Easter Bun … seriously good

Here is another recipe for bun. It is an evolved version from the non-fail, anecdotal one in my earlier post.   Use this for making seriously good bun.  Eat with lots of cheese. Jamaican tradition says to use Tastee cheese, which is a processed yellow cheese sold in a giant red tin.  I prefer a good sharp Cheddar or a fine buttery Gouda.

EASTER BUN

Easter Bun and Cheese
Easter Bun and Cheese

½ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
6 tsp Dry Active Yeast

½ cup warm water
1 egg, beaten
3 tbs Butter, melted
1 cup Brown sugar
4 tbs molasses
1 tbs vanilla

4 cup Bread flour
1 Whole Nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 ½ tsp salt
1 cup mixed fruit (raisin, citron, cherries)

Molasses Wash made with 2 tbs molasses, 1 tbs water and 1 tsp sugar

Proof yeast in ½ c water & 1 tsp sugar

Mix liquids, sugar, salt & vanilla.
Add 2 cups flour with yeast. Mix in other flour with fruit. Knead for 10 mins.

Rest in lightly greased bowl for 2 to 2 1/2  hours under parchment & tea towel.

When doubled, shape into 2 loaves and rise for another 1-2 hours.

Brush loaves with melted butter before placing in oven.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Brush loaves with a wash of molasses, water & sugar. Bake for another 15 minutes.

Buns are cooked when a skewer comes out clean.

 

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Bread Baking Binge

I’ve been on a bread baking binge.   Fueled by my  success with Easter Bun, I stocked up on flour determined to try different types of bread. Starting with Robin Hood’s Basic White Bread.  My, oh my. What a revelation.  I do believe I’ve found a new hobby.

The marvel in making regular bread is that it rises so much more than sweet bread.  Twice as high and twice as fast. The first time I peeked under the tea towel I was  surprised at how much the dough had risen.   After de-gassing  and reshaping into loaves, it rised again.  Twice as high and twice as fast as Easter bun.   Why is that ?

Yeast loves sugar but too much sugar inhibits growth.   Easter Bun has a full cup of sugar while a Basic White has 2 tablespoons.  To compensate, Easter Bun uses 6 teaspoons of Active Yeast while Basic uses 2 1/4 teaspoons. Even so, the rise in the sweet bread takes longer and is not nearly as high.  This is not to disparage – the appeal of real Jamaican bun is its dense, sweet chew, its full toothesome goodness, its spicy complement to buttery cheese … hmm, where was I …

Bread making is different from cake making.  I make cakes regularly and am comfortable in whipping up butter cakes, sponges, muffins, etc.  I’ve always stayed away from  real breads, scared off by the finickiness of yeast and the long yeild times. Plus there’s a whole mystique about the craft which is quite intimidating.  For instance, I bought Jeffrey Hamelman’s book on “Bread – A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes.”  After flipping through the first eight pages on just mixing the flour, I hastily closed the tome and moved on.    It took a wave of  nostalgia for Easter bun (and inability to purchase in Singapore ) for me to try making it by hand.   Luckily this time, four years later, it worked.

Robin Hood has a delightfully straightforward recipe for Basic White Bread.  Here is my variation for a Whole Grain version.

WHOLEGRAIN WHEAT BREAD

½ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk
½ cup warm water
2 tbs butter
3 tbs molasses
1 ½ tsp salt

4 ½ cup bread flour
1 cup wholegrain flour

Proof yeast in ½ c water & 1 tsp sugar

Mix milk, water, butter, molasses & salt
Add 2 cups bread flour with yeast. Mix in the remaining bread and wholegrain flour.  Knead for 5 mins.

Rest in lightly greased bowl for 1 hour under parchment & tea towel.

When doubled, place on lightly floured board anc cut into two pieces.  Use your fingers to press into a rectangle and remove the excess air (de-gas).  Shape the loaves by rolling into a tight roll and placing into 2 floured loaf tins (8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ x 2 3/4″  or 1.5L). Cover with tea towel and rise 1 hour.

Bake at 400 for 30 minutes.

Brush with butter for a soft crust.  Makes 2 loaves.

