This is a great bread baking community, whereby each month a different challenge is set for everyone to have a crack at. How about that, two of my resolutions in one hit – awesome! So I very quickly sent of an email to Claire and Jules (the founders of Fresh From The Oven) and that was it I was in, and raring to go with the first challenge.
This was definitely challenging, and gave me a few firsts. The first time I had ever used fresh yeast (I still love that fact that my local supermarket gave it away for free!! Do they all do that?), and the first time I had to make Crème Patissiere (which I was very nervous if not a touch scared of I must admit).
However, I have to say they went down a storm with the family and they loved them in the office. Roll on the next challenge…… I can’t wait.
Chocolate Buns – from Richard Bertinet’s ‘Dough’
Makes 24 buns
250ml Full Fat Milk
15g Fresh Yeast
500g Strong Bread Flour
60g Butter, unsalted at room temperature
40g Caster Sugar
4 Eggs, large
25g Cocoa Powder, good quality
200g Chocolate Chips, milk/plain or a mixture
:: Pour the milk into a pan and warm gently, until it is at body temperature. It shouldn't feel either warm or cold when you dip your finger into it.
:: To mix by hand, rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble.
:: Rub in the butter, then add the sugar and salt, two of the eggs, milk and cocoa powder.
:: With the help of a plastic scraper, lift the dough onto your work surface. Even though the dough will feel quite soft and moist (and look like thick, sticky porridge) do not add any flour to the work surface. At this point I was panicking a little by this – but don’t worry.
:: Begin to work the dough, slide your fingers underneath it like a pair of forks, with your thumbs on top, swing it upwards and then slap it back down, away from you, onto your work surface (it will almost be too sticky to lift at this point). Stretch the front of the dough towards you, and then lift it back over itself in an arc (to trap the air), still stretching it forwards and sideways and tucking it in around the edges. Keep repeating this sequence.
:: As you work the dough it will start to come together and feel alive and elastic in your hands. Keep on working until it comes cleanly away from the work surface, and begins to look silky and feels smooth, firm but wobbly and responsive.
:: Now you can flour your work surface lightly, place the dough on top and form into a ball by folding each edge in turn into the centre of the dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating the ball as you go. Turn the whole ball over and stretch and tuck the edges under. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 45 mins in a draught free place.
:: Make the Crème Patissiere (recipe below)
:: Once the 45 mins are up, use the rounded end of a scraper, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and, with a rolling pin, gently flatten it into a rough rectangle – mine was very rough.
:: Spread the chocolate crème patissiere evenly over the dough and sprinkle on the chocolate chips.
:: Starting with one of the longer edges, roll the dough up until it resembles a Swiss Roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 2cm slices and place them on their sides on a baking tray. Glaze with egg wash (made from the remaining two eggs beaten with a pinch of salt) and leave to prove for 1 ¼ - 1 ¾ hours until the buns have roughly doubled in size.
:: Preheat the oven to 250C / Gas Mark 9
:: Glaze again and put into the preheated oven, turning the heat down to 180C / Gas Mark 4. Bake for 10-15 mins. As the chocolate dough is quite dark it can be difficult to tell when the buns are properly baked, and you need to take care not to under bake them. The best way to tell that they are ready if to lift one gently with a spatula and check that it is firm underneath.
If you don’t want to bake the buns all in one go, you can freeze some. When they are cut, just before proving, put them on a small tray in the freezer and when they are hard put them into a freezer bag. To use them, take them out, leave to prove overnight and bake in the same way.
6 Egg Yolks
140g Castor Sugar
50g Plain Flour, sifted
500ml Full Fat Milk
1 Vanilla Pod
15g Cocoa Powder
:: In a bowl whisk together the egg yolks, 70g of caster sugar and the flour.
:: Put the remaining 70g of sugar into a saucepan with the milk, vanilla pod (split lengthwise and seeds scrapped in) and the remaining cocoa powder.
:: Place over a low heat. Leave until the first bubble appears, then remove from the heat. Whisk 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture, then add the remaining 2/3 of the milk and stir again.
:: Pour back into the pan and put back into the heat. Bring to the boil simmer for a couple of mins, stirring constantly to ensure the cream does not burn on the bottom. Pour into a dish to cool. Sprinkle a little icing sugar or flakes of butter on top to prevent a skin forming.