Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shoo Fly or Currant Buns

On one of Hannah's Playschool dvd's there is a song about currant buns. They became a big topic of conversation, and so last weekend she helped me make them. It's a pretty simple recipe if you have a Bamix or food processor for pureeing the orange needed in the recipe. You just need to allow time for rising (this can be an issue if your cooking with a little person who wants instant results).

The other problem with making yeast goods with a three-year-old is with all the will and effort in the world, they lack the muscle to make a decent effort at kneading. I've a suspicion that sometimes the required kneading is over-rated. One day I meant to blog about the Dan Lepard bread workshop I attended last year which demonstrated very successfully how to make good bread without kneading.

The recipe is from a cracker of a book, 'Baker; the best of international baking from Australian and New Zealand professionals' by Dean Brettschneider and Lauraine Jacobs. The shoo fly bun recipe originates from Babka in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, which is a sublime place for breakfast or lunch. They are best the day made (sublime freshly buttered when still warm from the oven), but re-heated the next day (to counter staleness) the buns are still good. I've adapted the recipe a little, putting less salt and have halved the amount of currants (until I've worked out how to avoid them getting charred by the oven when they sit on top of the bun).

500g plain flour
1 tsp salt
50g sugar
25g skim milk powder
50g unsalted butter
8g dried yeast
150g water
250g (about 1/2) pureed oranges (chop up, remove pips, puree)
125g currants

Place flour, salt, sugar, milk powder, and butter into a bowl. Make a well and add the yeast, water and pureed oranges. Mix then knead for 10-15 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. You want a soft, not too firm dough so adding some more flour or water may be necessary.

Add currants, gently incorporating them into the dough. Place dough in oiled bowl. Cover with cling wrap, leave in a warmish place (23-25 degrees C) and allow to double in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Gently knock back the dough so that it deflates, cover and leave for 30 minutes.

Tip dough onto a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 pieces. Mould each piece into a ball. This is done by cupping the hand over a dough piece on a flour-less bench, applying downwards pressure and moving your hand around in circular motions. (If making with a small person use any method that works!).

Place on a greased baking tray, cover again with cling wrap and allow to rise for about 1 hour or until nearly doubled in size.

Place in pre-heated 200 degree C oven and bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be lightly coloured on the sides and a little darker on the top. Brush immediately with glaze.

Sticky Bun Glaze:
50g sugar
2 tbs water
a little orange zest

Bring to the boil in a saucepan until sugar dissolved.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mystery plum

Out of curiousity I'm posting photos of the plums mentioned in the previous post. I'd be most interested to hear if anyone recognises the variety. The two specimens below are what I'd regard as over-ripe, but photograph clearly shows up their unusual shape.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Plum Sorbet

We've lovely Italian neighbours on both sides of our house; one of them is an ardent a fruit and veggie grower as me. Every year we get gifts of excess fruit, plus I'm commanded to pick everything that hangs over the fence (figs, grapes, persimmons, perennial chilies...). We're currently working our way through a big bag of stone fruit; some white nectarines with greenish yellow skins the likes of which I've never seen before, and some greenish yellow plums (long with points at either end) again a novelty to me. The nectarines are lovely, I been eating them my favourite way, chopped up with yoghurt and honey for breakfast. The plums.... well I'm not really a plum eater. Looking guiltily at the neglected bowlful I decided to trying stewing them and turning them into a sorbet. So if they were a bit bland I could zip things up with some more sugar and lemon juice.

Well if I'd known how good was going to end up I'd have taken some before shots, it was just sublime. The sorbet was rich and plumy in a totally unfamiliar way. Hannah's Dad pointed out that if one hadn't know what the fruit was, it would be assumed to be tropical and exotic.

I'm not sure how repeatable this is, but I'm now inclined to try out other plum varieties (the organic stalls at Vic Market always have a large selection of varieties at this time of year). So what I did is as follows:

10 or so plums (enough to make 2 cups of stewed fruit)
Sugar to taste, probably around 1/2 cup

Stew plums, if you cook them really slowly to start with you can avoid adding water, otherwise add about a tablespoon just so they don't catch as they commence cooking.

Cook on a gentle heat until very soft. Cool and puree. Check they are sweet enough, add a little castor sugar if you think they need it.

Pour into ice-cream machine and process until the right consistency.