Pumpkin Buns with Pumpkin Filling

Too spooky for me.

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Pumpkin-shaped bread has been really popular lately and I thought I’d try them too.

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In case it wasn’t obvious from its appearance, the bread contains pumpkin. For extra adherence to theme, pumpkin’s in both the bread and the filling.

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And yeah…I don’t know how the pinterest people did it but I couldn’t get the string off the bread in the end. Just get your friends to nibble round the string. Can’t do them too much harm. Extra fibre.

(Ok so after googling a bit turns out I was supposed to remove the string after the second proof. Oops.)

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The pumpkin’s not super obvious in the dough, but the bread itself’s still really tasty. Can’t go wrong with enriched bread.

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Crumb shot.

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Garnish with some decorations stolen from a cupcake shop. This recipe’s loosely based off this youtube video. I say loosely because I didn’t follow her bread technique and left out the milk in the filling.

Ingredients (makes 12)

  • 400g pureed pumpkin (about 1 can). Split into two portions, 100g for the dough and 300g for the filling.

Bread

  • 300g bread flour
  • 160ml milk
  • 40g butter, softened
  • 7g dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 40g sugar
  • 6g salt
  • Some string
  • Pecans to decorate

Filling

  • 40g butter
  • 40g sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon

Method

  1. Mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt together. Then add the milk and 100g pureed pumpkin. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  2. Knead in the butter until the bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Let the dough rise in a covered bowl until doubled in size (about 1.5 hours for me, see notes).
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling. Mix 300g pureed pumpkin with the butter, sugar, and cinnamon. Refrigerate until firm.
  5. When the dough is doubled in size, knockback and split the dough into 12 equal pieces.
  6. Flour a surface and your rolling pin and flatten each piece of dough. Add about 1/12 of the filling into the centre of the dough circle (about 1 tbsp). Close the dough around the filling well and shape until it’s round.
  7. Use string to tie the dough ball, dividing it into 8 segments. Place each shaped bun onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
  8. Cover with some floured clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour).
  9. After the buns have doubled in size, remove the string (which I clearly didn’t). Decorate each bun with a pecan piece to make the “stalk”. Brush each bun with some milk to give it a bit of colour.
  10. Bake at 180°C for about 20 mins or until well coloured.
  11. Let cool on cooling rack.

Notes

  • Make sure to seal the filling well with the dough or it will leak out.
  • Don’t tie the buns too tightly with the string or it’ll squeeze the filling out.
  • The timings for the proving are a rough guide. It’s pretty cold where I am right now so proving might be longer for me than it is for you.
  • Make sure to remove the string before baking lol.
  • If you’re going to puree your own pumpkin you might have to adjust the liquid levels. I feel like canned pureed pumpkin’s a little wetter.
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Pork Floss Buns

This is a soft, fluffy Asian-style bun with savoury pork floss and a delicately sweet, sticky filling.

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Like many Asian-style bread, it starts off with a water roux (tangzhong/汤种/湯種).

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This results in its characteristic fluffiness as opposed to the relative sturdiness of its western-style counterparts. In this case the softness of the dough was also aided by lots and lots of fat.

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I used a really ratchet brush to egg wash the rolls.

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And then decided to just change my mind and not egg wash the second batch (below). I honestly think it makes no difference since you’re going to cover the top with floss anyway. But since there’s a leftover egg yolk from making the dough, I guess you might as well just egg wash the top.

Also the second batch was larger because it was still rising in the time the first batch took to bake. But eh, I’m not looking for perfection.

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A transparent “mayonnaise” is used to stick the pork floss to the buns (and also looks suspiciously like something else…)

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The transparent mayonnaise tastes very similar to the one used by BreadTalk (a popular bakery chain in Singapore famous for its pork floss buns). The mayonnaise’s subtle sweetness really complements the savouriness of the bread and the floss. It also adds some much-needed moisture to the quite drying floss.

Also, injecting the mayonnaise into the slit in the bread is really immaturely fun.

