My brain always goes into an over-drive when somebody invites me to a special dinner. What should I take along? Shall I ask them so that it fits in with their menu? This was to be a Id celebration. So Yusra, who hails from Hyderabad would be sure to have a spread on. Morever, her mother-in-law had arrived recently, so it would be a dinner to rival all dinner!
So I settled on buns. An odd choice you think for bringing along to Id?
These buns have two types of fillings; one a classic cinnamon-sugar and the other a more desi dates-coconut-ginger. The fondant in both cases was flavoured with apricot kernel.
The buns are made of a rich dough; eggs, butter, milk and raised with yeast. I love working with yeast. It sort of comes alive with time and it appeals to the biologist in me enormously!
I use live yeast which we are lucky to get at the Nilgiris Department Supermarkets in Chennai. Nothing wrong with dry yeast, only I am always anxious they won't rise!
I mix the warm milk, a pinch of sugar and crumble a teaspoon of yeast and leave it to rise for fifteen minutes or so. In the meantime, the rest of the sugar, softened butter, eggs are creamed together sequentially. Once they come together to form a creamy concoction (about 10 minutes at low beating speeds), I add the milk-yeast and whizz briefly. The liquids are then mixed into the dry ingredients, in this case measured flour and salt. I do all this with hand, but of course a food processor can be used too. The liquid is incoporated slowly while beating the batter continuously, until the whole of it is absorbed into the flour. Then comes the kneading part. This takes about ten minutes, so I tend to move out of my hot kitchen, stand under a fan to do this. This is a great dough to work with since the butter and eggs makes it quite oily. The dough is left to its own devices for about two hours (longer doesn't harm either). At this stage, I popped it nto the refrigerator. Of course, the dough needs to be warmed for a couple of hours for the next stage in that case.
This time I made two fillings for the buns so after the dough had doubled in bulk, I divided it into two balls. I also incorporated the some of the chopped dates into one half of the dough at this stage. While the dough had been rising, I had made the fillings; the recipes are given below. I take each dough and roll it out on a flour-sprinkled surface into a rectangle. The size really doesn't matter so much as long as the thickness is around half inch. The rectangular shape is important though. Let the rolled out dough rest for about five minutes. Spread the fillings upto the edge. Roll up into a log shape. The fillings will appear as a spiral. With the seam side down, I cut the logs, each into one and half inch pieces. And rest the pieces for five minutes or so.
The butterpaper on the oven tray was oiled and then carefully each piece was transfered. Its important to make sure that the seam is firmly closed at this stage, otherwise the spiral tends to unwind during its second rising. From each log I had got eight buns. This was perfect for my small 16 litre oven. Just enough space to between each bun to let them expand in girth. Between each there must be about half inch gap.
The waiting part now is always tedious. I always want the buns to hurry up! Another two hours or so and they are ready to be popped into the oven. 180 degrees for 25 minutes is what these buns got. Half-way through the process I turn the tray around so as to allow for equal exposure to heat.
Only the fondant now remained. The sugar and milk with the apricot kernel were melted to prepare the fondant while the buns were being browned. In about ten minutes after the buns came out I drizzled with the whisk I had been using to dissolve the sugar-milk, some drops of the fondant. I let the drops coagulate and cool completely before serving.
Adapted from "Hot Cross Buns", The New Complete Book of Breads
Makes 16 small buns
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup softened butter
2 eggs at room temperature
1 cup warm milk
3 -4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon live yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tablespoon chopped dates for half the dough
Cinnanon Sugar filling
3 and half Tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Just mix them together thoroughly.
3 Tablespoon finely shredded coconut
3 Tablespoon finely chopped dates
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger
Mix them up thoroughly. I use my fingers to make sure that everything is well mixed. You can use a grinder too.
1/3 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
Ground flour from 4 apricot kernels
Melt the sugar in the milk completely. Mix in the apricot kernel flour to make it into a thick cream.