Tag Archives: buns

Iced buns for a Wednesday

There are many other things that I should be doing. I am in the middle of a piece about Death, I interview somebody in an hour, I have a study that looks like a store cupboard nobody cares about, and everybody chucks their stuff into. I should be researching, planning and tidying to enable a more structured work routine.

But all I want to do is write about buns. Iced buns. I don’t even, particularly, like iced buns. I never wake up and think “I really fancy an iced bun”. But they are a perfect, unassuming little cake. Very English (to my Italian mind). And humble. My partner, who is English going back to the beginning of time, said that “iced buns were what you bought your children when they really wanted a doughnut”. I have no idea if this is true

This is how you make them. It’s a recipe from a Jamie Oliver magazine from a few years back, the method of which I’ve adapted slightly. The recipe says it makes 12, but you could easily make 24 small ones (and even then, not that small). These were, actually, iced ‘fingers’ but I prefer the word bun. I made 12 and they were as oversized as the eyes on a Bratz doll. Next time I’d make them smaller.

14g dried yeast

150ml milk, tepid

500g strong white bread flour

50g caster sugar

2 teaspoons of salt

40g very soft butter, unsalted

2 eggs

140ml of water straight out of the tap

For the icing: 300g icing sugar, 2-3 tablespoons of water

Stir the yeast into the milk and set aside. You don’t need to wait for it to froth up or anything.

Mix together the flour, sugar and salt together. Now stir in the yeast/milk mixture and the rest of the ingredients, mixing it all together.

You’ll have a very wet dough that looks almost unmanageable. Leave it in a bowl for 10 minutes.

Oil a work surface or board (wooden boards don’t work so well for bread kneading, I use a Top Gourmet one which is made of recycled cardboard and it’s brilliant for all my bread making) and tip the dough out. You may need to scrape it up with a scraper to begin with but don’t be tempted to add flour and don’t panic. You can do this. It’s buns you’re making, just think of that.

Knead it very lightly for about 10 seconds, then cover and leave for ten minutes.

Do this twice more. By the end you should have a smooth dough that is slightly more manageable. Now leave it, covered in an oiled bowl, for about an hour and a half. It should have doubled/risen quite a bit.

At the end of this time, knead it lightly one more time and cut bits off it and roll into either circles (I used flour for this last bit) or sausage shapes. If you want to be really precise, weigh the whole dough, work out how many buns you want, then divide one by the other so you end up with buns the exact same size.

Place whatever size/shape bun you’ve made onto a parchment lined tray. The buns shouldn’t be touching yet – they reach out to each other as they rise.

Cover and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes. I left them at room temperature – 20c – for 90 minutes (not on purpose, I got held up) and when I came back they’d blown up to enormous proportions. All was fine, I had very big, very light, very fluffy buns. But it was touch and go until I got them in the oven. I’d say give them an hour at an average room temperature.

Into a preheated oven of 200C, place the buns for 10 minutes or so. You want them to be lightly golden. When done, take them out and cool completely. They’ll be all squashed up against each other and you’ll have to tear them apart to reveal their inner fluffy softness.

Now  mix up the sugar and water to make the icing and spread it on top. The icing won’t be pouring consistency – it’s much thicker than that. So you need to spread it on with a knife but as it dries it smooths out so don’t worry about it not looking lovely and slick when it first goes on.

Don’t store these in an airtight container. The buns need to breathe or the icing will slide off. So you may want to freeze half (un-iced in which case make half the quantity of icing) as these make rather a lot. But they are fun to give away. Everyone seems to like an iced bun.

These are great for school fetes for that reason – children and adults like them – and they are not overly expensive to make. I think, and my eldest agrees, that these taste even better the next day. They didn’t last into a third though.

 

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"There are buns for tea"

A bun. This one from the first batch, thus without its top hat of crushed sugar cubes and amaretti biscuits, which I now regard as obligatory.

As regular readers will know, I don’t really like cooking with yeast. I trust it to the breadmachine – see bagels – but making dough from scratch, I don’t really like using yeast.

Which is why I’m so comfortable, and confident, with sourdough.

But recently a recipe for Panettone teacakes on the Bakery Bits blog caught my eye, or rather, the Tweet advertising them did. So I tried them. The first time, I didn’t read the recipe properly and only realised you needed white chocolate when it was too late. I had dark chocolate (I always have dark chocolate) which I thought I could substitute because I thought the recipe might use the chocolate as ‘chips’. But it doesn’t – it’s used as as lard substitute. See Dan Lepard’s original recipe here from 2007, which explains it all rather beautifully (one of the many reasons that I love Dan’s recipes is that he tells you a bit about the whole chemistry of it too, so I always learn something, beyond how to make a new bun or bread).