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Oh yeah. If you don’t know what pork floss is, it’s a dried meat product which is slightly sweet. It’s really common in Chinese cuisine, and is used to pair with bread or porridge.

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I used the same dough as the one I used in my pineapple buns recipe, and just replaced the coconut cream with more double cream.

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Overall I thought this bake was pretty successful! It tasted really similar to BreadTalk’s pork floss bun which was where I got the inspiration from in the first place.

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You get a soft, fluffy enriched bun filled and covered with a sweet, sticky sauce. The whole thing is then topped off with the intensely savoury and mildly sweet pork floss, which adds a punch of saltiness, sweetness, and umami to the whole package.

The recipe of the bun was based off this one, and I got the recipe for the transparent mayonnaise from here, and reduced the sugar by 1/3.

Ingredients (makes 10 buns)

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 310g bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 110g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)
  • Pork floss (I didn’t measure how much I used, maybe about 100g? See notes.)

Transparent mayonnaise (A)

  • 20g sugar
  • 3g salt
  • 17g butter
  • 150g water

Transparent mayonnaise (B)

  • 43g sugar
  • 17g corn starch
  • 67g water

Method

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours.
  4. Knock down the bread dough and split the dough into 10 equal pieces. Shape each dough piece into a ball shape, and then roll out into a oval between two pieces of baking paper. Roll the flat oval from the long edge to obtain a long sausage shape.
  5. Place the sausage shaped dough onto baking paper. Cover with a piece of oiled clingfilm and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6. After doubled in size, create a egg wash with the leftover egg yolk and a splash of leftover cream. Brush over the top of the buns.
  7. Bake at 200ºC for 15-17 mins, or until golden brown.

Transparent mayonnaise

  1. Combine all the ingredients in (A) into a saucepan and heat over low heat. Stir occasionally until sugar and butter is completely melted.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the ingredients in (B) in a large bowl.
  3. When mixture (A) begins to boil, combine mixture (B) into mixture (A) and continue to cook over low heat. Remove from heat when mayonnaise thickens and gets transparent in colour.
  4. Allow to cool slightly before covering with clingfilm (to stop a skin from forming). Allow to cool completely to room temperature before using.

Assemble

  1. Create a lengthwise slit in each bun.
  2. Fill a piping bag with the transparent mayonnaise.
  3. Fill the slit with the transparent mayonnaise and spread some mayo over the top of the buns as well.
  4. Dump some pork floss over the top.

Notes

  • I call it “transparent mayonnaise” even though it’s not really mayonnaise. It doesn’t contain any eggs. I don’t know what its real name is, it’s just what the recipe source called it.
  • You can use any leftover transparent mayo in sandwiches.
  • If you want to be hardcore, you can try making your own pork floss I guess. I just bought mine from a store.
  • Heavy cream is also known as double cream or whipping cream.
  • All timings listed are a general guide. It’s better to follow the description (eg doubled in size) rather than the timings, as the timing depends on many factors like the activity of your yeast, or the surrounding temperature. For example bread proofs twice as fast in Singapore than in London due to the temperature and humidity difference (yaaaas).
  • It’s important to oil the clingfilm to cover the bread or the bread will stick to the clingfilm and you’d lose some of the volume in the bread when removing the clingfilm.

Char Siew Bo Lo Buns (Sweet Buns with Barbecued Pork Filling)

Revisiting this favourite of mine.

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So I’m back in Singapore! Which means not only am I reunited with my blowtorch (which will be relevant in a future post), but Char Siew (barbecued pork) is readily available at all times.

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Also, for some reason, I just think the flour in Singapore’s better suited (compared to London) for Asian bread? The flour just seems lighter with a smaller particle size somehow, which is better for the fluffy, sweet buns that’s characteristic of Asian bread.

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I’ve made this recipe before, but with a pineapple filling instead of the savoury filling I’m doing here. There’s more flowery, excited rhetoric about Bo Lo Bao and the difference between Asian and Western bread in that post, so check it out!

