Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Prune Cinnamon Buns


Last month, when my sister returned from US, she surprised me with a bucket full of exotic foods, one of which was a pack of lovely dried pitted plums – popularly called Prunes.

As soon as she showed them to me, before anything else, I rushed to my baking book to look for a recipe which would use prunes. Sadly, there was none. I wanted to stick to the recipes in the book for this blog, but nevertheless, I started hunting for one, off the internet  - I was game for any recipe that could be prepared with prunes playing the protagonist.

In the first few minutes, I came across tons of recipes; there were banana prune muffins, prune cakes, chocolate prune cakes, double-chocolate prune cakes. None of them really seemed to fascinate me. After glancing through a dozen websites, I finally landed on to BBC’s Prune Cinnamon Buns Recipe.
This was it! This had to be the one! What can I say, I'm a sucker for Cinnamon!  
After 2 days of preparing this amazing dish, here I am with its recipe, snaps and a point-by-point instruction on how to make these cin-ful buns!

(Makes 12 buns) 

Ingredients:

For the dough 
  • 500g white flour (Maida)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 50g light brown sugar ( I used ground white sugar instead, the sweetness of the two are the same, I checked)
  • 15g fresh yeast (1½ tsp dried yeast)
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 fresh eggs, plus one egg yolk, for glazing
  • Flavourless oil, for oiling 
       For the filling
  • 200g prunes, roughly chopped
  • 1 orange
  • 100g light brown sugar or ground white sugar
  • 1½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
For the syrup
  • ½ an orange juice
  • 25g/2oz caster sugar


Method:

1. The fruit should be soaked for a minimum of half an hour, but it can be made as much as a day in advance and that’s what I did, hence the 2-day process. Chop up the prunes roughly; squeeze out the juice of 1 orange, strain it to remove all seeds and fibre and soak in the prunes. Keep this in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for a day.


        2. Start the process of making the buns the next day in case you plan to soak the fruit for a day. Since many ingredients are not easily available in India, we tend to use substitutes. In the absence of fresh yeast I have used dried active yeast like many of us will. Warm the milk and add the yeast in it while stirring the milk vigorously, till there are no remnants. Squash them using the back of a spoon, it will soon dissolve in the warm milk. Set aside for 10 minutes.
    
  3. Meanwhile, mix together the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Rub the softened butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips. 
      Now this is a technique which needs care. The idea is to rub the butter in the flour to make breadcrumb like consistency, for which you must ensure that the butter doesn’t melt. Thus the aim is to keep the butter as cold as possible. If it is winter, then you will face little problem. In summers, you may take the following precautionary steps: 
   i. Ensure your hand is cold; run it under cold water for a minute.
  ii. Use only your fingers to combine and rub the butter into the flour as the temperature of your fingers is lesser than your palm.



    4.   You can check for the consistency by pressing the flour in your fist just for 5 seconds; if it binds together like in the picture below – you have nailed it!



5.   Now, make a well in the flour mixture. Pour the milk into the well and crack in one egg. Bring the dough together with your hands or with a spatula. (Though it gets a little messy, I would recommend using your hand.)  

6.   What you finally get will be a soft, supple dough - if it feels a little wet and sticky, don't panic. Keep mixing and the flour will absorb the liquid eventually.


7.   Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cut a small piece off and stretch the dough as thin as you can – if you can see light shining through the dough and you can see the shadow of your fingers held behind the thinnest part, it is ready.


8.   Put the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove for about 80-90 minutes. (Proving is the process during which the yeast starts working on the flour.)



9.   Meanwhile take a  small mixing bowl, beat the sugar and cinnamon into the softened butter with a fork until well combined. Set aside.



10. Lightly grease the base and sides of a deep roasting tin roughly 34x24cm/13x9in with butter and line with baking parchment.

11. When the dough has nearly doubled in size, tip it out of the bowl and knock the air out. Flour the work surface before you start. Knocking the air out removes the large air bubbles out of the dough and lend an even texture to the baked bread. I have attached pics as well as a video of the process.


          


video

12. Roll the dough into a rectangle, with a thickness of about 3mm. The long side of the rectangle should be about 12in long. Push the rolling pin away from your body,always rolling in one direction until there is an even thickness all over.  



13. Spread the cinnamon paste over the surface of the dough, ensuring the paste reaches all the edges. Drain the soaked prunes; albeit there won’t be much juice left, yet reserve if there is any, then sprinkle the prunes evenly over the dough.


             

                                      
14. Starting with the long side of the rectangle, roll the dough up into a sausage shape. You may need two people to work together at rolling the dough uniformly along the length. Flour the work surface and lay the rolled dough on top of the flour before cutting into rolls into 12 equal slices.

15. Place the slices side by side, with the spiral facing up, into the lined roasting tin. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove again for about 45 minutes.



16. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.When the buns have risen and feel springy to the touch, they are ready to bake. Beat the remaining egg and egg yolk together in a small bowl, and brush the tops of the buns with egg glaze. This will give the buns a shine and a lovely colour.


