No bread is an island

...entire of itself. (With apologies to John Donne!)
I live and breathe breadmaking. I’m an evangelist who would like everyone to make his or her own bread. I want to demystify breadmaking and show it as the easy everyday craft that it is. To this end I endeavour to make my recipes as simple and as foolproof as I possibly can.

I call my blog 'No bread is an island' because every bread is connected to another bread. So a spicy fruit bun with a cross on top is a hot cross bun. This fruit dough will also make a fruit loaf - or Chelsea buns or a Swedish tea ring...
I'm also a vegan, so I have lots of vegan recipes on here - and I'm adding more all the time.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Belgian buns

These were made with dried cranberries, soaked for a little while. Rolled up, sliced and flattened - and put to prove.
400g strong white flour
2 dessertspoons sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice, 2 teaspoons cinnamon
200g dried fruit (currants, sultanas or raisins plus mixed peel)
1 dessertspoon fresh yeast or 1 teaspoon dried yeast
250ml lukewarm liquid
Good splash of olive oil          

1 dessertspoon oil
Sugar to sprinkle

Icing sugar and halved glace cherries

1. Place flour, sugar, spice and fruit in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix them evenly. Place the yeast in a well in the flour, then pour the water over the yeast to start it dissolving and add the olive oil.

2. Have a little water to hand to add if necessary, remember, it is better for your dough to be wetter (slack) rather than drier (tight). Stir the yeast, then the rest of the ingredients, with a table knife or similar, cutting through the dough as it forms. When it gets too stiff for the knife, use your hand to squeeze the mixture together. As it forms into a solid mass, keep turning it over and pressing it down to pick up the flour at the bottom of the bowl – but make sure it stays soft. Don’t be afraid to add more water to keep it soft! When all the flour has been mixed in, wipe the bowl around with the dough, turn it out onto the worktop and begin to knead.

3. Knead by stretching the dough out, folding it over, stretching it out and so on and so forth. Do this until it is smooth – or until you get fed up!

4. Leave to prove for about an hour on your worktop, covered with a dry tea towel. Or place in an oiled plastic bag until you are ready for step 5. Or go straight to step 5.

5. When you're ready to proceed, roll the dough out into a rectangle, 40cm by 25cm. Brush with oil and sprinkle with the sugar. Roll up the dough along the short side, towards you, as you would a Swiss roll, and leave to rest on the seam. Cut into 16 pieces and flatten each bun down to about 1cm thick out then place on a prepared baking sheet, fairly close together. The buns should touch all round when risen which helps to keep the buns in shape. Leave to rise appreciably.

6. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes at 220C 425F or gas mark 7, checking the colour underneath the buns – they should be browned evenly across the bottom. You may need to remove the buns on the outside, which have browned underneath, and replace the others in the oven, upside down.

7. Cover with icing sugar and top with half a glace cherry.
Any dried fruit will do – dried cranberries work very well, as do dried apricots (chopped fairly small)
If you plan ahead, it’s a good idea to soak the fruit beforehand. Use the soaking liquid with the yeast.
The outside buns are done, but the middle four had to go back in the oven for a couple more minutes. I want to see a little more colour on them.
As you can see, decoration is not my strong point!

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