Thursday, 28 January 2010

Fresh from the Oven :: Chocolate Buns

So I set myself a few New Years Resolutions at the beginning of this month, one was to bake more and the other to take part in more food blogging events. So one weekend I was looking through finding some new food blogs to read, and came across Fresh From The Oven.

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.

The first challenge of 2010 was by Chele, and she had chosen Chocolate Buns, from Richard Bertinet’s first book ‘Dough’.

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

10g Salt

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.

Crème Patissiere

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.


  1. Looks very nice! My dough turned out softer than yours, and the creme was not too thick, so I experienced problems producing the roll and cuts. However, the final product tasted really fine. Thanks for step-by-step photos.

  2. When I saw the twitpic of this yesterday I must confess I thought it was a boerworst sausage or whatever they're called. That looks yummy I thought but didn't get around to replying to the tweet. Today I learn it's a chocolate bun so I would probably have confused you had I tweeted back "mmm that would be great with mustard"! It looks equally yummy as a chocolate bun!

    I too set myself resolution to take part in some monthly baking challenges: I've started Daring Bakers (first challenge posted yesterday) and MacTweets for macarons so am letting the dust settle a bit before I take on anything else!

  3. Looks sinful! Love you step-by-step instructions.

  4. Wow they look fab. Imagine the supermarket giving away fresh yeast :o I can't get it anywhere!

  5. Yeah the dough does look soft, but I am still liking this.

    Its an impressive resolution.

  6. Thanks for taking part, they look yummy! I found the recipe sounded far more complicated than it really was but I ran out of time to make the creme filling.

  7. Those look fantastic. Good thing Sweetfoods just posted notes on how chocolate can be good for you. I hope your recipe counts! Totally Yum!

  8. James, they look great mate! Well done! Hope you do well.

  9. These look delicious! I've often wondered about joining FFTO but am a bit scared. Would you recommend it?

  10. Glad you enjoyed making these buns. I can't get fresh yeast around here, even the supermarkets won't give it away free so I nearly always use fast action yeast.

  11. Lovely job! You are good taking so many pics of the process. I always intend to but then forget. I hope you take part again this month.

  12. thefoodphilosophy14 April 2010 at 12:09

    Lovely idea - I too need to perfect my baking