Bread, butter & buns

Take me to any bakery, food market or cafe that sells baked goods & you could comfortably bet on me selecting the biggest, glistening bun on offer. My love of all things dough began at a very young age, I come from a household of bread lovers. Bread was always a staple, cheese on toast, sandwiches (soggy cucumber ones, obviously), good old bread & butter, used as a receptacle & the mopping up of pasta dishes & sunday dinners, there it was accompanying most meals in the Lewis home.

So it comes as no surprise that when I began in the baking world, bread was an area that appealed to me . Rather daunting at first, scouring through endless cookery books hunting the perfect recipe for a white bloomer, only to discover that it would take me some 3 hours to produce. Is anything in life worth 3 hours work, when I can have a sponge in & out of the oven in under an hour? Honest answer? Yes, yes it is. As far as baking is concerned, the satisfaction of baking your own, homemade bread is unrivaled. That proud feeling as you pull the perfect loaf out of the oven, a product which so much love & effort has gone into making. A true achievement. My first little loaf was a rather sad looking thing, underkneaded & underproved, but at the time it was the best thing I had ever tasted.

After humble beginnings, I rose to the challenge of producing perfect breads. Bloomers, baguettes, pretzels, soda breads, rye, sourdough. Then came the sweet doughs of which I am so fond, hot cross buns, teacakes, cinnamon buns, brioche. Once you’ve tasted homemade buns, compared to the poor excuses, masquerading as bread, that line supermarket shelves, I guarantee you’ll be hooked on dough. These days I can’t enter a bakery without wondering what goes into making their buns & often strive to recreate them (next on my long list of baking ventures is a rather fabulous pistachio bun from The Bertinet Bakery in Bath). So if you’re after something sweet & satisfying or, like me, are just excited at the opportunity to spend some quality time in the kitchen, these buns are well worth the effort. Feel free to adapt the filling if raisins aren’t your friend, chopped glacé cherries or dried apricots add an element of luxury to the filling.

DSCN4561


 

CHELSEA BUNS
(makes 12)

Ingredients:

  • 550g strong while flour
  • 7g fast acting yeast
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 1tsp cardamom
  • 120g butter, melted
  • 150ml whole milk, lukewarm

For the filling:

  • 55g butter, softened
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp lemon juice
  • 200g mixed fruit (raisins, sultanas, mixed peel)

To glaze:

  • 3 tbsp acpricot jam (warmed)

Method:

  • combine the flour, yeast, salt, cardamom & sugar together in a large bowl
  • warm the milk & butter in a saucepan or microwave, until combined & lukewarm
  • make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, pour in the milk mixture
  • stir until the mixture is well combined & a dough is formed, it is a sticky dough (you many not need all of the milk mixture, use a little water if your dough feels a bit dry)
  • empty the dough out onto a floured work surface & knead for 5-10 minutes (or for 5 minutes using a dough hook in a stand mixer) until it is smooth, elastic & it has a slight shine
  • Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm & leave to rise for about an hour, until it has doubled in size
  • make the filling by combining all of the ingredients in a bowl, adding the fruit last
  • once your dough has risen tip it out onto a floured work surface & knock back the dough (knead out the air)
  • roll or stretch your dough out into a rectangle, roughly 20x30cm in size
  • tack down the corners of the dough & one of its long-sided edges, to keep it in place & prevent the dough from springing back
  • evenly spread over the filling
  • taking the untacked, longest edge, begin to roll your dough together, making sure the it the roll is tight until complete
  • placing seam side down, cut the roll into 12 even slices using a dough cutter or sharp knife
  • place your buns onto a parchment lined baking sheet, roughly a 1/2 inch apart (I like to tear apart my buns)
  • cover with cling film, a tea towel, or (my preference) place inside a bag for life & leave to prove for 30 minutes
  • when ready, bake the buns in the oven at 190C for 20-25 minutes, until beautifully browned (if your oven if not the best, like my own, then you may need to check your buns after about 15 minutes to ensure they aren’t browning too much & place a layer of foil over them to finish baking)
  • warm the apricot jam in a small saucepan until fluid
  • once the buns are done baking, remove from the oven & brush all over with the warmed apricot jam & leave to cool on a cooling rack

If you want to add an extra something to your buns, I sometimes like to drizzle over some lemon icing or sprinkle over some toasted, flaked almonds to finish.

loaf


 

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