Years ago, my mother-in-law served sandwiches called bierocks for lunch. I loved them so much that I got the recipe and have tried to make them a handful of times since, but with out any real instruction on volumes and technique. Though the flavor has always been good, I never quite could get them wrapped in their dough casing quite to my satisfaction.
Last week, while in Kansas, mom had a friend and her daughter come over to give us a lesson in the bierock. Have you ever imagined the quilting bees of old? When friends, family, neighbors come over to complete a task as a community...well that is exactly what this felt like. The whole family participated in the task and knocked out 87 of these wonderful sandwiches in just a couple of hours.
The origin of the bierock goes back to a Eastern European, German or Russian, influence of the late 1800's and has so many contemporary possibilities. We did a fairly traditional beef and cabbage stuffing, but I think the sky is the limit. I plan to have our Tastebuds group come up with creative sandwich stuffing and tackle them as a challenge. You could go sweet or savory, and one that pops immediately to mind is a kicked up Reuben sandwich.
I learned a lot during our little lesson. I was cutting my dough rounds too small and not using near enough stuffing. We also found that the second baking (when reheating or coming from the freezer) makes the dough light, crisp and perfect all around. All wonderful little tidbits of knowledge coming from a fun morning in a shared kitchen.
Here is the classic recipe and I am looking forward to pushing the boundaries on it.
Bierocks (double recipe, we got the 87 on a triple recipe)
9 Cups flour + 1 cup (for kneading)
1/4 C. dry milk
1/4 C. instant potatoes
1/4 C. yeast
3/4 C. sugar
1 Tbsp. salt
3/4 C. oleo (butter, very soft)
4 C. warm water
Put all dry ingredients into a large ziploc bag and combine (this can be done well ahead and in batches. Place warm water and oleo in stand mixer and mix in all dry ingredients until fully combined. Pour out onto surface floured with additional 1 Cup flour and knead dough until smooth. Place in greased bowl, in warm place covered to rise.
4 lbs. ground sirloin, browned & drained
1 lb. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 head cabbage, shredded
3 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. beef base
1 Tbsp. onion flakes
dash celery salt
(these last items are all to taste and we used generous amounts :)
Once the dough has risen (about an hour) roll out dough to 1/4 " thick (in two or three batches is best) and use a large round to make cuts (we used the lid from a two gallon pitcher). Using a 2" ice cream scoop, place meat in center of dough rings and fold the dough around sealing the meat in. Place seam side down on cookie sheet. Set aside to rise for an additional 20-30 minutes and then bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Once out of oven brush with melted butter and let cool. You can eat when cool, freeze, or refrigerate for later. They are really best once re-heated in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes. The dough becomes a light, crisp casing that melts in your mouth.
**Have any extra dough? roll it out, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar and bake for a sweet treat for the kids.