Say ‘cheese’


For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be just like my mom.  Mom worked very hard but never seemed tired.  Every morning she arose at 4am and read in the kitchen till she left for work at 7am.  She was always laughing and was incessantly patient and kind, without a sarcastic bone in her body.  (Needless to say, I am nothing like her.)  Seeking escape from the Richmond district fog, she’d drive us across the Golden Gate Bridge to sunny Marin—to McDonalds off Seminary Drive.

I would get a cheeseburger.

Mom took a lot of overnight call—often twice a week—and on those days Dad would cook.  He had a limited repertoire, mostly involving frozen ground beef patties.  But once a month or so he’d take us to >>Mel’s Junior Drive-In<< on Geary Boulevard.

I would get a cheeseburger.

I always got the cheeseburger. I would fastidiously open the treasured burger and remove the pickles and throw them away.  I LOVED CHEESEBURGERS.  So today I decided to make a cheeseburger dumpling.

These two words really just don’t go together:  cheeseburger. dumpling. bah.

Cheeseburger Dumplings

makes 18

For the dough, I turned to The Model Bakery Cookbook, by Mitchell & Hansen.  Their Buttermilk Biscuit recipe is wonderful, so I tried their recipe for Hamburger Buns.


Poolish:  Mix together 1/3 cup bread flour + 1/3 cup water +1/8 tsp instant yeast.  I added a tsp of sugar.  cover and let stand in a warm place for 1.5 hours, till foamy on top.


Scrape poolish into bowl of a Kitchenaid mixer fitted with the paddle, and add

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup water

2 large eggs

2 1/8 tsp instant yeast

1 tbsp + 1 tsp sugar

1.5 tsp kosher salt (I used 3/4 tsp)

3 1/2 cups bread flour

Turn the mixer on low and mix just until the ingredients are combined.  Let sit 10 minutes.  Change the paddle out for the dough hook.

Add 3 tablespoons of room temperature butter, one tablespoon at a time, waiting until each tablespoon is fully incorporated before adding the next.  At this point, the dough should be kneaded for a long time to develop the gluten.  This is an excellent opportunity to experience therapeutic benefits of kneading; the rhythm and tactile exercise of kneading cause release of happy endorphins and a general feeling of well-being.  I prefer to wallow in misery and instead left it in the mixer on low speed for a full 8 minutes. Gather the dough into a ball, place in a oiled bowl, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.


This is a good time to make the cheeseburger filling:

3 large onions, diced.  Caramelize the onions by browning them in a large wide pot, then add a little wine, and turn down to very low heat and let them cook for AT LEAST 30 minutes (45 is better), stirring ever so often.  They should be creamy soft and sweet. I used half the onions–but there is no use in caramelizing just 1 1/2 onions—if you are going to take the time to caramelize onions, make a lot and add the rest to several other dishes because caramelized onions are THE BOMB and make everything taste better.


1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin.  Buy better ground beef at the butcher.

several squirts of ketchup

2 tsp coarse ground mustard

3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

2 cups shredded cheese

1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper


Mix the beef, cheese, ketchup, mustard, relish, salt, pepper and caramelized onions together till well blended (I dumped it in my kitchenaid mixer).  Take a small amount and cook it in the microwave and taste it.  Add more salt and pepper if needed.


Gather up the risen dough, knead it a few seconds, then cut into 18 pieces, forming each into a ball.  Take one ball of dough and, using both thumbs, form a flat cup.  Using an ice cream scoop (2.5 tablespoon size), scoop a generous amount of beef filling into the cup.  Gather the sides of the dough together and pinch, sealing the top.  Throw the dumpling back and forth between your hands a few times to smooth out the top, then place, sealed side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Flatten with the palm of your hand into a 4 inch disc.  Repeat with remaining balls of dough.  Let rise 30 minutes.  Brush with egg wash, and bake in 375 oven x 16 minutes.  I baked these on a pizza stone that always sits on the bottom rack of my oven (put the baking sheet on top of the stone) which conducts the heat better.



1. These leaked juice out of most of the dumplings, so the bottoms were juicy but fine.

2.  These tasted nothing like cheeseburgers. If you want a cheeseburger I recommend you go to In N Out. These are more like a piroshki except baked, not fried.  The bread is Delicious with good flavor and texture.  The filling is tender and tasty, just nothing like a cb.

3.  dear hubby’s reaction was “WOW, these are good”.

4. I can’t even tell there’s cheese in the filling.

5.  I’m now eating my third cbd and the great thing about these is I can hold one in my left hand while typing with my right; they are not messy. I predict breakfast in the car tomorrow.

6.  I need french fries.  now.

7.  Not sure I’d make these again (I’m going to In N Out) but I will DEFINITELY make this bread dough again–rolls, or a different filling.  Actually, I’m pretty sure if I put the Char Siu Bao filling in these, they’ll turn out like the Baked Char Siu Bao from Clement Street.  Tomorrow. I’m making them tomorrow.

8.  I don’t take call anymore, and I NEVER get up at 4am, but I proudly claim my sloping shoulders and gray hair as mom’s legacy.

9.  I have the Veggie Tales Cheeseburger song stuck in my head




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