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Char siew is a classic filling in Bo Lo Buns. The sweetness of the topping marries perfectly with the (very) enriched dough and the sweet-salty umami of the pork.

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You get a complete package of textures as well, with the crunchy crumbly topping, the soft fluffy bun, and the…chewiness(?) of the meat. That’s the extent of my vocabulary, sorry.

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I ran out of clingfilm unfortunately so I had to use a damp cloth to cover the bread instead. So the bread stuck to the cloth and deflated a bit when I took the cloth off.

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I also learnt from my previous Bo Lo Bao attempt and used less topping this time! Definitely made the buns more presentable. If you use too much topping it kind of overflows and overwhelms the bun, kind of what was happening in the bottom left bun two pictures up.

(Also, isn’t that plate pretty? The luxury of non-student tableware)

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I used storebought Char Siew stir fried with some cornstarch, oyster sauce, and random condiments I had around the kitchen. I used the same recipe source as the last time I made this bun.

Ingredients (makes 10 buns)

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 310g bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 80g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 30g coconut cream (2 tbsp, shake well before using)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  • Char siew (I used about 20g for each bun, and I definitely think it could use with more filling. Meat’s expensive though D:)

Crust

  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 15g coconut cream (1 tbsp)
  • 110g cake flour (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 90g powdered sugar (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 15g custard powder (2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Egg wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp water

Method

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, yeast, and sugar. Then add the water roux, heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, coconut cream, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Crust

  1. Cream the butter until pale and creamy. Then add the large egg yolk and coconut cream and mix until thick.
  2. Add the cake flour, powdered sugar, custard powder, baking soda, and baking powder and mix with your hands until everything comes together into a dough.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Assembly

  1. Weigh your bread dough, and divide the mixture into 10. It won’t seem like a lot of dough but it will expand by quite a bit.
  2. Roll each ball out flat (not too thin, there’s not a lot of filling). Then scoop about 10g of pineapple jam (see notes) into the middle of each bread. Gather up the edges of the bread and seal well.
  3. Place each sealed ball of bread onto a lined baking sheet seam-side down. Cover and let rise for about 40 mins, not quite doubled in size.
  4. Make the coconut egg wash by mixing together the egg, coconut cream, and water.
  5. After the second rise, weigh and divide the topping into 10.
  6. Brush the buns with the egg wash.
  7. Roll the topping out into discs by placing the topping between 2 sheets of baking paper and rolling it with a pin. Place each disc on top of the buns. Make sure not to cover the whole of the bun, and only cover the top half (you might have to trim your disc). The topping will expand when baked.
  8. Brush the topped buns with the egg wash and leave for about 5 mins. Then egg wash it again. Sprinkle the top of the buns with some sea salt.
  9. Bake at 200ºC for 16-18 mins, or until golden brown.

Notes

  • This bun tastes best fresh out of the oven.
  • Heavy cream is also known as double cream or whipping cream.
  • For extra decadence, serve the bread with some cold butter.
  • All timings listed are a general guide. It’s better to follow the description (eg doubled in size) rather than the timings, as the timing depends on many factors like the activity of your yeast, or the surrounding temperature. For example bread proofs twice as fast in Singapore than in London due to the temperature and humidity difference (yaaaas).
  • Cover the bread with some oiled clingfilm to stop the bread from sticking to it.

Pineapple Buns (Bo Lo Bao)

This well-known Chinese bakery classic is interpreted literally by adding pineapple jam as a filling.

This bread uses the water roux (汤种/湯種/tangzhong) method which results in the fluffier texture that is characteristic of most Asian bread. The flour’s heated with the water first before adding the mixture to the dough. I’ve tried it before in my Matcha Bread with Azuki Filling, but I think this recipe yielded a much softer dough that’s easier to work with, that was more reminiscent of Chinese bread.

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Bo Lo Bao (菠萝包/菠蘿包) is typically a plain bun topped with a crunchy, sweet topping, and is a mainstay in many Chinese bakeries. The topping is made of a separate, sweeter dough which can also be the base of many Chinese cookies.