 

 

Home-made Easter Bun … the Non-Fail Version

Home made Easter Bun - Take 2After my less than successful first attempt, I did try making Easter Bun a second time.

It was better.

At least, it was edible and I could cut it with a knife.   It was not as good as most store-bought versions, but good enough for someone stranded in a Jamaican bakery embargo zone.

The recipe is derived from  ‘Traditional Jamaican Cookery’ by Norma Benghiat.

Metric conversions and approximations are mine. Editorial comments  (written like this) are also mine, based on experiential trial and error.  Mostly errror.

 

Jamaican Easter Bun 

6 tsp Traditional Dry Active Yeast (Fleishman’s  in a bottle, not in a packet)

1 cup Milk, hot
1 cup Butter or Margarine, melted
1 cup Brown sugar
1 Whole Nutmeg, freshly grated
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground ginger
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp molasses
1 egg, beaten

6 cup Flour
4 oz raisin (or 125 g which is about ½ cup)
4 oz currants (or 125 g …)
4 oz chopped citron (or …)
4 oz cherries (…)

1  heavy duty KitchenAid Mix Master

Proof yeast by dissolving into ½ cup warm water (50 degrees according to Fleischman) . Add 1 tsp of sugar. Leave for 10 minutes until foamy.

Hint: Use a bowl large enough for the yeast to foam and bubble up like the incredible blob in a cheesy SciFi movie.
Large .. like a big Japanese ramen soup bowl or a 1 quart mixing bowl.
Large .. like not an oatmeal cereal bowl.

Mix milk, butter, spices, sugar , eggs, salt & molasses.

Mix flour with dried fruits.

Place half in the Mix master . Use dough hook. Add yeast & mix . Add liquid & remaining flour.

Have the Mixmaster knead dough until smooth. Might be around 5 minutes.

Hint: The dough is pretty stiff and the Mixmaster might start walking across the counter. Be a man’ and  lock it down – it’s not the Master of you

Proof dough by placing in a large bowl, cover and let raise for 2 hours at room temperature.

Hint: If the room is cool (say, in Canada on a cold day) place over (not in) a pan of hot water. If the room is hot (say, Singapore on a typical day) place it close to a pan of ice cubes.

After 2 hours, do the 2 finger test. Stick 2 fingers in the dough & if it doesn’t immediately collapse into the holes, it’s ready.

Divide dough into 3 loaves and do the second & final raise for another hour.

Preheat oven to 325. Bake loaves for 30 minutes. Brush tops with mixture of sugar, molasses & water. Bake for another 15 minutes. Buns are cooked when a skewer comes out clean.

Hint: If the yeast was alive and well, the loaves will rise and expand in the oven a third time. This is proof of life.  If the yeast was stale and dead … well that was my previous post.

How Not to make Jamaican Easter Bun

  • easterbun
    Jamaican Easter Bun

    Read the recipe with only scant attention to the instructions.

What’s critical to get right, is the ingredients list

  • Substitute ingredients you’ve never used before with ingredients you’ve never used before

Becaaause … you got this …

  •  Pretend that you can read the small print on the yeast package.

How different can  Instant Yeast be from Active Yeast ?

  •  Guess at conversions from imperial to metric

A pound is roughly 500g is roughly 2 cups, right?

  • Read the instructions too quickly, under low light conditions, without your glasses.

Recipes are just guidelines anyways 

  • Ignore the instructions and do it your way.

Guidelines are for rookies

  • Do not use your heavy duty Kitchenaid Mix Master with a dough hook

Kneading bread is easy. People have been doing it from time immemorial. 

  • Knead five pounds of bread dough after two hours of physiotherapy on your right shoulder.

Physio is good. More physio must be better.

  • Think that after three hours of not proofing, the bread dough will magically raise in the oven.

It says so on the Internet 

  • Believe that even after baking into blocks of fruit studded concrete, the loaves will soften on cooling.

 It says so on the Internet, right after that proofing thing

  • Think it normal to have to use a Chinese cleaver to cut a loaf of bread.

A hammer and hacksaw ?  Now, that  would be too much

  • And if shards of bun splinter off the cutting board and blind the cat

… Blame the cat for sitting in the line of fire