» Archive for March, 2013

Sweet spiced buns

Thursday, March 28th, 2013 by Tina

The hunt for the ideal hot cross bun continues. I still miss my favourites from Davelle’s bakery in Epping, but I’ve moved house so it’s too far even for me to make the trip just for buns!

I decided to have another crack at making them this Easter, and thought I’d try the Laucke sweet bun packet mix. It is a sweet bun packet mix so didn’t include the cross, which is fine as I find it is often a bit tough. I didn’t have very high expectations for the mix given the long list of ingredients on the label, but have tweaked it mostly in terms of method but added a few ingredients too:

1. I added 2 teaspoons of home ground mixed spice which I had on hand and added it to the flour.

2. I soaked 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit (currants, sultanas and a little mixed peel). It’s important to soak your fruit or it’ll make the buns dry as they soak up any liquid in the dough. Cover with boiling water and soak for a few hours or soak in cold water overnight. Drain.

N.B. As an alternative you could use cranberries or use choc chips.

Method

1. Add yeast to warm water to make sure it’s still active (it should start to froth up in 5-10 minutes). Add flour mix and spice to an electric mixer bowl with the paddle attachment, add the yeast liquid and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Swap to the dough hook and knead on medium speed for 8 minutes or until a small piece of dough stretched out forms a thin layer and doesn’t just break apart. This let’s you know the gluten has started to develop and this gives the bread its structure.

2. Transfer dough to an oiled bowl, turn over in the oil and cover with oiled clingwrap. Place in fridge for 6 hours (or as long as you have, overnight would be fine). This retards the growth and develops flavour. The dough almost doubled in volume.

3. Dust a chopping board with flour, remove dough from bowl and ┬ápress out into an oblong like an A4 sheet of paper in portait. Lay drained soaked fruit on top and press in gently (it won’t go in much that’s ok). Roll up towards you starting at the furthest edge making small firm pressing turns to help enclose the fruit within the dough. Once rolled up, turn the log seam-side up and press out gently as before into portrait. Repeat the rolling again until the dough starts to stretch over the fruit and some of the fruit starts to pop out. Return dough to oiled bowl, cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

4. Cut dough into 8 pieces (this made quite large buns, you could easily make 10-12 buns) and shape into balls. Use flour as this is a bit messy. Try to enclose the fruit within the dough. Place buns on a baking paper lined tray with a little space between them as they will expand. Place tray inside a large clean plastic bag (like a small clean garbage bag), trap some air in there so the plastic doesn’t touch the buns and tuck ends under or tie up. Place on the stove top or another warm place. Place a pizza stone on the bottom level of the oven and preheat to 250C fan forced.

5. For the next 45 mins to 1 hour let buns double in volume inside the bag and oven should get really hot.

6. Remove tray of buns from bag and place in oven on the pizza stone, close door quickly. Reduce oven temperature to 200C fan forced. Quickly open the oven door and throw one cup of ice or 1/2 cup water onto the bottom of the oven underneath the tray of buns and quickly close the door. This creates steam in the oven which produces a nice crust and browning. Bake for 15-20 minutes until deeply golden.

7. While buns are baking make a glaze with 2 tablespoons white sugar, 1/3 cup water and a pinch of cinnamon. Bring to the boil in a saucepan, stir until sugar is dissolved then simmer for 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Brush warm glaze onto freshly baked buns. Allow buns to cool before cutting. They will be a little doughy straight out of the oven but are fine after cooling.

 

 

Plum jam

Wednesday, March 27th, 2013 by Tina

Blood plums from Marrickville markets

Coat plums in sugar and leave covered overnight along with a muslin bag with some of the plum kernels in it.

I used Stephanie Alexander’s ratio of fruit to sugar. She uses 2kg plums, 1.25kg white sugar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Cut up plums, and set seeds to the side. Whack 10 of the seeds to crack them and place the kernels inside in a muslin bag. Place fruit and sugar in a large saucepan with a lid and leave overnight. The next day bring to the boil and skim froth. Add lemon juice and simmer for 30 minutes or until a teaspoon of jam sets on a cold saucer you’ve had sitting in the freezer. Remove jam from heat. Put muslin bag in a strainer over saucepan of jam and press with a large spoon to extract liquid. Ladle into hot, sterilised jars and seal.

N.B. The key to success is to use fresh fruit from the market, mostly ripe for good flavour and some still quite firm and tart. The under-ripe fruit has higher pectin levels which is what gives the jam its setting-ability. The kernels also add a lovely almond background flavour.