Common variations of the bun typically revolves around stuffing it with different things, like sweet barbecued pork (cha siu/叉烧/叉燒) or sweet red bean paste.

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Bo Lo Bao literally means “pineapple buns”, and it’s named because of its appearance, not because it contains pineapple (because it usually does not). The way the crunchy topping cracks when it’s baked reminds some people of how pineapple looks like but I have no idea what they’re on about.

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In my case though I thought why not put actual pineapple inside? I had loads of pineapple jam leftover from making pineapple tarts during Chinese New Year (yes it’s been more than 3 months but jam keeps well okay don’t judge me) and I really needed to use it up.

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And the jam tasted good with the bread! Lesson learnt though: definitely put less than 50g of jam in each bread. It was waaaaaaay too much. A smear of jam in the middle of each bread would probably have been much more appropriate.

Also I crowded my buns a bit too much so they ended up expanding into each other. So I lost that perfect round shape 😦

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The bread tasted great though, definitely my best Asian bread so far. I got the recipe from here.

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Look at that fluff!

If you want to try another bread with a similar concept (ie a soft bun with a sweet crunchy topping), check out my Melon Pan (which despite its name does not contain melon). Seems like Chinese and Japanese bakers just like to mislead their customers by naming their bread after fruits.

Ingredients (makes 10 buns)

Water roux

  • 75g water (1/3 cup)
  • 14g plain flour (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Bread dough

  • 310g bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 packet instant dry yeast
  • 25g granulated sugar (2 tbsp)
  • 80g heavy cream (1/3 cup)
  • 100g sweetened condensed milk (1/3 cup)
  • 30g coconut cream (2 tbsp)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 37g unsalted butter, softened (2 1/2 tbsp)
  • Sea salt for sprinkling
  • 100g pineapple jam to fill

Crust

  • 60g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 15g coconut cream (1 tbsp)
  • 110g cake flour (3/4 cup + 1 tbsp)
  • 90g powdered sugar (1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)
  • 15g custard powder (2 tbsp_
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Egg wash

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tsp water

Method

Water roux

  1. Mix the water, flour, and salt together in a microwave-proof bowl until there are no lumps.
  2. Microwave on high at 15 seconds intervals, whisking the mixture until smooth every time you take the bowl out of the microwave. The mixture is ready when it is thick and leaves behind ribbons.
  3. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Bread dough

  1. Mix together the bread flour, yeast, and sugar. Then add the heavy cream, sweetened condensed milk, coconut cream, and egg white. Knead well until the mixture is smooth and elastic.
  2. Add the softened butter in 3 additions, adding a new addition after the butter has been well incorporated into the bowl. Keep kneading until your bread reaches windowpane stage.
  3. Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Crust

  1. Cream the butter until pale and creamy. Then add the large egg yolk and coconut cream and mix until thick.
  2. Add the cake flour, powdered sugar, custard powder, baking soda, and baking powder and mix with your hands until everything comes together into a dough.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about an hour.

Assembly

  1. Weigh your bread dough, and divide the mixture into 10. It won’t seem like a lot of dough but it will expand by quite a bit.
  2. Roll each ball out flat (not too thin, there’s not a lot of filling). Then scoop about 10g of pineapple jam (see notes) into the middle of each bread. Gather up the edges of the bread and seal well.
  3. Place each sealed ball of bread onto a lined baking sheet seam-side down. Cover and let rise for about 40 mins, not quite doubled in size.
  4. Make the coconut egg wash by mixing together the egg, coconut cream, and water.
  5. After the second rise, weigh and divide the topping into 10.
  6. Brush the buns with the egg wash.
  7. Roll the topping out into discs by placing the topping between 2 sheets of baking paper and rolling it with a pin. Place each disc on top of the buns. Make sure not to cover the whole of the bun, and only cover the top half (you might have to trim your disc). The topping will expand when baked.
  8. Brush the topped buns with the egg wash and leave for about 5 mins. Then egg wash it again. Sprinkle the top of the buns with some sea salt.
  9. Bake at 200ºC for 16-18 mins, or until golden brown.

