Brioche buns

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If brioche buns were a challenge on The Great British Bake Off I would have ended up in tears! I decided to give them a go yesterday to accompany our pulled pork for dinner. Last year, there was a recipe for them in Good Food magazine which I saw, so I decided to dig it out. How hard can they be? Why buy them when I can make them myself? I thought to myself. It turns out that me and brioche dough aren’t really the best of friends!

The original recipe from Good Food will make 12-16 buns. I decided to halve the ingredients (possibly part of my problem) as we didn’t need that many buns. I ended up with 4! (instead of 6-8) I think this was because the dough is so sticky and kept on sticking to my hands that a lot of it probably ended up being washed down the sink. Despite my grumblings, my final result wasn’t actually too bad – they looked like brioche rolls and met with Mr Birdie’s approval.

A word of warning, if you don’t have a dough scraper I would seriously consider purchasing one before making these buns. If I was to make these again I think I would seriously consider kneading the dough using the dough hook of my food processor. You can also leave the steam out of the cooking if you prefer a crustier bun. I’ve listed the ingredients to make the full set of rolls (12-16). You will need to set aside proving time (1-3 hours) so make sure you factor this in. They can be made up to 1 day ahead and stored in a airtight container until needed.

Ingredients:

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250ml warm water
2 teaspoons dried yeast (not fast-action)
3 tablespoons warm milk
2 tablespoons golden caster sugar
450g strong flour (plus extra for dusting)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened)
2 large eggs, plus 1 beaten egg for glazing
Sesame seeds for sprinkling

Method:
1) Mix the warm water, yeast, warm milk and sugar in a bowl. Let it stand for 5 mins until it becomes frothy (this is how you know the yeast is working.)

2) Tip the flour and 1 teaspoon salt into a large mixing bowl, add the butter and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

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3) Make a well in the centre of the buttery flour and add the warm yeast mixture and the eggs.

4) Use your hands to mix it into a sticky dough (don’t worry if the mixture feels a little wet at this stage, it will come together when kneading.) Tip the dough out onto a floured work surface.
5) Knead the dough for 10 minutes by stretching it on the work surface (it will still be very sticky at this stage but don’t be tempted to add too much flour.)

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6) The dough is ready when it feels soft and bouncy (this means that the gluten strands have developed – it will still however feel quite sticky.) Place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and set aside to rise for 1-3 hours or until doubled in size.

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7) Once the dough has doubled in size, knock the air out and knead again for 2 mins. The dough should be much less sticky now, but add a little flour if it needs it.

8) Divide the dough into 12-16 even pieces. Roll into balls and arrange on lined baking trays. Loosely cover with oiled cling film and leave for about 1 hour or until doubled in size again. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas 6 and place a shallow baking tray at the bottom.

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9) Uncover the trays, brush the buns with egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Pour a cup of water into a baking tray at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden, then leave to cool on a wire rack.

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