Yeast Buns

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About: As a kid my favourite book was the Australian classic "Dick Smith's Fun Way into Electronics"...

I recently completed the Science of Baking Class and the Bread Class and was inspired to revisit some old family recipes.

Yeast buns are a delicious traditional Cornish afternoon tea treat - I have great memories of making these with my Grandmother when I was a young child.

On extra-special occasions saffron (dried stigma from the Crocus sativus flower) is added to the buns - My Grandmother told me the use of saffron in Cornwall dated back to pre-Roman times when the Cornish traded with seafarers from the Middle East *

The saffron imparts a delicate floral flavour and an intense yellow colour - C. sativus is packed full of chemical compounds (crocins) which are responsible for the flavour and colour

See Step 10 for more details on the saffron bun variation.

*I am not a historian or an archaeologist and I have no proof to substantiate this claim.

Step 1: Ingredients

  • 680g strong high protein plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 225g room temperature butter
  • 3 sachets of dried yeast
  • 170g sugar
  • 225g currants
  • 57g mixed peel
  • 177mL water
  • 177mL full cream milk

Step 2: Equipment

  • Scales
  • Mixing bowl
  • Measuring jug
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Tea towel
  • Glad wrap
  • Baking tray
  • Baking paper

Step 3: Butter and Flour

  1. Put flour and salt in a large bowl
  2. Rub in butter* - As you would if you were making scones

*For those familiar with the science of making bread and brioche (link to scoochmaroo's excellent 'ible), adding a large amount of butter to high protein flour so early in the process may seem unusual and counterintuitive - activating the gluten network in high protein flour during the kneading process promotes strength and elasticity in dough however adding butter (fat) disrupts the network promoting a soft, tender texture - but it works in this recipe and seems to strike the right balance between strength and tenderness - I tried making these buns with all purpose flour and butter a few times but the texture wasn't quite right and the buns were too crumbly.

Step 4: Make the Dough

  1. Add sugar, currants and mixed peel to flour and margarine mixture
  2. Mix it together
  3. Make a well in the centre
  4. Sprinkle yeast around the sides
  5. Combine milk and water
  6. Warm milk and water - You can do this over a low heat on the stove but I just put it in the microwave for 40 seconds
  7. Pour milk and water into centre of well
  8. Knead mixture gently

Step 5: First Rise

  1. Cover dough with glad wrap and tea towel
  2. Place in warm spot to rise
  3. Let it rise for about 1 hour - Until dough has nearly doubled in size

Step 6: Preheat Oven

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees Celsius
  2. Do not use fan forced feature on the oven

I like to put the oven on at least half an hour before baking to get a nice even heat

Step 7: Second Rise

  1. Gently knead dough again
  2. Divide into 12 portions and form into buns
  3. Place on oven tray
  4. Cover with tea towel
  5. Place in warm spot to rise for another 25 minutes

Step 8: Cook

  1. Place the buns into the middle tray of the oven
  2. Cook for 20-25 minutes until the buns are golden on top
  3. To check that the buns are cooked through, tap the bottom of the bun lightly with your finger - it shouldn't feel soft or doughy

Step 9: Enjoy!

It's best to eat yeast buns on the day they are cooked.

Step 10: Saffron Bun Variation

  1. Before adding the milk and water to the flour mixture grab a pinch of saffron
  2. Put them on an oven tray in a low oven for a few minutes to let them dry out - don't let them burn
  3. Crush the fronds between your fingers and put them in a small bowl
  4. Add 60-80mL of boiling water and leave it for a few minutes until it takes on an intense yellow colour
  5. Add this to the milk and water mixture and return to Step 4

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    2 Discussions

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    audreyobscura

    4 weeks ago

    Thanks for taking my class! These raised buns look great! I've been meaning to experiment with adding dried fruits. One of my trusty baking books recommends soaking dehydrated fruits for a few hours before adding it to the dough...thanks for the inspiration to experiment!

    1 reply
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    ptevyesauraudreyobscura

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    Thanks for your class. I really enjoyed taking it. I’ll experiment and try soaking the currants next time - Nothing wrong with straying from tradition. Not sure whether to try water, brandy or rum first...