The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

What Bread to use for my Food Cart?

jcammack's picture
jcammack

What Bread to use for my Food Cart?

i'm opening a food cart!

being in the midwest i wanted to do something that reminded me of home and my grandmother so i'm going to do organic runzas and possibly a pot roast stuffed bun as well. if you're not familiar with runza's it's an old recipe consisting of a stewed ground beef, onion, and cabbage mix baked into a bun.

originally i wanted to par bake these and then freeze (weekly or biweekly) and then finishing baking on site, but this seems like it might be a bit tricky and very time intensive...

so i thought...why not just bake some rolls and hollow them out and fill them to order. that's when i got the idea of doing the same with a juicy pot roast cooked with carrots, onions, and potatoes. just need two pots on the warmer with these two different fillings and then when someone orders i grab a bun and fill it and serve it...

so finally to my question... what sort of bread should i use for this?

i'm not a baker and obviously need to do some experimentation but i do know that i want the bread to be as close as soft and chewy as possible without it falling apart from the juices in the filling. i plan on not having the filling being overly juicy but it won't be dry either. just something to hold on to and bite into for a bit of great homecooking all rolled up into something convient to carry.

i want to make this as healthy as possible but also have a very savory homecooked taste so perhaps white bread is going to have to be the way to go. my grandmother made rolls with pot roast using lard on the farm and they were to die for. all animal sources must be from good sources but once given that i'm not opposed to using lard. :)

thanks for your help!

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Whenever people talk runzas, I suspect that they're from Omaha or somewhere nearby. Something that wouldn't be out of place in a food cart would be pita bread. Its been around long enough that its no longer exotic and it's almost ideal for your proposed business. They're relatively easy to make and you can make up a large quantity ahead of time. There's a recipe in the Favorite recipes section of the front page. If you want to try a pita with whole wheat flour, there are recipes available in archived threads. Just use the search feature and be prepared to see an almost overwhelming array of recipes. If you've got the ambition, you can find a recipe that will suit your needs and the equipment you have available.

jcammack's picture
jcammack

perhaps i've just never had a good homemade pita pocket because the pita i've had would be too dry for runza's. runza's generally have a real soft and somewhat sweet yeast dough bread and perhaps this is possible to obtain with pita. thanks for the suggestion! i'll give a recipe a try!

llwhitley's picture
llwhitley

Traditionally, runzas are made with the cabbage-onion-ground beef filling already in the dough. They are not made by hollowing out buns that are already made and then stuffed with the filling. If you deviate from the traditional method of making them, you are going to risk having people claim they are not runzas and they did not get what they paid for. I make them plenty often and freeze them already baked. I know others who do it, too. They can be warmed from frozen, but you have to make sure they warm all the way through. Another method is to thaw them before warming them. When it comes to the type of bread to use, traditionally anything ranging from a sweet dough bread to a plain white bread is used; however, rye bread is used at times and, less frequently from what I have seen, whole wheat bread. If you are researching info on runzas, also check bierocks, bierochs, pierogs, and the many other names for the same thing. Some people like a little cheese in them, too.

jcammack's picture
jcammack

you are most correct that i couldn't claim to call them runza's.

since i first had the idea a couple years ago i was determined to make them the old fashioned way you describe. i'm mean...that's a runza. but the more i've thought about the idea and thought about how to apply it to a food cart...the more i've realized that not only will it be difficult to create a consistent product, but also just how time intensive they will be to make. runza's are already pretty time intensive, now add to that freezing them, rethawing, then getting them up to temperature while also baking them the rest of the way and gettting a consistency of dough that is not to soggy or crisp or anything other than that good old fashioned soft, doughy runza goodness.

 

so recently i had the revelation that i could sell a runza like product and make the whole thing a lot easier on myself. just fill up some bread to order and hand it out. my biggest issue with this is that when baked the bread on traditional runza's gets that good meaty taste from the juices sealing into the dough, but perhaps i can get something close.

 

also i can't call them runza's anyway because Runza the restaurant has a trademark on "runza". of course i think it's ridiculous considering it's a cultural food that happens to run in my family and i feel a bit annoyed that i can't call a spade a spade.

 

thanks for your advice! never thought about rye bread. seems a sweet white dough bread is the way to go. whole wheat just doesn't make sense here. :)

Frazestart's picture
Frazestart

FWIW, there's a food cart in DC that sells pork, veggie or duck sandwiches on Chinese steamed buns at a couple of farmers markets. Although the traditional buns are stuffed before cooking, in this guy's version, the buns are pre-made and split and the hot filling is added to order .  When a customer places an order, the vendor warms up the bun on a steamer and makes the sandwich to the customer's specifications (type of filling, mild, spicy, extra sauce, greens,etc. ) The concept seems to work very well for him- I bet it would work for you and the runzas.

Good luck!

jcammack's picture
jcammack

thanks for the suggestion! perhaps i'll give a batch a try this way. i'm wondering if chinese steamed buns will seem a bit too "foreign" to the whole traditional runza thing. wonder if i could use some really good homemade dinner rolls and then steam them...? as you can tell i'm no baker. pretty green to the whole thing. :)

Stuart Borken's picture
Stuart Borken

That is a food cart item just waiting to happen.  It is part of the Lettuce Entertain you corporation concept.  Why reinvent the wheel?  Talk to them about doing this concept in a food truck.

jcammack's picture
jcammack

googled them and they do indeed look popular and tasty. they've already got a food truck, plus i'm looking to start with food cart for runza's. if i'm ever in chicago i'll give'em a try. thanks for the heads up.

Frazestart's picture
Frazestart

Steamed buns are very different from baked ones and may not be suitable for runzas. What you could do is do what this vendor did, bake or buy buns that taste like the traditional runza ones and fill them to order. It might even be worth your while to contract with a small local bakery to bake them for you rather than try to make them yourself.

jcammack's picture
jcammack

i was thinking the same thing. of course my worry with outsourcing them is that they'd be a lot more expensive then making them myself. granted i'd have to pay for kitchen time to mix and bake em up. not to mention storage space. but i'm gonna have to pay for kitchen time anyway for the filling so... i' guess i'll just have to see what makes the most sense. i like the idea of knowing my product from scratch to finish and doing it all myself, though maybe baking is a subtle enough art that i should have someone else do these.

thanks for the suggestion! :)