It’s impossible to forget the first time you have Turkish cheese buns for breakfast because they’re so darn good and indulgent. Called sakallı poğaça (bearded buns), they consist of soft buns sliced in halves and filled with labne and parsley. So savory, so buttery, so creamy! If you’ve got the chance to go to a Turkish bakery do have one, but know that homemade cheese buns are just as tasty. Better even.
Breakfast in Turkey is a savory affair. Go to any Turkish bakery in the morning and you’ll be hit with the delicious smell of freshly baked pastries. But forget about croissants, cookies and cakes! Instead think salty rolls or pastries filled with cheese, olives, or mashed potatoes! Whether you pick a boyoz (puff pastry rolls), a gevrek/simit (crusty sesame bagel), an açma (brioche-y roll), or a poğaça (fluffy bun), with or without fillings, you’ll be spoiled for choice. I won’t even attempt to list out the regional specialties! All you need to know is that you can’t go wrong, especially if you’ve got a cup of black tea to go along with your savory pastry! I do have a soft spot for kaşarlı poğaça (bigger buns filled with melting cheese) but these cheese buns remain my favorite kind of poğaça. They are rich but because of their small size you’ll easily finish one, and then happily eat a couple more.
EASY YEAST DOUGH
If you don’t feel confident about making yeast dough, do not worry, you won’t find an easier dough to work with! First, it’s a very easy dough to knead by hand that comes together easily. As long as you grease the working surface and ‘work’ energetically, your dough will turn smooth and bouncy in 5 min, promise. If it sticks too much to the working surface, add a bit more oil. With this type of dough I don’t sprinkle flour on the working surface because it dries up the cheese buns. Second, you don’t have to prove the dough for hours and hours on end so you’ll be able to enjoy your cheese buns relatively quickly.
This type of small cheese buns can be filled with different cheeses. The most common in Turkey are krem peynir (cream cheese), labne (thick cream cheese), or a mixture of beyaz peynir (feta-like cheese) & labne. I prefer labne which is rich, creamy, mild with slightly sour notes since it’s made from strained yogurt. When unavailable (because I’m too lazy to go to a Turkish grocery store), I like to use whipped cream cheese. Sure it lacks the acidity of labne but you can always whisk in a few drops of lemon juice. Whipped cream cheese is super easy to spread and I can buy it anywhere. Convenience wins!
To switch things up don’t hesitate to roll the edges of the cheese buns in different garnishes; chopped ham, grated cheese, chili flakes, diced sundried tomatoes… Have fun! For more substantial cheese buns, roll the dough into 5 balls instead of 10 and increase the bake time by 3 to 5 min.
Feel like having a full-on traditional Turkish breakfast? Here are some of my favorite recipes:Print
Sakallı poğaça are small Turkish cheese buns traditionally served for breakfast. The buttery soft buns are sliced and filled with cream cheese and parsley, giving you the creamiest, most savory cheese buns ever!
For the dough:
- 90ml whole milk (⅓ cup)
- 70g butter, diced (5 tbsp or 2.5 oz)
- 1 tsp caster sugar, heaped
- 250g all-purpose flour (1 ¾ cups)
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 5g instant yeast (1 ½ tsp)
- 1 egg
For the topping:
- egg wash: whisk 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp water
- 15g melted butter (1 tbsp)
For the filling:
- 450g labne or whipped cream cheese (2 cups or 16 oz)
- 10 sprigs of parsley, leaves only
- Make the dough. Place the butter, milk and sugar into a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter has fully melted. It should only take a few minutes. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and wait until it cools down. Place the flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl, mix to combine and then make a well in the center. Beat the egg in a separate bowl. Check the temperature of the milk mixture. When it reaches 43°C (110°F) (it should feel lukewarm to the touch) or below you can pour it over the flour. Add the beaten egg and bring the ingredients together using one of your hands. Keep mixing until a soft dough is formed.
- Knead the dough. Tip the dough over a lightly greased work surface and knead it for 5 min, until you have a smooth dough that bounces back when pressed with a finger. Form the dough into a ball and place it into a lightly oiled mixing bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Leave to rise until doubled in size, about 1h, in a warm place. I usually preheat the oven to the lowest temperature for a couple of minutes, turn off the oven, and place the dough there.
- Shape the buns. Gently push the dough to deflate it and divide it into 10 equal-sized pieces. Roll each piece into a neat ball and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, spacing them evenly (they’ll rise again and need a little bit of room). Cover the buns with oiled clingfilm and leave to rise at room temperature for 30 min. They don’t have to double in size, they only have to puff up a bit.
- Bake. Preheat the oven to 180°C (355°F)*. Lightly brush the top of the buns with egg wash. Bake for 20 min, until golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven and immediately brush the buns with melted butter. Wait for 5 min then transfer them to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
- Fill the cheese buns. Roughly chop the parsley and mix a third of it into the cheese. Slice the buns nearly all the way through but do not split into 2 halves. Spread the bottom half of each bun with 1 (generous) tbsp of cheese. Lightly press the buns and roll the edges in the remaining chopped parsley to coat them.
*165°C (330°F) is using a convection oven
The cheese buns are best eaten on the day they are made.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 246
Keywords: turkish breakfast, savory brunch