Zsömle or zsemle? It’s much the same as the North American “tomato or “tomahto” debate. The only difference is Hungarian is a phonetic language, which means the spelling is the same as the pronunciation. In my family, we all called it zsömle, hencefort that is how I shall call these crusty buns.

The everyday zsömle is a real crusty bun, both light and chewy at the same time. My grandma brought more zsömle up from the Dairy Store than anything else. She would time it when the morning truck arrived from the bakery with several baskets of still warm zsömle and kifli. I suppose we ate more zsömle then anything else, it was easier to make it into a sandwich for our tizórai or uzsonna [morning and afternoon snacks]. Most of the time we took buttered zsömle to school. Oh, once in a while we had a couple of slices of téliszalámi [Hungarian salami] between our zsömle, but this didn’t happen very often. Whenever someone had a téliszalámis zsömle the entire class ate in longing silence. The zsömle shows up in several Hungarian dishes, fasirt, meatloaf, zsemlegombóc. Zsömle is also the basis for various stuffing in meats and vegetables. These buns are not readily available where I live and in a lot of my recipes I had to replace them with sourdough or light rye bread. Suffice to say, the original recipes all called for zsömle.

I make two types of zsömle, the authentic crusty bun and a softer, one egg bun. There is a textural difference; the one containing the egg is softer and less chewy than the original zsömle. For stuffing, I like the original zsömle. But as a dinner bun, we like the softer zsömle the best. Both of these buns slice like a dream.

Crusty Buns
3-1/2 cups white bread flour
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1-1/8 cups lukewarm water
1 egg for eggwash

Dinner Buns
3-1/2 cups white bread flour
2-1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1/2 Tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg
1 cup lukewarm water
1 egg for egg wash

Weather you make the crusty buns or the dinner buns, both of these recipes make 12 fair sized buns. Though the ingredients vary slightly, the preparation is the same.

• Measure out the bread flour with the 1/2 cup measure and sweep method and set it aside.
• Place the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and whisk them to combine.
• Gradually add the reserved bread flour to the bowl.
• When the dough forms kneed in a mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes, or on a floured board by hand for ten minutes. The dough should be very elastic.
• Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and turn it over to grease all sides.
• Cover the bowl with plastic and let the dough rise until doubled.
• Punch down and divide dough into 12 parts.
• Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
• Form 12 balls and place them on the prepared baking sheet.
• Leave 2 inch spaces between the buns for expansion.
• Whisk the egg and brush the top of the buns with the egg wash using a pastry brush.
• Let the buns double.
• Preheat oven to 400F.
• Brush the tops with the egg wash again.
• Place the buns in a preheated oven and bake until tops are golden brown and the bottoms are crusty.
• Remove buns from the oven and immediately brush tops lightly with water.
• Place the buns on a wire rack to cool.

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It began with posting a few recipes on line for my family. "zsuzsa is in the kitchen" has more than 1000 Hungarian and International recipes. What started out as a private project turned into a well visited blog. The number of visitors long passed the two million mark. I organized my recipes into an on-line cookbook. On top of the page click on the cookbook to access the recipes. I am not profiting from my blog, so my visitors will not be harassed with advertising or flashy gadgets. Feel free to cut and paste my recipes for your own use. Publication is permitted as long as it is in your own words and with your own photographs. However, I would ask you for an acknowledgement and link-back to my blog. Happy cooking!