I think I lack the patience for yeast. I'm not very good at waiting for things to happen, when I set my mind to something I want it done as soon as possible. Waiting three-and-a-half hours for something to rise because it's so cold doesn't appeal to me, not one little bit. It makes me fret and worry and want to throw in the towel.
And I almost did, I almost declared these buns dead. Boy, am I glad I didn't.
The first rise was supposed to take just over an hour, however when I peaked at my dough after on the hour nothing had changed. Nothing. My dough was a sad little lump sitting in a bowl far to big for it. No growth, no nothing.
When I checked half-an-hour later it was the same story. Still a sad little lump. I was starting to fret, saying "Well, I knew yeast hated me. Why did I even start this obviously wasn't going to work"... blah, blah, blah.
However, today I wasn't going to be a giver-upper. I was going to be a winner.
So I moved by sad little dough into the bed and turned on the electric blanket. I tucked in the covers and set a timer.
An hour or so later, I went to peak and my dough had risen but not enough. Still, a start is a start. So I turned up the bed and left it to rest, an hour later it had risen perfectly. The dough no longer seems to be for the bowl, in fact it seemed just right.
The next part was easy. Roll the dough, fill the dough, shape the dough, tuck it back into bed for 40 minutes, bake it, and then (finally) eat it. Though it took longer than expected it was absolutely worth it.
So, what did I learn today? Dough likes electric blankets as much as I do and be patient. Needless to say, I'll have forgotten the latter lesson by tomorrow.
Cinnamon, currant, & apricot buns
(adapted from The Art & Soul of Baking)
makes 10 buns
125ml (1/2 cup) tepid milk
50g (1/4 cup) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
or1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg plus one egg yolk, at room temperature
355g (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
115g (4 oz) unsalted butter, very soft
1 large egg, lightly beaten
115g (1/2 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
75g (1/2 cup) currants
55g (1/3 cup) dried apricots
Combine the warm milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk by hand to blend well. Let the mixture sit for 5 to 10 minutes, until the yeast is activated. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk, by hand, until well blended. Stir in the flour and salt.
Attach the dough hook to your mixer and knead, on low, for 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 1 minute. With the mixer still running, add the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time ensuring each addition is well blended before adding the next. Once all the butter is added, decrease the speed to low and continue to knead for 5-6 minutes, or until the dough looks soft and silky.
Lightly butter or oil a bowl, scrape the dough in, and brush the surface with a little butter. Cover in plastic wrap, or a damp cotton towel, and let the dough rise until doubled, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. It is helpful to mark the starting level of the dough with a pencil or a piece of tape.
Lightly grease and line the base of a 25cm (10 inch) round cake pan. Coarsely chop the apricots, and place them in a small bowl with 1/3 cup boiling water.
Turn the dough out on to a flour dusted work surface. Press down firmly with your hands to expel as much gas as possible. Dust the top of the dough with flour and then roll it into a 25cm by 40cm (10 inch by 16 inch) rectangle. Position the dough so that the longest side is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Brush away any remaining flour.
Brush the dough evenly with a thin film of egg. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the egg glaze. Scatter the currants over the top. Drain the apricots and scatter them evenly on top of the currants.
Beginning with the edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder, tucking and tightening as you go. Roll the dough backwards, so that the seam is facing upwards and pinch to seal the dough. Turn the seam side down and cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. With a cut side up, gently press down on each bun to flatten them slightly. place the buns in the prepared 25cm (10 inch) cake tin.
Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap, or a damp tea towel, and set aside until the rolls have almost doubled in size, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), and position an oven rack in the center. Bake the buns for 30-35 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and, after 5 minutes, turn the buns out of the pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.