Not bad for a first attempt at baking something bready!
After my attempt to make bread a few months back was fairly successful, I returned to The Big Book of Bread to find a finger bun recipe. They didn’t have one, so I used the one for “Devonshire splits”, figuring that a sweet bun recipe is just that and I could roll the dough into long shapes rather than rounds.
All-in-all I was pleased with the results although, when I make these again, I think I’ll leave the dough to prove for even longer because I’d like the end result to be a little lighter.
Ingredients (makes 10-12 finger buns depending on how big you make them)
- 350 g / 12 oz strong plain white flour
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 40 g / 1.5 oz butter, diced
- 1.5 tsp easy-blend dried yeast
- 40g / 1.5 oz caster sugar
- About 200 ml / 7 fl oz warm milk (I gave it 40 seconds in the microwave. “Warm” means tepid)
- Icing sugar, water and food colouring for the glaze
Grease two baking trays and put to one side. You won’t need them for ages, but it’s good to get this stage out of the way.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter. Mix in the yeast and caster sugar. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and add enough milk so that by mixing you get a soft dough. The original recipe is deliberately vague as to what “enough” means. I used 180 ml, but I’d suggest starting at 150 ml, mixing it through and then adding a little more if you need to.
I did the mixing by hand and found it quite easy. You can also use the dough attachment of an electric mixer.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. I kneaded the dough for about 5 minutes. You can also let your mixer do this stage too if you have a dough hook.
Roll your dough into a ball and put it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and then leave to rise in a warm place (or at least room temperature, tucked away from any cold breezes) until it’s doubled in size. I left the dough for a bit more than 2 hours and if I made these again I think I’d leave it a little longer.
Now “knock back” the dough. Use you fist to press the dough down into the bowl, knocking the air out of it. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead again for a few minutes. Divide it into however may portions you want for your finger buns and roll into finger shapes (try to get them a bit more regular than mine if you can!). Put the dough fingers on your baking sheets, cover them and leave them to rise again until doubled in size.
I left mine for 45 minutes but, again, when I make these again I’m going to leave more time to let them rise further before baking. While they’re rising, pre-heat your oven to 220 degrees C (200 fan) / Gas Mark 7 / 425 degrees F. Now, this is where my mantra of “know your oven” becomes crucial. I have a fan oven and put it at 190 degrees. I put the timer on for 8 minutes thinking there was no way they would over-bake in that time… Hmn. Check out what happened in 8 minutes:
The finger buns are slightly browner in places than I would have liked. I turned the oven off at 8 minutes and left them in there for another 8, just to make sure they were baked through to the centre. If they’re done they should feel soft and sound hollow if you tap them underneath. I was quite pleased with the internal texture of mine, and they were certainly baked thoroughly:
Put the finger buns on a wire rack to cool completely. When they’re cold you can make the icing. It’s a simple mix of icing sugar and a small amount of water. Add the water very gradually, starting with a teaspoon, because you want the icing to be thick so it won’t simply run off the finger buns. If your icing is too thin, just add more icing sugar to thicken it up. Add a few drops of whatever colouring you like. Use a teaspoon to drop the icing onto the buns and the back of the spoon to spread it.
These keep well in an airtight container for a couple of days but are best eaten as quickly as possible!
And here’s the evidence I made bread before!
Claire Huston / Art and Soul