These lovely light buns with a beautiful shiny surface are perfect for birthday parties, with afternoon tea or a cup of coffee, or enjoyed on a cold day in the fall with a mug of hot chocolate.
300 g (1 1/4 cups) cold water
35 g (4 tablespoons) fresh organic baker’s yeast (see note below for substituting Instant Yeast)
625 g (5 cups) all-purpose flour
65 g (1/3 cup) sugar
10 g (1 1/2 teaspoons) salt
50 g (1/2 stick) salted butter
Below we provide you with a basic enriched dough recipe. Using this, you can make an almost infinite number of recipes including Soft Buns. In other words, this dough can be used for anything that calls for a lovely, buttery dough that’s not too full of fat. Makes one portion.
How to knead enriched dough in a stand mixer
1. Add water (or milk) and yeast to the bowl of a stand mixer and stir until the yeast dissolves. Crack the egg into the bowl and mix them in.
2. Add the flour and sugar and knead well at low speed until the dough is smooth, shiny, and effortlessly comes away from the inside of the bowl, a sure sign that the dough has developed gluten strands. This should take 6 to 8 minutes, depending on your machine’s power.
3. Chop the butter into small cubes and add it all at once along with the salt.
4. Knead the dough well, until all the butter is absorbed and the dough is once again shiny and smooth. When it slides off the inside of the bowl stop the machine immediately. Once the butter settles around the gluten strands, making them more expandable, they also become more vulnerable and they will break if you continue kneading the dough.
How to knead enriched dough by hand
1. If you’re not afraid to work up a sweat, knead your enriched dough by hand. Start off by combining the ingredients together in a bowl, including the butter.
2. Knead the dough thoroughly. The butter is absorbed somewhat more slowly when you knead by hand. Once you’ve given the dough a good knead in the bowl, tip it out onto your work surface and knead it well for another 6 to 8 minutes.
3. Return the dough to the bowl and let rest for 5 minutes, after which knead it for another 2 minutes.
Whether the dough was prepared by hand or with stand mixer, now you cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes to an hour, or leave it in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight. It’s ready to shape into whatever type of pastry you wish to bake.
To make Soft Buns
Divide the dough into 10 lumps and shape them into buns. Place the buns on two cookie sheets lined with nonstick parchment paper. Leave plenty of space between each bun to allow them room to spread as they rise.
Let the buns rise for 2 to 3 hours. As the dough rises, it also relaxes, which allows the yeast to work. While rising, you should keep an eye on the size of the pastries because they should increase by almost 100 percent. Rising times will vary depending on the temperature of the dough and the room. It’s important to keep the dough covered while rising to prevent its surface from drying out and then cracking. If you can’t avoid a dry surface all together, you can always brush your pastry with some beaten egg.
Brush the buns with some beaten egg to give them a lovely sheen.
Bake the buns at 400°F for approximately 10 to 12 minutes. The oven must be really hot when baking pastries. If your oven has a convection function, turn it on to help the oven heat more quickly. If you only use one cookie sheet at a time, we recommend that you use regular top and bottom heat while baking. If you have more than one cookie sheet in the oven at the same time, use the convection function to keep the heat circulating more evenly.
Be aware that the temperatures and baking times are only approximate, so always keep an eye on whatever it is you’re baking, especially taking note of the color. If the pastry is turning really dark or seems dry, reduce the heat a little. If necessary, ignore the recommended baking time and remove the pastries from the oven as soon as they seem, feel, and smell ready.
Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool.
Adding some sort of filling to these buns will only make them even better. Try adding 125 g (4 1/2 oz) chopped dark chocolate or 125 g (3/4 cup) golden raisins. However, don’t add the filling until you’ve finished kneading the dough.
A Note on Yeast
The recipes in this book call for fresh organic baker's yeast. We recommend that you use digital scales set to grams to get the most accurate measurements for your ingredients, and this is especially true for yeast. The conversions used here are as follows:
3g = 1 teaspoon
5g = 1 1/2 teaspoons
15 g = 1 1/2 tablespoons
35 g = 4 tablespoons
50 g = 5 1/2 tablespoons
If you have difficulty getting hold of fresh organic baker's yeast you can use instant yeast, and organic kinds are available online. If using instant yeast you will need a small quantity - the easiest way is to divide the fresh yeast by three. Alternatively use the following conversions:
Fresh baker's yeast : Instant yeast
3g : 1 g
5g : 1.5 g
15 g : 5 g
35 g : 12 g
50 g : 17 g
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