Tuesday 17 February 2009

Sticky Currant Buns

I love fruity buns. Hot cross buns, currant buns, raisin bran muffins, fruit scones, lardy cake - you name it, if it's got dried grapes of any description I'm in. I did find a bakery in Kerrisdale a few months ago that had a great line in english-style currant buns and it made me very happy for a couple of days.

So I thought I'd have a go at making some for myself. I looked at a couple of recipes for sweet doughs and hot cross buns, and then thought about what I really like (and what I had in the cupboard). I ended up with this. It made 24 good sized buns about 3 inches across - about the size of a large tangerine.

700g All purpose (bread) flour
300g Cake flour
100g Butter
2 eggs
650g Milk (I used 1%)
2 tsp brown sugar
150g white sugar
grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp yeast
150g currants

First of all I made a sponge. This is not a cake, but a paste of flour, liquid and yeast that is left to ferment for a while before being used as the basis for the real dough. It helps really develop a gluten network and gives a structure around which the softer starches of the cake flour can form.

For the sponge, I warmed the milk to around 30C and poured it into a bowl containing 500g of the bread flour, 2tbsp brown sugar and 1tsp of dried yeast. I beat this well with the cake-beater attachment of my mixer, covered it and left it to stand for an hour.

Meanwhile, I washed the currants in hot water briefly and then strained and rinsed them under the cold tap.

I then poured in the melted butter to the mixture and added the rest of the flour, the spices, the eggs, the lemon zest and the white sugar together with another tsp of yeast. With the dough hook attachment I mixed the whole lot together. When it had started to come together, but before it had formed a proper dough, I added the currants and left it kneading in the machine for around 3 minutes.

I then removed the dough from the mixer, covered it with a plastic bag and left it to prove for around 90 minutes.

Once it had doubled in size, I turned the dough out onto a floured workspace, kneaded it very lightly and cut it into four equal parts. Working each part in turn, I made a rough sausage and cut each into 6, forming each into a round ball with a taut surface by repeatedly pulling the sides down and in under the bottom. I placed them on a greased baking sheet.

I left them to rise again - not for quite long enough: they really do need to be left to double again. They baked in the oven at 475F for around 15 - 20 minutes. After baking, I glazed the tops by brushing with a sugar syrup made with 2tbsp white sugar and 2tbsp water boiled quickly on the stove.

I was very pleased with the result. The dough tasted great with the lemon zest giving it a hint of citrus without the overpowering nature of candied peel that you get in traditional hot cross buns. Nutmeg and lemon go together really well, and I think the ginger helped give it a warm richness. The currants were great, especially having been washed in hot water - giving them an extra chance to plump up and get nice and juicy.

Next time I make these, I might try adding a tsp of salt - I omitted it by accident but they weren't too bad considering. It would also be nice to see if there's a way to make them keep their soft, pull-apart texture into the second day. They didn't keep particularly well and seemed to dry out a bit by day two. They were still very toothsome and would have been great toasted! I'll have to do some experimentation into what helps breads keep their softness.

Unfortunately, it turns out the rest of my family don't like currants, raisins or sultanas. My wife gamely ate one and pronounced it very nice, but I could tell her heart wasn't in it. So in the end, I had to take them to work and offer them to my co-workers, who seemed to appreciate them. I can't complain though, my lovely wife puts up with all this baking, so it's a bit much of me to expect her to eat it all as well!

I think I might have to dig out a recipe for lardy cake next...

Posted via email from For the dough...

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