Yes, another cheesesteak recipe! My Patreon family will tell you that I’ve been bouncing this Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns idea around in my head for a couple of months now. Originally it was just yeast rolls, but as time progressed it got slightly more complicated (only slightly, don’t be afraid)!
What makes Milk Buns different from other yeast bread is how it begins: with the tangzhong method. This is simply cooking a small amount of the flour along with water and milk to pre-gelatinize the starch in it. The dough gets more moisture, so you end up with a guaranteed super soft end result.
Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns Ingredients
Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns recipe:
- Bread flour: Yes, it has to be bread flour. Unbleached bread flour. I normally use White Lily. Bread flour has extra protein, which makes for extra gluten, and a soft, chewy interior.
- Whole milk, skim milk: The King Arthur recipe that I adapted for these calls for milk powder. I don’t keep that handy (if you have a bread machine you probably do) so I did the math and used an appropriate amount of skim milk instead.
- Eggs, melted butter: These lend themselves to color and texture and help bind things together early on. The second egg is to brush the outside of the buns with and is optional of course.
- Instant Yeast: It won’t rise without the yeast! You can use active dry yeast or instant yeast: the only difference is active dry yeast needs to ‘bloom’ for a few minutes before you add in the next batch of ingredients.
- Granulated sugar, fine sea salt: Two major components in any baked good. These Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns are no different.
- Shaved ribeye: You can use whatever type of steak you want or can find, but it needs to be either shaved or sliced as thinly as possible (against the grain). Why go through all the trouble of making the softest bread ever, only to wrap it around some tough ass meat? That’s a no-go.
- Sliced green bell-peppers: I always add bell peppers to my cheesesteaks if it’s an option, so of course I’m going to write it into this recipe. You do you. I prefer them sliced, but dicing might be neater to eat.
- Diced yellow onion: Any onion would work, but yellow or Vidalia onions will meld best of all. Not a huge fan of onions? If you fry them long enough when you’re making the filling, they’ll pretty much melt by the time the rolls have finished baking, leaving their slightly mellowed flavor behind.
- American Cheese: I used plain ol’ Kraft singles – a mix of white and yellow – for these. I was going for melty-creamy, not melty-stringy.
How to Make Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns
Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of these Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns:
- Make the starter. Place a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the water along with two tablespoons of bread flour and three tablespoons of whole milk. Whisk everything together, making sure there are no lumps. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it becomes thick and goopy, almost like a gel. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool down to room temperature. I like to cover it and chill it in the fridge.
- Make the dough. In the bowl of your stand mixer – or in a large mixing bowl if you’re using your hands or a hand mixer – add the melted butter, remaining whole milk, skim milk, sugar, salt, egg, and yeast. Next, add the starter. Use the flat beater attachment or a bench scraper to combine everything, then add the flour. Once a dough has formed, switch to the dough hook (or your hands) and knead for 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic. Add up to 1/4 cup more flour in one tablespoon increments, if needed, if it’s super sticky. Adding more flour than that will make for dense, heavy Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns.
- Shape and let rise. Lightly oil your hands and the inside of a large mixing bowl with vegetable oil. Use a bench scraper to remove the dough from the bowl you mixed it in, and your hands to shape it into a large ball. Place it in the oiled bowl and cover with a lid or kitchen towel. Place the bowl somewhere warm to rise for an hour and a half, until puffy.
- Make the filling. Grab a large skillet and set it over medium heat. Drizzle in a bit of oil and add your diced onions. Sprinkle in some salt and cook the onions, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or so. Increase the heat to medium-high if needed. You want the onions to soften and brown, and begin to fry around the edges. Once this happens, add in the steak. Cook until the pink is almost completely gone, then add the bell peppers. Once the peppers are softened to your liking, make sure everything is stirred together evenly and layer the slices of cheese over the surface. Once the cheese has melted, remove from heat and stir everything together. Set aside to cool until the dough has finished rising.
- Split the dough. After ninety minutes has passed uncover the dough and use a fingertip to gently poke the surface – don’t punch it! I know, I love punching it too, but we’re being gentle with this dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and use floured hands to shape it back into a ball, or pat it into a square. Use a sharp knife or bench scraper to separate the dough into 8 even pieces. We’re making eight large Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns.
- Form the buns. Use your fingers to gently flatten each sectioned off piece of dough into a large circle. Alternatively – or in addition to this – you can pick it up and pull it wide while rotating it in a circle, similar to shaping dough for pizza. Refer to the video tutorial for details. Once the circle is about 3-4″ in diameter, place a hefty couple of tablespoons of filling in the center. Pull the sides of the dough up over the filling, letting them overlap. Gather the ball into the palms of your hands and shape it gently into a ball while flattening the gathered side (the bottom).
- Prepare to bake the buns. Arrange the buns on a foil or parchment paper-lined baking sheet. It’s up to you if they touch or not – they’ll taste the same and the texture will be the same too, but they’ll have indentations on the sides where you have to pull them apart from others if you keep them close. They will spread just a tad as they rise and bake, so if you want perfect, undisturbed exteriors make sure you keep them at least a couple of inches apart. Let them rise for half an hour, while the oven preheats to 350°F. Once they are ready, brush the outside with a beaten egg and crack over some black pepper.
- Bake ’em. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes. If you stick a thermometer in the thickest part of the bread (this will be in the center towards the bottom) it should read around 190°F, but with the stuffing, it’s hard to use this method. Watch the timer and the color.
Switch it Up:
There are endless variations that you can make with this Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns recipe, so please feel free to customize yours to taste! For example, you could…
- Omit or replace the peppers. You don’t see the word Philadelphia or any of its variations on this post for a reason: I know how the natives feel about peppers in cheesesteaks. You can leave them out if you like, or maybe try adding sweet peppers, or pepperoncini.
- Use your favorite cheese. As I said earlier, I wanted creamy insides, not stringy. If you want both I recommend replacing half of the cheese called for in the recipe with provolone or mozzarella. If you’re really about that stringy cheese life or have an aversion to processed cheese, replace all of it.
- Swap the protein. I’m sure we’ve all seen the chicken cheesesteaks and salmon cheesesteaks. These Cheesesteak Stuffed Milk Buns are just as versatile. Play around with ’em.