Eeek… remember me? Roughly a year and a half between posts and for that I am truly sorry! Hopefully some of you lovely people are still out there, graced with the ability to forgive (and not forget!) this lapsed food blogger.
Last year wasn’t quite the norm for our family. In fact, it kind of passed by in something of a blur. Without going into too much detail… I found myself very much akin to a single Mum, while my husband worked overseas for 2017. Time moved along both slowly and quickly (depending on which member of the family you spoke to at any given time) and somehow with all that the year entailed, my blogging mojo fell rapidly by the wayside, only to be scooped back up and injected with some much-needed spark over these past couple of months.
Those who follow me on Instagram will already know that recent inspiration has come from immersing myself in several works by Elizabeth David, in particular her book of English Bread and Yeast Cookery. The following is slightly adapted from her Spice Bun recipe and can be further adapted to create Hot Cross Buns over the weeks leading up to Easter. I’m not a religious person, but over the Easter long weekend, you can be sure I’ll be baking up another batch of these for the family to devour. Two dozen buns may sound like a lot, but I’ve yet to see them last longer than 24 hours from being plucked from the oven!
Chocolate-Chip Spice Buns | Gather and Graze
For the Spice Buns:
- 500g (3⅓ Cups) Strong Plain Flour
- 5g (1 tsp) Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
- 4g (2 tsp) Mixed Spice
- 60g (⅓ Cup) Light Brown Sugar
- 30g (approx 3 Tbsp) Fresh Yeast*
- 250ml (1 Cup) Whole/Full-Cream Milk
- 60g (¼ Cup) Unsalted Butter (softened)
- 2 Large Free-Range Eggs (lightly beaten)
- 125g (⅔ cup) Dark Chocolate Chips (or Currants or Sultanas)
For the Glaze:
- 30mls (2 Tbspns) Whole/Full-Cream Milk
- 30g (2 Tbspns) Caster Sugar
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sea salt, mixed spice and brown sugar, ensuring there are no lumps. Make a well in the middle and set aside for the moment.
Gently warm the cup of milk to 37-38°C (98-100°F) either in a small saucepan or carefully in the microwave (only needs about 40-50 seconds). Add a little of this milk to the fresh yeast in a small bowl and mix to combine. See photos below…
Add the yeast mixture, along with the rest of the warmed milk, the 2 eggs and the softened butter to the flour mixture and using a wooden spoon or your hands, mix together to form a soft dough. If the dough is too sticky or too dry, add a little more flour or milk as required. Now add the chocolate chips (or dried fruit if you prefer) and mix until well distributed throughout the dough. Allow the dough to rest in the mixing bowl (covered with a sheet of Cling Film) for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Knock down the dough using your fist and then gather it up to place on a lightly-floured board. Separate and shape into approximately 24 little dough balls and place on a baking tray that has been lined with baking paper. Cover once again with the sheet of Cling Film and allow to rest for about 30-45 minutes until again doubled in size.
Pre-heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) as the buns get close to finishing their resting time.
Bake the buns in the pre-heated oven for about 12-15 minutes, until golden brown on top.
In the few minutes before taking the buns out of the oven, prepare the glaze by combining the milk and caster sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and stir for a minute or so, until slightly syrupy and the sugar dissolved.
As soon as the buns come out of the oven, use a pastry brush to give each one a light coating of the glaze.
Allow to cool completely, before serving alongside a morning/afternoon cuppa.
These buns will keep very well for a day or so, if stored in an airtight container. They are also delicious lightly toasted under the grill and topped with a little butter.
- Fresh yeast can be found in some delis, bakeries and small supermarkets throughout Australia. Substitute with 10g (3 teaspoons) of Dry Yeast if you cannot find any.
- Slightly adapted from an Elizabeth David recipe for Spice Buns in her wonderful book ‘English Bread and Yeast Cookery’.