitzel's Rocky Mountain Cooking.
For the past 20 years, Katie Mitzel has been making her way through the Rocky Mountains, but her activity of choice isn’t backcountry skiing: It’s cooking.
The remote lodges that dot the Canadian wilderness—from Lake Louise’s Skoki Lodge to the accessible-only-by-helicopter Battle Abbey Lodge—have offered offbeat kitchens for Mitzel to hone her comfort-food craft, and she’s made a career of offering a little home cooking in these most remote of locations.
In new cookbook, Rocky Mountain Cooking, she shares the dishes inspired by a life of back-country bliss, including these twisty cheese buns that make regularly braving bear encounters and -40°C winters worthwhile. “It might seem a bit intimidating at first, what with all the folding and twisting, but the results are so worth the effort,” says Mitzel. Just like life in the mountains, really.
From Rocky Mountain Cooking by Katie Mitzel
1 cup 2% milk
4 tbsp granulated sugar, divided
2 tbsp active dry yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading 1 tsp kosher salt
8 tbsp salted butter, cold, cubed
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp salted butter, melted
2 cups grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten + 1 tsp water, for egg wash
In a saucepan over medium heat, gently warm the milk, but do not bring to even a simmer. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Stir to dissolve the sugar, sprinkle the yeast in, stir very gently, and then let the mixture sit for about
8 to 10 minutes. When the yeast is bubbly and frothy, it is ready.
In a food processor, pulse the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar, flour, and salt to just combine. Add the butter and pulse to make a coarse mixture. (If you do not have a food processor, use a pastry cutter or two forks.)
With the machine running, add the egg yolks. Process until the mixture is smooth and sticky. Transfer it to a large mixing bowl and add the yeast mixture. Using your hands, bring the dough together until you have a lumpy, shaggy dough with no dry spots of flour (about 2 minutes).
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, adding extra flour as necessary to keep the dough from sticking. Using both hands, knead the dough. Press the centre of the dough with the heels of your hands, then push them onto the dough and away from you. Using quarter turns, pull the dough back toward you with the heels of your hands, adding only enough extra our to keep the dough from sticking. Continue this process until you begin to feel air developing in the dough and it is smooth and slightly tacky and springs back when poked with your finger. This whole process should take between 8 and 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a large mixing bowl, place the dough in it, turning once to ensure the whole ball is covered in oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or up to overnight.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge and allow it to sit for 10 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll it out into an 18-by-15-inch rectangle. Lightly dust the dough with flour if the rolling pin is sticking. Work slowly if you are encountering air bubbles.
Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cheese overtop. Sprinkle with the thyme and pepper to taste. Fold the dough in half horizontally. Using your fingers, pinch together the long edges where they meet, ensuring everything is held fast. Roll the dough out again, this time to about an 18-by- 10-inch rectangle. You may find some more air bubbles under the surfacework these out slowly so the dough doesn’t rupture.
Using a long, sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 10-inch-long, 1/2-inch-wide strips. You should get 16 to 20 strips. Pinch the tops of 2 strips to keep them together. Twist the two pieces around each other until they are closely but not tightly wound. Holding the end down, wrap the twisted dough around itself so it is circular and flat. Pinch the loose end tightly to the underside of the bun and place on a prepared baking sheet.
Brush the buns with the egg wash and bake, side by side, on the middle rack of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating them 180 degrees halfway through to ensure they brown evenly.
Remove from the baking sheets and let cool on a wire rack. I sometimes put a piece of butter on them as they come out of the oven to melt overtop. Makes 8 to 10 buns.
Excerpted from Rocky Mountain Cooking by Katie Mitzel. Copyright © 2019 Katie Mitzel. Published by Appetite by Random House,® a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher. All rights reserved.
This story was originally published on December 2, 2019.
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