Anyway I left the white chocolate out in my first batch, and also didn’t have enough candied peel. And used mostly sultanas rather than raisins. And didn’t have the recommended topping. But they were still great if a little less sweet than I think they should be. The second time I made them I had all the relevant ingredients and they were strangely, slightly less soft but completely delicious. These are the new house teacakes.

But the dough makes quite a lot (about 14) and that’s too much for us. If you want, this dough freezes beautifully. A few days after first making these, when teacakes were called for (freshly baked, and buttered, they make an excellent after swimming treat I’ve discovered), I got the dough out, defrosted it, shaped it, left them to rise and they were perfetti. In fact I’ve done this a few times now, frozen the dough and then taken them out the night before they were needed to defrost, got up in the morning, shaped them and given them an hour or so’s rising and then cooked them and they’ve been delicious.

These are life-affirmingly delicious about 20 minutes out of the oven.

The Aroma Panettone is an absolute must here.

These teacakes have promoted me to constantly say “there’s buns for tea” now. If there is a word in the English language more cheering than ‘buns’, I can’t think what it is. It’s so comforting, so Enid. Ironically the  Railway Children was on today and they said, at least twice “we can have buns for tea”.

Anyway here’s what  you need to do to have buns for tea:

14g instant yeast
125g warm water
600g strong white bread flour
50g milk – any type
50g honey
25g caster sugar
75g white chocolate, melted
150g sultanas (original calls for currants, I prefer sultanas)
150g mixed candied peel
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon of salt
3 large eggs, 3 egg yolks (yikes I know, a lot of eggs!) plus one extra egg for the egg wash although I find milk works almost as well and is less wasteful, especially if you freeze the mixture and make in batches.
2 teaspoons of Aroma Panettone

Amaretti biscuits
La Perruche sugar lumps

Measure out the flour. From the 600g, take 3 tablespoons and put that in a bowl with the yeast and water. Mix it up til it’s all dissolved. Leave it for about 15/20mins, until there is obvious bubbling. Because I whisk my mixture up, be sure the bubbles you see are the yeast working (these look more like geyser bubbles) rather than just ‘whisk’ bubbles. On a hot day you’ll see this fairly quickly. My kitchen is quite cool and it can take 20 mins plus.

Heat the milk up, then add the chocolate, sugar and honey. There isn’t much milk so you do think “how will the chocolate melt” but it does. If you get stuck you can always just very gently heat it up again, but I’ve never found the need. To this add the sultanas, peel, zest, salt and Aroma Panettone.

Separately, whisk the eggs together – the 3 whole eggs and the 3 yolks (freeze the whites, I’ve got a killer Madeleine recipe coming soon). You’re just combining them, you don’t have to whip them into a frenzy. To these add the yeast mixture and then the milk/peel mixture. Then the flour. Use a dough hook and a food mixer if you like, or do it by hand.

Just until it’s all incorporated.

Leave the dough to rest for ten minutes. Then you give it a light knead, on an oiled surface, with a 30 minute rest each time. Do this three times (so to recap, after the first mixing, leave the dough for 10 mins, then light knead, rest for thirty mins, light knead, rest for 30 mins, light knead, rest for 30 mins.

Egg-wash on, about to go into the oven

Now divide the dough up into a bun size. Patrick said 100g a piece, I find my buns are slightly smaller. Roll into a ball with your hand and place on a buttered baking tray (you’ll be cooking on this same tray so make sure it fits into your oven). Flatten to about 2cm thickness, or leave thicker if you prefer (they do rise up). Ideally don’t have them touching but if they do it really doesn’t matter – you just tear them apart when they’re cooked.

Now leave them to double in size. This takes about 30 mins in my warming drawer.

Beat the last egg and brush over the top of the teacake just as you’re ready to bake them and sprinkle over the crushed amaretti biscuits and sugar lumps. You can live without them of course but they really do add something.

Patrick recommended cooking his buns for 15 mins at 220, mine can be done in half that time (our oven is practically industrial in its heat), so set a timer and check for yourself.

These are lovely on their own or, you know, split and buttered…

Fresh out of the oven