Buttery rich yet feathery light, these buns are made from brioche dough that’s remarkably easy with a stand mixer. (It does, however, require advance planning to allow for several risings.) When deep-fried, they puff up like giant hushpuppies and make for an astounding texture and flavor contrast to barbecue. If deep-frying unnerves you, they’re also delicious baked—like an extra-light dinner roll. Bake them several inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 350-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes.
¾ cup water
2 (.25-ounce) packets dry yeast
3 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 fresh jalapeño, chopped, with seeds
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Oil for deep-fat frying
Kosher salt to sprinkle over the bread after fried
1. Heat water to 105 to 115 degrees and place in bowl of standing mixer with yeast; stir until yeast dissolves and let stand 5 to 10 minutes until foamy. Fit stand mixer with dough hook. Add flour, sugar, and salt to bowl; mix on low speed just until flour is moistened, scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Beat in eggs on low speed. Increase speed to medium and beat until dough comes together, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Beat in cheese and jalapeño. Add butter, ½ stick at a time, beating until each piece is nearly incorporated. Raise speed to medium-high and beat until dough pulls away from sides of bowl, about 7 minutes.
2. Cover bowl with a warm, damp towel and let sit in a warm spot for 2 to 3 hours, then cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. An hour and a half before frying, pull dough out of refrigerator, punch down, and roll on a lightly floured surface to 1-inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter or wide glass and place onto a baking sheet. Cover again with a warm, damp towel and let rise until doubled in size.
3. Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of oil in a Dutch oven or deep-fat fryer to 340 degrees. Add buns, taking care not to crowd the pan, and let cook about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning once, until each side turns a deep golden brown and batter is cooked through. Drain on paper towels and season the tops to taste with kosher salt while still damp from the oil. Slice horizontally and fill with barbecue.
Makes 12 to 16 buns.