sourdough fruit buns

I've always been a firm believer in the old adage, if at first you don't succeed then try, try again. This is the third time I've made these delicious fruit buns. The recipe isn't the problem, I just couldn't get them to brown in my new oven.

While looking at sourdough recipes on the internet, I saw lots of people advocated baking their bread in a covered dutch oven. I have 2 covered dishes so I wondered if it were possible to bake the fruit buns the same way. I figured the only way to find out was to give it a go.

I made the ferment 2 days before using it and the dough 36 hours before baking to help develop the sourness in the dough. Once the buns were shaped I transferred them to a baking paper lined low cast iron casserole dish then covered it for the first rise.

I baked the buns on the lowest rack in my oven, covered for 15 minutes then uncovered for 15 minutes. The end result - perfectly baked fruit buns. They smelt and tasted divine fresh from the oven topped with butter and jam.

If you don't have a low covered casserole dish I'm sure using a baking paper lined cast iron skillet or a pizza tray covered with a metal bowl would work.

Here's the recipe for you, adapted from this Mike McEnearney recipe. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. The eggs I use are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional gas oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C.

Sourdough Fruit Buns - makes 12. You'll need to begin this recipe 2-3 days ahead

Yeast Ferment
65g bread and pizza flour
¼ tsp instant yeast
2½ tbs warm water

Bun Dough
500 g bread and pizza flour
370 mls lukewarm water
2 tsp fine salt
100 g each sultanas and currants
200 mls boiling water
1 Earl Grey tea bag
2½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp each ground allspice and cloves
Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Easy glaze
¼ tsp gelatine
2 tbs strained orange juice
1 tbs sugar

To serve
Butter and jam

For the yeast ferment combine the flour, yeast and warm water in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside overnight to ferment. If you prefer a sourer tasting bun, return the ferment to the fridge for another 24 hours.

When you’re ready to make the buns gradually combine flour with 370 mls lukewarm water in a bowl. Slowly add to the yeast ferment and combine. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to rest. Add the salt and gently knead in the bowl until the salt is incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rest. Working in the bowl, slightly stretch out one quarter of the dough and fold towards the middle, then take the opposite side and fold into the middle. Turn bowl 90 degrees and repeat with the remaining sides to complete a total of 4 folds. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a further 30 minutes. Repeat the folding and resting sequence 2 more times.

Meanwhile place the dried fruit, tea bag and 200 mls boiling water in a bowl. Set aside for 2 hours or until fruit is plump. Remove tea bag and drain fruit well discarding the liquid. Add the spices, zest and fruit to the dough and knead until evenly distributed. At this stage I put the dough back into the fridge, covered the bowl and left it overnight.

The next day remove the dough from the fridge and set it aside to rest in a warm place for 2-3 hours or until risen by one-third. Turn out dough onto a floured work surface. Knead for 1 minute, and then divide into 12 equal pieces (about 100g each). Use your hand to roll each piece on the work surface to form a round bun. Place buns close together on a baking dish lined with baking paper that has a close fitting lid. I used my Le Creuset covered casserole dish. Cover the dish with the lid and refrigerate overnight to ferment.

The next day, remove the buns from the fridge. Stand at room temperature for 1 hour or until slightly risen and soft to the touch.

Preheat oven to 220ºC (conventional). Place the covered dish into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the buns have risen slightly. Remove the cover from the dish, raise the oven temperature to 240ºC and bake for a further 10- 15 minutes or until dark golden.

Meanwhile while the buns are in the oven, make the glaze. Sprinkle the gelatine over the orange juice in a small saucepan until softened, then dissolve over a low heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.

Remove the buns from the oven and then slide the baking paper and buns onto a wire rack. Brush hot cross buns with glaze and stand the buns in a warm place, such as near the opened door of the turned-off oven. This will help to set the glaze. Serve warm with butter and jam.

Christmas is just around the corner. Last weekend I started baking for Christmas Week, starting Monday December 19. There will be 5 days of Christmas baking featuring both desserts and festive bread recipes. I spent most of Saturday making the family Christmas pudding and Sunday I made an absolute showstopper of a cake.

I hope you're looking forward to this annual event.

See you all again next week.

By for now,

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