Beside bakery crescent zsemle or Hungarian bun is the other fundamental bakery product in Hungary. Nevertheless finding good zsemle in the stores is almost perfectly impossible, as hard as finding good bread. Things are a bit better in the bakeries. If you are lucky and the baker is a conscientious representative of his profession, you can discover enjoyable and substantial buns instead of puffed up, chewy and spongy ones. But once you taste a homemade bun, you will realize that this is the best solution and it’s unnecessary to go on searching.
The critical point that determines the quality of zsemle is the bun’s soft part. First of all it must exist, in many buns instead of dough there is air in the place of the soft part. Then it must not be crumbly and arid, its consistency must be light and firm, but not stiff. Zsemle can be made from all purpose flour or bread flour. If you choose all purpose flour, it should be combined with other kind of flour or gluten should be added since the gluten content of all purpose flour is low. You can use leaven if you have time to make it, but plain yeast will also do.
Zsemle can be maked into a sandwich for breakfast or mid-afternoon snack. But it also shows up in several Hungarian dishes, many recipes call for zsemle as a basis for various stuffings.
- 700 g (~5 1/2 cups) white bread flour
- 450 ml (between 1 3/4 and 2 cups) lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp. oil
- 40 g fresh yeast (~4 tsp dry yeast)
- 1/4 tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. salt
In a small bowl add sugar to the fresh yeast and dissolve in 100 ml of lukewarm water.
Measure out the bread flour in a big bowl.
Add the activated yeast and the remaining ingredients.
Knead the dough until it becomes light and elastic.
Flour all side of the dough, cover the bowl and in a warm place let the dough rise until doubled.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
When the dough doubled, knead it again and divide into 12 equal parts.
Form balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets.
Leave 5-6 cm space between the buns for expansion.
Let the buns double.
Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
Place the buns in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until tops are light brown.
Take them out and immediately brush tops lightly with water.
Let the buns cool on a rack.