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This is fiddly. Seriously fiddly. All that rolling, sealing, making sure the jam won’t leak out and make a hell of a mess – effort. But worth it – trust me.
Yeast dough is a little under-appreciated in this country and held in awe at the same time. We have iced buns, Chelsea buns and of course hot cross buns but try and think of sweet yeast dough that is called a cake! While elsewhere in Europe they happily make big cakes and little cakes or buns and what-nots using yeast-risen dough. Take rum babas – a lovely dessert and it’s yeast dough. Kugelhopf is not just breakfast bread. Pannetone, anybody? Surely you wouldn’t call them bread?
So if you make an effort to make these, remember – the basic dough can be taken to any lengths you like, really. Try spreading it out, focaccia-style, in a baking tray and topping with fruit and crumble. Try putting lots of dried fruit on top, folding in half or rolling and baking into a strudel. Try drenching it with melted butter, drowning in orange or lemon zest and studding with lots of raisins. Try putting a sweet ricotta filling onto it, cutting into Danish-pastry-style shapes, and let’s not forget – those utterly indulgent, called Danish except in Denmark pastries – are fashioned from yeast dough.
apricot bunsServings: 8 bunsTime: about 3 hours
- 350g flour
- 60g sugar
- 2 tsp fast action or 13g fresh yeast
- a pinch of salt
- 80ml/1/3 cup milk
- 50g butter
- 60ml/1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 large eggs
- melted butter for brushing
- For the filling:
- ½ jar apricot jam, warmed
- 100g organic dried apricots
- a handful of sultanas
Soak the apricots in a little hot water. Mix the flour with sugar, salt, cinnamon and yeast. Heat up the milk with the butter until it melts, then add the water, put aside to cool slightly, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix with a dough hook attachment adding the eggs, one at a time. Knead until it stops sticking and bounces off the sides of the bowl, or stops sticking to your hands. This takes quite a long time and a couple of tablespoons of extra flour might be needed if the dough keeps sticking.
Leave in the bowl in a warm place for an hour, until doubled in volume. In the meantime warm up the jam slightly – it will spread easier – and chop finely the drained apricots. Melt a little extra butter for brushing.
Turn the risen dough out onto a floured surface and divide it in four parts. Working with one part after another, roll or stretch it out to a wide rectangle 30 x 15cm. Spread the jam all over the surface quite generously, sprinkle with apricots and sultanas and roll up like a long sausage. Seal the seam well, then cut in half. Brush one side of each shorter roll with butter and roll again into a tight spiral, with the seam inside. Seal the edge and brush the outside with butter. Place in a tray 40 x 20cm lined with parchment.
Continue with the rest of the dough so that you have eight buns spaced evenly in the tray. Brush the tops with beaten egg or the rest of the butter and leave covered in a warm place for half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. When the buns have risen and touch one another sprinkle with pearl sugar if you have any. Bake for 30 minutes until golden on top. They will stick to each other but tear off beautifully thanks to the butter on their sides.