Notes

  • This bun tastes best fresh out of the oven.
  • If you are baking in 2 batches, keep the second batch refrigerated while waiting.
  • The topping of my buns expanded A LOT, it was practically pooling around my buns. I thought I topped my buns to the same degree as the original recipe source did, but I’d be a bit more conservative with the topping next time.
  • It’s really hard to find cake flour in London so I just used all purpose flour for the topping. I don’t think that’s why the topping expanded so much, and I think the texture was still good (even though it did not crack as much as I wanted it to).
  • Heavy cream is just double cream here in the UK.
  • For extra decadence, serve the bread with some cold butter.
  • I used closer to 50g of pineapple jam in each bun in my bid to use up the jam and it was much too sweet. Ended up removing most of the jam when eating it.
  • Honestly speaking though the pineapple jam did not add much to the bread, and I still prefer the bread plain.

Hot Cross Buns

This was my breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I enjoyed every crumb of it.

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It’s Easter! That means that all my friends and flatmates are either back home or travelling, leaving me to eat all my baked goods by myself. 😦

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Or 🙂 depending on how hungry I’m feeling.

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The first baked good that I think of when it comes to Easter is hot cross buns. I just love a good enriched bread with pockets of sweet fruit throughout. The jam used to glaze the buns also gives the bread a lovely shine, and makes eating the bread a fun, sticky affair.

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The bread is AMAZING slathered with butter, and I do mean slathered. As if the bread’s not enriched enough already I love cutting a slice of cold, unsalted butter to eat with the bread.

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This recipe is adapted from a Paul Hollywood recipe with minor changes (basically just switching orange zest for lemon zest, switching sultanas for raisins, and the type of jam used).

Ingredients (makes 12 medium-sized buns)

  • 330ml full-fat milk
  • 50g butter
  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil (for oiling the bowl)
  • 7g instant yeast (1 sachet)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 75g raisins
  • 50g mixed peel
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 apple (peeled, cored, and finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 75g plain flour (for making the cross)
  • 3 tbsp jam (convention is apricot jam but I just used whatever jam was in the fridge)

Method

  1. Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from heat and add the butter to melt the butter. Leave to cool until it’s about body temperature.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. When adding the ingredients to the bowl, add the yeast on the opposite side of the salt and sugar since the latter two could retard the yeast.
  3. Make a well in the center and pour in the warm milk and butter mixture. Then add the beaten egg. Mix well.
  4. Knead on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic. It might be sticky at first but just keep kneading until it comes together.
  5. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with oiled cling film. Leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  6. Mix the dough with the sultanas, mixed peel, lemon zest, apple, and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is evenly distributed. Cover and leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Divide the dough into 100g portions to make 12 rolls. Shape each dough into a ball by pulling on the top surface to create a smooth top. Arrange the buns on a baking tray, leaving some space between them for expansion. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for 1 hour more.
  8. To prepare the paste to make the cross, mix the 75g of plain flour with about 5 tbsp of water, adding the water 1 tbsp at a time so you just get a thick paste. Place the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross pattern onto the top of the bun once they are done with the final proof.
  9. Bake at 200°C for 20 mins until golden-brown.
  10. Gently heat the jam until it’s more runny, then sieve it to get rid of any chunks/seeds. When the bread and jam is still warm, brush the jam over the top of the buns and leave to cool.

Notes

  • If you don’t have a piping bag you can just use a zip-lock bag with a corner cut off.
  • Presentation-wise, try not to get any bits of fruit under the cross when piping since that can cause the cross to go wonky.
  • Any raisins left on top of the bun are going to burn. Speaking of which, I have no idea what the difference between raisins and sultanas are. The ones I used kind of look like sultanas but says raisin on the packaging so eh, use whatever you like.