I didn’t feel much like baking last week. I had one of those is-it-or-isn’t it colds that sits in the back of your throat and sucks the life out of you without any visible symptoms. I had to make something though. It was the last week of the Bake Off after all. I couldn’t face puff pastry, or anything fancily decorated, so I decided to try Paul Hollywood’s iced bun recipe from BBC Food.
I have tried to make sweet dough before with no success. I made two batches of hot cross buns at Easter – neither tasted right and, for my husband’s birthday, I tried a chocolate savarin which even the birds didn’t want. Perhaps I’d get it right this time.
As per the recipe, I put strong white flour, caster sugar, softened unsalted butter, eggs, instant yeast, salt, warm milk and water into a bowl (I had to keep a quarter of the recipe amount of water back to add later). I was supposed to stir it with my hands, but I just wasn’t in the mood so I used the dough hook on the KitchenAid – all of the Bake Off finalists used a machine for their iced fingers I noticed – so it must be OK.
The recipe says that you should add the remaining water to form a dough and knead it in the bowl for four minutes. I never really got to the dough-forming stage. The mixture was just wet and soupy. I kneaded (with the machine) for ages – over ten minutes – and all I had was slop. I checked the recipe amounts and checked them again. I had put the right amount of water and milk in, but something must have been wrong. I couldn’t keep kneading, I just wasn’t getting anywhere. I put an extra handful of flour in. It was probably completely the wrong thing to do, but, with the flour, the mixture did at least resemble dough rather than porridge.
Once I’d got something that looked a bit like the smooth and elastic dough required, I covered it with a tea towel, cranked up the kitchen radiator, and left it to prove for an hour (actually, I left it to double in size, which took a bit more than an hour).
When I went back to it, the dough was still quite sloppy, but it was just about OK to work with. I roughly divided it into twelve – I simply didn’t have the patience to be precise about it. I rolled the pieces into finger shapes and put them onto a couple of greased baking trays, then left them to prove again.
Once, proved, they went into the oven at 200° fan for ten minutes.
Now, I know, a Bake Off iced finger should be full of all sorts of goodness, a delectable crème patissiere lightly flavoured with cardamom perhaps, homemade rosewater jam, icing with a hint of lavender. I may have had a go at something exotic had I felt better but, being completely devoid of mojo, I went with the jam that was open in the fridge (apricot), and a can of vanilla flavoured squirty cream, Paul and Mary’s toes would curl I know.
Here are the final iced fingers.
They weren’t as bad as I thought they would be. The buns themselves weren’t quite right – a bit on the spongy side – but any failings in the dough were disguised by the icing (which was just icing sugar and water) and the cream.
My son – he’s three – said that he really liked the taste of his bun, but the texture was too strong – I asked and, no, he didn’t mean wrong. Apparently, there were too many vitamins and minerals in it for his liking. Hmm… I’ll know for next time.