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Milk Street Bowtie Colombian Cheese Buns (Almojábanas)

Colombian Cheese Buns (Almojábanas)

20 buns
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Savory but lightly sweetened and with a moist, chewy crumb, almojábanas are cheesy, bun-shaped breads that we first tasted in Ubaté—Colombia’s center of dairy production. The region boasts an abundance of locally made cheeses, such as cuajada and campesino, two types often used in the making of almojábanas. Cuajada and campesino are high in moisture and low in fat, so despite the impressive amounts we saw mixed into almojábana dough, the baked buns were always soft and airy, never greasy or heavy. To replicate that texture using ingredients readily available in the U.S., we turned to a combination of low-fat cottage cheese, salty cotija and Oaxacan cheese. Cotija is dry and crumbly, whereas queso Oaxaca is creamy and mozzarella-like; both are Mexican cheeses that can be found in Latin American grocery stores, as well as most well-stocked supermarkets. In addition to bread flour, masarepa—the precooked, fine-ground cornmeal used to make arepas—is a key ingredient in many traditional recipes. Though it may look similar to products like masa or masa harina, they are not interchangeable—the aforementioned are made from nixtamalized corn, meaning the grain has been treated with an alkali. Corn flour or cornmeal, which are dried and ground but not precooked, won’t do the trick either. Finally, many cooks also add tapioca starch, also called tapioca flour, which contributes the buns’ characteristic chewiness; look for it alongside the cornstarch or alternative flours. Store extra buns in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days; reheat in a 400°F oven for about five minutes before serving.

20

buns

Tip

Don’t use full-fat cottage cheese; it will cause the buns to spread far too much. Be sure to select the small-curd, low-fat variety with either one or two percent milkfat.

16 ounce container low-fat small-curd cottage cheese
1 large egg
240 grams (2 cups plus 3 tablespoons) tapioca starch
137 grams (1 cup) bread flour
37 grams (¼ cup) white or yellow masarepa
39 grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon table salt
8 ounces queso Oaxaca cheese, shredded (2 cups)
8 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (2 cups)
Ingredients
  • 16

    ounce container low-fat small-curd cottage cheese

  • 1

    large egg

  • 240

    grams (2 cups plus 3 tablespoons) tapioca starch

  • 137

    grams (1 cup) bread flour

  • 37

    grams (¼ cup) white or yellow masarepa

  • 39

    grams (3 tablespoons) white sugar

  • 2

    teaspoons baking powder

  • ¾

    teaspoon table salt

  • 8

    ounces queso Oaxaca cheese, shredded (2 cups)

  • 8

    ounces cotija cheese, crumbled (2 cups)

Directions

Colombian Cheese Buns (Almojábanas)

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