Four-Leaf Clover Broccoli & Cheddar Buns for St. Patrick’s Day

Broccoli Cheddar Clover Buns | Breadin5 (2 of 5)

They say that everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and I hope that’s true, because I loved my trip to Ireland—the music, the literature, the Guinness Stout, and yes, the food. It’s been many years since I was in Ireland, but I remember swooning over the fresh, wild salmon, buttered potatoes (of course), and the moist and flavorful brown bread. But brown bread’s not particularly festive (or green!), and I don’t have a recipe for classic Irish soda bread, which is made without yeast (for that, I rely on James Beard’s recipe in Beard on Bread—the first bread I ever made). But there is a broccoli & cheddar bun recipe in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Turns out four-leaf clovers aren’t especially Irish, but they’re very lucky! Sprinkled with cheese, these cheddar buns make a lovely and healthy accompaniment to corned beef and cabbage. One little disclosure—the broccoli doesn’t make it all that deeply green, as you can see. Some would have used green food coloring, I suppose. Bain taitneamh as do bhéil! Hearty appetite (I think).

Here’s what you’ll need for three batches of eight buns:

15 ounces (about 5 cups) raw broccoli florets

1 1/2 cups water for cooking the broccoli

3 cups whole wheat flour

4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon granulated yeast (active dry, instant; doesn’t really matter)

1 tablespoons kosher or other coarse salt (can increase to 1 1 /2 to taste)

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

1 3/4 cups lukewarm water

Oil or butter for greasing the muffin tin

1 cup  shredded cheddar cheese for sprinkling on the buns, per batch 

Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil and add the broccoli, cooking on medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes.  Do not overcook or broccoli will lose its bright green color and turn bitter.

Puree the broccoli and cooking water in a blender or food processor (won’t become completely smooth).  Set aside to cool slightly.

Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt, and vital wheat gluten in a 5-quart bowl, or in a lidded (non-airtight) food container. 

Add the 1 3/4 cups water and broccoli puree and mix w/o kneading, using a spoon, Danish dough whisk, 14-cup food processor, or heavy-duty stand mixer (with paddle).  You might need to use wet hands to get the last bit of flour to incorporate if you’re not using a machine.  For more details on mixing and using our whole grain doughs, see the post about the basic method from Healthy Bread in Five.

Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temp until it rises and collapses (or flattens on top), about 2 hours.  Dough can then be used immediately, although it’s easier to handle when cold.  Refrigerate in a non-airtight lidded container and use over the next 7 days.

On baking day, grease a muffin pan.  Dust surface of refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 1/2 pound piece (cantaloupe-sized) piece.  Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape a loose ball.  Form the buns by dividing the ball into 8 roughly equal portions, each about the size of a plum…

Keep going…

Again, into eighths…

… so that you have eight plum-sized pieces.  Cut each of these into 4 smaller pieces.  Dust and shape each one into a ball and put the 4 balls together and fit them into the cups of the muffin tin.

Allow to rest, loosely covered with plastic wrap, for 40 minutes (or 20 minutes if you’re using fresh unrefrigerated dough).  Refrigerated dough doesn’t rise much in this resting phase.

If you’re using a baking stone, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, 30 minutes before baking time.  If you’re not using one, a 5 to 10 minute preheat is enough.  Place an empty broiler tray on any other rack that won’t interfere with the rising buns.

Just before baking, sprinkle the buns with the grated cheese, being careful not to get it on the pan.  Depending on the shape and depth of your muffin cups, you may need less than called for in the Ingredients list.  In practice, for these buns and this tin, it was less than a tablespoon of cheese per bun:

Broccoli Cheddar Clover Buns | Breadin5 (3 of 5)

Place the muffin tin directly on the hot stone (or a middle shelf of the oven).  Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray, and quickly close the oven door.  Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until the cheese is nicely browned.

Remove buns from the pan and allow to cool slightly before eating.  Unlike large loaf breads, these can be eaten warm without any risk of them being gummy or appearing to be under-baked.

Broccoli Cheddar Clover Buns | Breadin5 (1 of 5)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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34 thoughts on “Four-Leaf Clover Broccoli & Cheddar Buns for St. Patrick’s Day

  1. If you want to make it really green, add some fresh spinach when you puree the broccoli. Baby spinach (usually sold in bags or plastic tubs) doesn’t have as strong of a taste or texture so the broccoli will shine through. We use it in other bread casserole recipes, I’m looking forward to trying a version of this.

    1. and by baby spinach, I don’t mean the baby food, I mean baby leaves of spinach, although that would probably work in a pinch too.

  2. In honor of my Mom’s passing almost 2 years ago (March 26, 2010). She “got away from us” (as the Irish say) much too soon.


    4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
    3 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    2 tsp caraway seeds
    1 cup raisins
    2 cups buttermilk (or milk soured with 2 Tbsp. lemon juice)

    Mix & sift dry ingredients into a bowl, add seeds & raisins. Stir in enough milk to make a soft dough. Turn onto floured board, knead with extra flour till no longer sticky (about 1 minute). Shape into a flat round loaf and place in greased pan or skillet; cut a cross into the top of the bread.

    Bake at 375 F. for 15 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 F. for 25 minutes. Cool on rack.


    “Brown” (Whole Wheat) Soda Bread

    3 c. whole wheat flour
    1 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
    1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    1/3 c. brown sugar
    3 Tbsp. butter
    1 c. raisins
    1 3/4 c. milk
    Dash of orange juice (or tiny bit of orange extract)

    Measure dry ingredients, add butter and work into crumbs. Add raisins and mix, then add milk and orange juice. Follow directions for white soda bread.

