- Food & Drink
Hot buttered buns. I make no jokes here
An abomination is occurring in my house every morning. An offence against nature and the natural order of things so terrible that I can’t stay silent any more. I have to stand up and raise my voice in protest. “No,” I cry. “This cannot – must not – be allowed to continue. THIS MUST END NOW.”
You see, my housemate is eating toasted hot cross buns for breakfast. And it’s not even Lent! Pancake Day hasn’t happened yet. And he is eating hot cross buns. It’s completely seasonally inappropriate.
I’ve thought about the best way to tackle this violation of traditional eating habits. The most obvious thing to do is hide the hot cross buns every time he buys them. But I’m worried he might not believe me when I explain that we’re the victims of a very targeted burglar and, instead, will start thinking I’m eating the hot cross buns (which I’m not, because it’s not Good Friday).
I’ve considered pointing out that the year-round availability of hot cross buns is part of capitalism’s exploitation of our cultural traditions, rendering them empty and meaningless so we’re left living lives that are nothing more than treadmills of consumption in which desire can always be reliably sated, just a along as you have the funds. But I suspect he will laugh, and then start eating a Creme Egg in defiance. Maybe hunt down some advent calendars to snack on in between meals. That’s what I do.
My best course of action is to be sneaky. I will start regularly baking a different type of bun, one that isn’t tied to a particular date and festival. Out of sheer politeness he will be forced to eat the buns I keep baking him and the out-of-time hot cross bun will be no more.
This takes me back to a baking class I went to last year with Richard Bertinet. It was organised by Lurpak Slow Churned Butter as a way of persuading people that their butter is particularly excellent by teaching them to bake things that are nice spread with butter. It’s the sort of cunning contrivance I admire (see my above plan to stop my housemate eating hot cross buns). On the lesson plan were Earl Grey and pistachio scones (which were wonderful), chocolate crumpets (I shamed myself by making some particularly bad crumpets) and spiced tea buns.
The buns were our opportunity to learn Richard Bertinet’s idiosyncratic method of kneading dough. Richard demonstrated the correct stance, approaching the dough with a wide-armed, loose-limbed scooping motion. He caught the dough up, slapped it down and folded it over, like a gorilla making hospital corners out of duvets. Within minutes he had a supple dough that looked invitingly strokeable. It seemed simple. So I stepped up to the bench.
Reader, there was dough everywhere. The glossy, elastic lump I’d been handed quickly de-evolved into a sticky, cauliflower-eared mess. After a few minutes in which I very nearly got the dough to separate back into its constituent parts, Richard took over again and pulled the buns back from disaster. I’ve been practicing the folding technique since then and I think I’ve almost got it, although I’ve had to spend some time stood on chairs scraping dough off the tops of cupboards.
Spiced tea buns
Makes 10 large or 20 small
480g strong bread flour
20g dark rye flour
20g fresh yeast or 2 tsp dried yeast
1 tbsp good quality honey
200g milk at room temperature
100g Lurpak Unsalted Butter
200g dried cranberries (I used barberries as that was what I had in the cupboard)
70g caster sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
Pinch of ground cinnamon
2 pods cardamom, crushed
Pinch of salt
Lurpak Slow Churned Butter for serving
1 Preheat your oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/gas mark 4.
2 Place 230g of the bread flour and the rye flour into a bowl. Crumble in the yeast. Add the honey and milk and mix to a thick batter. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
3 Add the remaining flour, 1 egg and the butter and work the dough by stretching it and folding it over onto itself for about 10 minutes until soft and supple. Do not add flour or oil the work surface as it will alter the recipe quantities.
4 Crush the walnuts and mix into the dough with the cranberries, sugar and spices. Rest for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in volume.
5 Divide the dough into 10 (or 20) equal pieces. Mould into balls and place on a baking tray. Prove for 1 hour until the buns have risen to nearly double in size. Beat the remaining egg in a cup with a pinch of salt. Brush over the top of the buns. Bake for 15–20 minutes until golden brown.
6 To serve, cut the tea buns in half. Toast and generously spread with Lurpak Slow Churned Butter.