What I am baking today - 12 February 2013
100 g water
100 g sugar
500 g plain white wheat flour
2.5 g instant/5 g dry/10 g fresh yeast
125 g butter, melted
100 g milk, heated to just below boiling and allowed to cool down
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 teaspoons ground mahlab (you can get his in a greek/turkish/armenian/north african shop/middle eastern shop)
10 g salt
For the glaze
1 tablespoon water
Pinch each of salt and sugar
Make the dough
Measure the flour into a bowl and make a well in it. Measure in the sugar and the yeast and then pour in the water. Flick flour on top of the water to close the well and let it sit for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, heat the milk and put it in a big mixing bowl. Melt the butter and add it to the bowl. Measure in the brandy and the vanilla.
In a seperate bowl, beat the eggs and then - continuing to beat - add the milk mixture to the eggs (or the eggs to the milk mixture - it does not matter as long as you beat the whole time so the eggs don't cook, but so that they thicken the mix.) Set this aside until the hour is up.
When the hour is up, sprinkle the salt and the spices around the edge of the flour and pour the egg and milk mixture into the middle of the bowl. Bring it together inta a ball and then scrape it onto the counter. Knead well for 10 minutes. It is soft and sticky but don't add more flour.
After 10 minutes, put it back in the bowl and cover it. Let it rest for 2 hours.
Shape the buns
Pull the dough out onto a non floury surface and divide it into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball (for a video on how to do this see here) and let them rest for 5 minutes under a dry cloth.
After five minutes, you have various choices.
1. You can roll them out into sausages and curl them up.
2. You can carve a circle around the top of the bun.
3. You can roll them into an oval about 1/2 cm thick (you need a bit of flour and a rolling pin for this) and, with a knife, cut them out to look like little people.
However you shape them, place them on a baking tray that you have lined with non stick parchment. Cover them with a dry cloth and let them rest for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees.
Beat together the ingredients for the glaze and paint each bun. Decorate them with raisins, chocolate chips, nuts, seeds, sprinkles...whatever you want. Pop them in the oven for 20 minutes but check them after 15 and cover them with greaseproof paper or aluminium foil if they are getting too brown.
Let cool on a wire rack before eating with a cup of tea or a glass of vodka or, if you are in Armenia, you may be offered home made brandy or wine - both of which are delicious.
This recipe is in The Book of Buns published in October 2013. You can get it from Amazon.