Fruit Buns

I adore waking up on the weekend to freshly baked bread.  Unless someone else is taking the baking task in hand (so I can selfishly sleep in while they are beavering away in the kitchen), it does require a little pre-planning. 

You really need time when baking bread. You cannot rush the proofing process.  I find if I do, I am guaranteed tangy, yeasty bread that is absent of any smooth, robust flavour.  The extra time is certainly worth the result.

This is my own basic sweet bread dough that I have adapted over time.  I use it for fruit buns, cinnamon swirls, spiced bread, everything.  It is simple and can be prepared a day ahead ready to bake on a lazy weekend morning.

You can adjust the sugar to taste but I find this quantity does not produce an overly sweet dough but one with a satisfying hint of sweetness.  The butter and egg both enrich the dough, and sometimes I supplement with extra butter if I want to inject more moisture to the final bread.  (Which I will do when I enter these into the upcoming Royal Show.  Yes, yet another category I am entering.)

How quickly freshly baked bread stales is a bit of a challenge.  So once I bake a batch of buns, I quickly freeze a portion straight away once they have cooled.  That way, they stay fresh, and I always have something in the freezer to enjoy.

As an aside, it is my birthday this Sunday.  I love when my birthday falls on the weekend.  I have hinted strongly to A that I would be most agreeable to breakfast in bed.  A fresh bread or pastry with a side of seasonal fruits would be extraordinaire!  (Wonder if he will see this?…)

{ Fruit Buns }

* Ingredients *
250 ml warm milk
5g dried yeast
500g plain flour
75g white sugar
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
50g melted butter, cooled
100g dried fruit

* Directions *
Warm the milk to 100F or 40C.  Mix in the yeast and sugar and set aside for 5 minutes.  Measure out the flour into the centre, add the yeast mixture.  Add in the remaining ingredients and knead by hand or with a mixer (dough hook) until the dough is smooth and glossy.  Oil a bowl and once the dough has come together place in the bowl and cover.  Set aside for about 45 minutes to 1 hour in a warm spot.  Knock the dough back and gently knead again for 5 minutes.  Let rise for another 30 minutes.  After the second proofing, divide dough into 16 pieces and knead into balls. Place balls 8cm apart onto oiled oven trays.  At this stage, you can either put the buns straight into the refriderator overnight or stand in warm place about 10 minutes or until buns have risen.  Brush with egg or milk and bake at 200C or 400F for 15-20.

Makes 16 buns

{ A few ideas … }
:: Flavour this dough with anything you like.  Cinnamon, nutmeg, all spice, lemon zest, orange zest … or even cardamon.  It is up to you.
:: For buns, loaves and rolls, towards the end of kneading, add a handful of any dried fruit, nuts, and chocolate or butterscotch chips etc. if you fancy.
:: If you wish to make scrolls, roll out each piece and spread with a flavoured butter (e.g. cinnamon), and then sprinkle with filling of choice.