Friday, January 25, 2013

Cheese Zombies

I was introduced to Cheese Zombies this week. I'd never heard of them. Didn't have a clue what they were. A younger co-worker happily explained that they were the best part of school lunches, halfway between a grilled cheese sandwich and heaven.

I suppose I visualized them as grilled cheese, but that's not what they are. What they are is a layer of American Cheese baked between two sheets of hot, fresh bread. And my co-worker is right, they are pretty darn good.

Today I went to take pictures of a local school baker making them. She had kindly set aside some dough and posed for me, and gave me a half a zombie to try. It was really good. Then she explained how, when there was extra dough, it went to making cinnamon rolls. And she made up a couple of plates of cinnamon rolls for me to take back to my co-workers, which was astoundingly nice... but then she pulled out a baking sheet of zombies to go with the rolls.

So I cruised back to work today, just before lunch time, with a platter of cheese zombies and cinnamon rolls. And yes, I ate the rest of my half-zombie. And a cinnamon roll. And I enjoyed it, even though my calorie count is utterly shot for the day.

I found the recipe for the zombies on the school district's website. Apparently the dish originated somewhere around here, and possibly in the Grandview School District, where I tried my first zombie. Anyway, here's the recipe. If you know how I could cut it down to a much smaller version that I could do at home without a blender with a dough hook or a proofing oven, maybe comment on it, please?

Cheese Zombies (according to the Grandview School District)

2.75 Tbsp Active Dry Yeast
3/4 Cup Water, warm (110 degrees F)
6.5 Cups All Purpose or Bread Flour
1/3 cup non-instant, nonfat dry milk OR 3/4 cup instant nonfat dry milk
7 Tbsp Granulated Sugar
7 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1.25 Cups Water (68 degrees F)
1.25 lbs American Cheese Block, Sliced
1/2 Tbsp Butter or Margarine, melted (optional)

For best results have all ingredients and utensils at room temperature.
1) Dissolve dry yeast in warm water. Let stand for 4-5 minutes.
2) Place flour, dry milk, sugar and salt in mixing bowl. Using a dough hook, blend on low speed approximately 2 minutes.
3) Add oil and blend on low speed approximately 2 minutes.
4) Add water, mix on low speed for 1 minute.
5) Add dissolved yeast and mix on low speed for 2 minutes.
6) Knead dough on medium speed for 8 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic.
7) Divide dough into two equal pieces and place in warm area (about 90 degrees F) for 45 to 60 minutes.
8) Use a lightly oiled half sheet pan (17 3/4" x 12 7/8" x 1") and evenly stretch one of the dough balls on a sheet pan. Put sliced cheese evenly on top of first layer of dough. Take second dough ball and stretch evenly on the top.
9) Place in a warm area (about 90 degrees F) until double in size, 30-50 minutes.
10) Bake until lightly browned: conventional over 400 degrees F for 18-20 minutes, convection oven 350 degrees F for 12-14 minutes.
11) Optional: Brush lightly with melted butter or margarine while warm.

Makes 12 large servings. Best served with tomato soup.
Calories per serving: 552, Carbs: 63, Fat: 24, Protein: 20


David Oakes said...

Googling "Cheese Zombies" gives a number of hits, mostly nostalgia fueled and starting with the phrase "When I Googled 'Cheese Zombies'..."

Many of them also point out how evolving nutrition requirements for school lunches have pretty much killed the Zombie.

This one requires a bread machine, but it caught my eye for the single serving roll style:

Resurrecting the cheese zombies

Tegan said...

That's not a cheese zombie. That's a cheese roll of some sort.

What I need to figure out is how to a) reduce the bread recipe to single or double serving and b) find the proper cheese (because it's not American cheese, it's school/government cheese).