Let me be clear – I am no expert, especially when it comes to buns. But I wanted to give them a try and browsing led me to a recipe for pannetone in The Vegetarian Epicure, by Anna Thomas. I thought maybe I could change a few things and come up with a tray of breakfast buns. This is what I did as my first attempt, all measures are approximate:
- Ingredients for the dough: 285g/10oz flour. I used a mixture of all purpose and pasta flour. 15g/half an ounce of fresh yeast, 175g/5oz crème fraîche, 60g/2oz soft butter, 1-2 eggs, beaten, 2Tbsp brown sugar, small amounts of warm water, milk, sugar or honey. Pinches of spices: cinnamon/allspice/mixed spice (optional).
- For the filling: 28g/1oz melted butter, a couple of handfuls of raisins, sultanas or dried cherries, one orange, one lemon, sugar.
- Method: Make a little fresh marmalade by finely shredding the citrus peel and placing it with the juice and flesh in a pan, adding just as much sugar as you want – I used about a tablespoonful- and a very little water. Bring to the boil, then turn right down and stir until it begins to thicken. Leave to cool.
- Stir together the fresh yeast with a little warm water, sugar and milk. Leave it to start to work. Melt the butter with the sugar. Put half the flour in a big bowl and combine with the butter mix, then the crème fraîche, one egg and the yeast mix. Any ground spices could go in now too. Beat everything together, then add most of the remaining flour, turn out onto a smooth surface and knead for several minutes. You should end up with a soft but manageable dough. Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. Turn out onto a floured surface and knock down. Lightly knead in half the fruity filling, then, on a sheet of baking paper, roll out into a rectangle and leave to rest for about 10 minutes.
Using a pastry brush, spread melted butter evenly over the surface of the dough. Next spread over the fresh marmalade, then sprinkle the dried fruits evenly across. Roll the dough up into a sausage, then cut into slices approximately 2-3 cm thick. Turn these over and place in rows on a greased, lined baking sheet. Leave to rise. Before putting in the oven, baste the buns with egg wash. Bake on the middle shelf of a medium oven for about 25 minutes. Check that the bottoms are cooked through and watch out for overcooking on the tops. If desired, you can baste them again with a sticky glaze before leaving to cool. Try not to pull one off and eat it just yet.