    1. hi Peg,

      I was reading your touching tribute to your mom. Very nice.

      I was wondering why Irish soda breads have caraway seeds in them. Does it really add to the flavor?

      I hope Jeff and Zoe will permit me this question and that you enjoyed the holiday.


      1. Hi Judy,

        Caraway is a very strong flavor, so it will be dominant in any recipe. If you are not a fan of it, I suggest you leave it out.

        I would use fresh rosemary in your recipe.

        Thanks, Zoë

      2. Hi Judy, and Zoe & Jeff,

        Yes, the caraway is a strong flavor, so I agree if you really don’t like it, try the recipe without it. I love caraway so I never thought of not using them!

        I do have to say, that with the sweet raisins, it does seem to balance out. If you don’t mind the flavor, give it a try with the caraway seeds … which, by the way, are very good for digestion. If you have a tummy ache, chewing a bit of caraway seeds really helps! 🙂

        Many blessings,

  3. I make your master recipe all the time and is says makes 4 1 lbs loafs and I have a scale and weight it and it does not make 4 1 lbs loafs.I read somewhere that it is not actually 1 lbs it’s like 12oz or something.Why is this?

  4. This looks really yummy. On an unrelated note: I am planning on making the Brioche Filled with Chocolate Ganache (p 195 of ABin5) for a brunch on Saturday. I’m wondering if the loaf can be shaped (with the chocolate ganache filling) the night before and rise in the fridge all night like many of your other recipes can, so i can just bake it in the morning. If I do that, do I need to let the loaf come to room temp before baking, or do I need to adjust the baking temp/time at all for the cold loaf? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Kelsey,

      Yes, you can do the refrigerated rise for that loaf. I would just take it out and let it sit on the counter while the oven preheats, then it can go in the oven.

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. Just tried your basic bread 1st time last night. Had found you on web and thought “I have to try this!” I always “hated” trying to knead since it was so messy and I haven’t had much success with kneaded breads, even biscuits. It worked perfectly!! Just by the simple directions. My friend from Germany (many years in US now) had especially missed the breads she used to get there. She “danced!” “O-o-o, how I’ve missed this!” she said. Thank you so much! Will try many more of your recipes now. Blessings…………Carole

  6. This looks delicious!

    I do have a tangentially related question:

    I would love to make a dough that I could use to make something like the braided savory spinach pastries and freeze them to use for lunches for the next few weeks.

    I usually make the master recipe to use for pizzas, but I find that it gets a bit chewy when baked, frozen and thawed.

    Do the enriched doughs (challah?) do better already baked in the freezer?

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi Connie,

      Yes, I think you will like the challah dough for this. The enriched doughs tend to stay more tender because of the eggs and fat in the dough.

      Thanks, Zoë

  7. Made this today and also added a handful of baby spinach to get more green looking buns. They came out great! I own both your books and I’m going to try the Red Beet buns next. Thanks so much for your wonderful recipes!

  8. Dear Jeff and Zoe,

    I was just looking at your Vermont Cheddar Bread recipe in AB5. Can you suggest a dried or fresh herb(s) that would be good to put in the dough?

    Or would drained (unfrozen) spinach be better. I haven’t made the recipe before, and want to dress it up a bit more.

    Thank you.


    1. Hi Judy,

      You could add a bit of rosemary to the dough or the spinach also sounds great! Let me know what you come up with.

      Cheers, Zoë

    2. Bakery out here used to make a Garlic-Cheddar bread that was wonderful. I’ve always thought that’d be good to try here.

  9. Hi,

    I love this and the other specialities in Healthy Bread in 5, but I’ve been wondering, could I maybe freeze buns and loafs after being shaped? You mention in the book that dough can be frozen, but to me it would seem more convenient to first shape, then freeze, so that there would be as little as possible left to do when thawing.

    What would you suggest? Freezing before or after resting? Maybe even baking first? I’d like to do at least some of the baking after thawing, so that the bread would as fresh as possible…

    – Maria

    1. Go ahead and freeze after shaping and rising. I prefer that to freezing after baking, as you say, it’s fresher.

  10. Is there a way to make this with the gluten free bread flours from your GF bread in 5 book? And while I’m here, thank you so so much for that book!! I’ve made many of the recipes and they are all wonderful. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have delicious real bread in my life again.

    1. Sure, but it’s gonna be dense– Use a dough from the book, don’t just try to swap the flour here– that’s a likely fail.

  11. I’m new to the bread in 5 minutes a day family! Made my first batch of rosemary flax bread and although it tasted great, it didn’t rise much in the refrigerator, if at all. Used a metal bowl with plastic wrap as I didn’t have a sealable bucket. Any other ideas as to what went wrong? I halved the recipe and should have had enough dough for 4 loaves, but made 3 very small instead. But sooo good! Thank you

    1. Well, when you say “so good,” I assume that there was good hole structure and the bread wasn’t overly dense, which means it must have risen. Can you clarify?

  12. I was in a rush making my first batch of Mixture 1 on page 60 of the 5th book and after mixing up the flour mixture I quickly weighed out the lukewarm water and got a batch going in the stand mixer and it came out nice and smooth and I put it in a 6 qt container with the lid on loosely and quickly made a spot for it in the fridge and popped it in there and left just in time. When I got home I re read the instructions and realized it was supposed to sit on the counter for 2 hours before putting it in the fridge…. Will it sill work? Maybe it will but it may just come out more dense without the initial rise??

    1. Just take it out of the fridge. Let it come to room temperature and the rise should start. It may take much longer than what’s written in the book having been chilled. Don’t try to shape it without doing this.

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