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This recipe is one of those that bring back long ago memories. Homework, hanging out with friends, talking on the land line phone for hours at a time, video arcades were popluar and even Pong was exciting. High Schoo circa 1983
I attended Northgate High School (Go Broncos!!) near Mount Diablo in the Bay Area of San Francisco. In high school, I was painfully shy, and socially awkward. Luckily I had (and have) awesome parents family and friends! I was also bright enough to hang out with the smart kids so I was 'intelligent' by association.
What is a Cheese Zombie you ask? Nope not a cheese covered dude from Walking Dead. It's nirvana and heaven mixed together and stuffed with generous cheese in a soft spongy bread thats been soaked in butter before baking. I always thought this particular item was just a local Walnut Creek thing, but then a teacher I worked with in Elk Grove went to Ygnacio Valley and had them too!
The bread was so soft and airy that we could squish them into cubes roughly the size of a golf ball. I craved them with each of my pregnancies, but never seemed to be near a school that served them at lunchtime.
Perhaps it is just that they were the bright spot in my life, perhaps they are a reminder of my youth. Regardless, I have been on and off on a mission to recreate the beloved Zombie for the last 15 years or so.
My first attempt:
Frozen Bridgeford Ready Dough. I let it rise, then I rolled it into balls the size of my fist, flattened out as a pizza, put some cheddar cheese inside -- although I was sure it called for Velveeta, not really a staple in our home. I pulled the dough together around the cheese, turned them over and put them on parchment paper. Like a dumpling. I let them rise (but it was SO cold in the house they never did rise very much) I cooked at 375 for 20 minutes give or take. In the last 5 minutes I slathered them with melted butter.
They were very good but NOT Zombies I remembered. Too dense although I'd let the dough rise three times. Bridgeford dough doesn't have enough 'sponge'.
What's a mama to do? My dad taught at Foothill Middle School for many years and they still had Zombies while he was there so I figured it was worth going straight to the top of this 'food chain'.
I e-mailed the head of Food Services for the Mount Diablo Unified School District (duh should have done this 15 years ago LOL) Her name is Jana Harrison and I'll be in her 'Zombie Debt' forever. Please send her a thank you or well wishes if you remember these fondly or find them tasty! Here was her reply:
You can't believe the number of requests we get for the recipe. We use American cheese but have also used mozzarella when making pizza-type zombies. Good luck with the recipe. The test of a true zombie baker is to have no "leakers", where the cheese melts out of the dough You can post to your group, but you may want to test the recipe first. We recently revised the home size version as it had too much yeast. We haven’t had anyone use it since the revision.
Happy "leak-free" baking,
They gave me permission to print it out here so to all you Northgate and MDUSD grads, this is my gift to you all. Go forth and bake! And then post a picture and results with tips or whatever you wih to the Facebook Page
ORIGINAL ZOMBIE RECIPE
To make 2 ½ pounds of dough:
2 cups warm water
1½ - 2 Tablespoons yeast
6 cups bread flour
¼ cup sugar
1 – 1 ½ teaspoons salt (depending on taste)
¼ cup butter
Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add remaining ingredients and mix with dough hook about 10 minutes until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. Dough should be soft and pliable. Let dough rest a few minutes then divide into 1-pound portions. Roll the portions into logs. Cut each log into 5 equal pieces.
Place your favorite filling on top of each dough slice, then pull dough up from the sides to cover filling. Pinch closed very carefully. Place zombies pinched side down on parchment paper or a greased cookie sheet pan (parchment works best). If desired, brush with egg wash. Let rise until almost doubled in size. Bake @350 degrees until brown on top, about 15 to 20 minutes.
If traditional filling is desired use 1 ½ to 2 oz. of cheese per zombie, however, you can use a variety of different fillings. For example: pepperoni, pizza sauce & cheese, ham & cheese, sausage, green chilies, ground beef, sloppy joes, scrambled eggs, vegetables, etc.
CONTACT: mtelliano AT gmail DOT com or hop on the FB page listed above
As always, take care and have a lovely day!