17. Bake the buns at 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 10 minutes and then lower the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Cook for a further 20 minutes.


18. While the buns are baking, make the syrup. Pour the reserved orange juice(if any) plus the juice of half an orange into a small saucepan with the sugar. Gently heat this mixture, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Bring the syrup to a boil and cook for not more than a minute. Set aside.



19. When the buns have finished baking, remove them from the oven and brush with the syrup so that the citrus freshness gets soaked into the buns. Transfer the buns on the paper to a wire rack to cool.



          Making these Cinnamon Buns has been a lot of fun. They come out really pretty and can be made prior to a fancy dinner party. Let me know how do you like them if you try it yourself! 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Banana and Walnut Muffins

This week, though I was to make a Banana Loaf (as per The Book)..I decided to make muffins instead. Why did I do so?

First of all, I hadn't used my brand new muffin pan yet!! Secondly, I do not own a loaf tin yet. Yeah..so there it was.. Muffins were made!

Sadly, they didn't come out as well, so much so that they have been christened as Batti by my lovely Marwadi family! 

Yet, I will share a few good pics that came out during its making and more importantly the learnings during the whole process.


The destiny of my muffin pan has been fulfilled!

Unsuspectingly snapchatting away!

Snowed them up with a little icing sugar! 

Will try this recipe once again with a few changes. Till then, lets just see what we can learn from this:

1. To ensure that  the cake/muffin/loaf comes out clean, be very careful as to how you prep your container. 
Ensure there is no moisture in there. Wipe it clean and dry before you layer it with oil. Other wise, this is how your pan would look. 


The reason is that the flour that you dust on the pan after this, will only stick to the greased areas.  

This is how the dusted tin MUST look like

2. When you mix ground sugar into beaten eggs with an electronic whip, keep the whipping blade inside the wet mixture before you switch it on.
Also, always add the sugar in a stream, slowly at the side of the bowl while the eggs are being whipped; do not dump it in the center.
If you try to insert the whipping blades into the mix with the sugar just plonked on it, the sugar will create a mess as it flies out of the bowl.

There is measurably no solution to get the same amount of sugar back into the bowl. I have no picture of this,but I hope you get the point! SUGAR-EVERYWHERE-MOM-SCREAMING. Yep exactly!

3. Who knew, sifting the flour has a science behind it.
It helps the air to enter the flour mix and aids in making our cakes fluffy!! So when you sift it, keep the sifting rack at a good height from your bowl. Tap the rack with the other hand skillfully so as not to lose any flour. Use a bowl with a large base for this!


4. A few more pointers to keep in mind to bake like a pro!

  • Always smooth out the top of the batter once you have poured it into your dusted pan.
  • Give a good tap to the tin. It removes any superfluous air from the cake.
  • Don't overfill the pan. Give it space to rise or else it will overflow.
  • Let the cake rest in the oven for around 5 mins. Don't pounce straight away.
  • Let the cake cool off a bit before you cut into it.

Hoping for no more baking disasters this week!


Friday, 1 January 2016

Magical Chilly Chocolate Truffles (Inspired by Chocolat)

Well, with all the excitement of New Year's Eve my sister and I were quite eager to experiment and make something special for the late night merry making with the family.

I have always been fascinated by all the treats that Vianne conjures up, in the movie Chocolat, in her pretty little Chocolaterie, while little Anouk played with her imaginary Kangaroo!

The most memorable of all her treats for me has been the Magical Chilly Chocolate Truffles! 

So last night we decided to replicate it by putting together various truffle recipes that I came across. 

So here's the delectable Chocolate truffles recipe! If you like the sound of it, I would suggest you to not wait, and while the holiday fat is anyway building up...just go for it and Bake it like me! ;) 


(Makes about 25-30 1 inch truffles)

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz (113g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (yes I mean chili)
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 6 oz (170g )good quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 tbsp Hershey's Chocolate Syrup 
  • Dairy Milk Drinking Chocolate Powder (for coating)

Special Equipment:

  • Parchment paper

Method:

  1. Whisk the cream cheese till it develops a beautiful and silky texture. 
  2. Add in the chili flakes, chili powder, cinnamon, vanilla extract and beat the mixture into a smooth blend.
  3. Take the chocolate, break it up roughly into medium sized pieces and heat them on a water bath. 
  4. Add in the melted chocolate and the syrup to the cream mix. Whisk it well, till all the ingredients have incorporated and refrigerate it for an hour.

  5. Spread the parchment paper and sprinkle chocolate powder. Now start rolling the mix into 1 inch balls and coat them with the chocolate powder. Place the coated truffles on parchment paper to avoid them from sticking  to the plate.
  6. Once done, refrigerate them for 5-6 hours. 


Tip:
You can also coat your truffles with crushed Oreo biscuit crumbs, chocolate sprinkles, melted white chocolate. Pick your favourite!