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Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen book “America’s Best Lost Recipes”
They’re a little work, but the result is a delicious cheeseburger in a bun that will please many picky eaters. I have successfully made this recipe with frozen TVP crumbles from the grocery store, just add a bit more butter to the recipe. They’re a favorite of mine because they reheat well in the microwave.
8 slices of good melting cheese, either American, Fontina or whatever you like.
Lightly grease a large bowl with cooking spray or shortening. Mix the water, condensed milk, oil sugar and egg in a bowl. Mix the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a larger mixing bowl if doing this step by hand. With the mixer on low, add the water mixture. If doing this by hand, add some water mix, stir, add some more water mix, stir, you know the drill. Mix until the dough comes together. Turn the mixer on medium and mix until shiny and smooth, about 4 to 6 minutes. If doing this by hand, be sparing with the flour when kneading. Use a bench scraper and keep at it, the dough will dry out a bit as the gluten develops. It will, however, be a bit more tender than basic bread dough. Turn out the dough on a floured surface, form into a ball,place the ball in the greased large bowl and turn over. You want a bit of the grease on the top of the dough to prevent it from drying out. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to rise until doubled in size, about an hour. In the meantime, make the filling.
Melt 1 Tb of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until just done and beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Break up all the clumps as it cooks. You want this mix to be uniform, like sloppy joe hamburger. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a paper towel lined plate for later. Pour off all but 2 Tb of fat (or see note below) add the onion and cook until transparent but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the cabbage and toss until just beginning to wilt, about 3 minutes. You don't want to overcook the cabbage at this point. It will cook through in the oven, and you want a little bite left after baking the bun. Return the beef to the pan and season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble the bun:
Adjust the oven racks to upper middle and lower middle position. Preheat to 350 degrees. Lightly oil two cookie sheets. Pull out a small, deep cereal bowl to help form the buns. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces using your bench scraper or a knife. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 7 inch circle. Drape the dough into the cereal bowl. Place one piece of melting cheese in the bottom of the dough-lined bowl, then spoon 3/4 cup of filling on top of the cheese. Pinch the bun shut securely. If you need to, use a dab of water to ensure the bun is truely sealed. If it's not secure, the cheese will run out (guess how I figured that one out?) Now, take up the cereal bowl in one hand and invert it onto the other hand, then carefully slide the bun onto the cookie sheet, four buns to a sheet. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and allow to rise again until puffy, about 20 minutes. Bake the buns until golden brown, about 20 minutes, switching and rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time. Remove your yummy creations from the oven and brush with the remaining butter and serve.
I have been known to cheat with the beef by using 2 lbs of cheaper 80% ground beef, and after reserving some of the fat for the onion frying I rinse the beef in a colander. This sounds weird, but it cuts down on the calories from fat and doesn’t adversely affect the finished bun.