White Chocolate and Cream Buns

Dear All, this is the last recipe before I go on holiday. Yes, two whole weeks with very limited Internet access back home, in Italy, staying at my mum’s house. I can already see where this is going: plenty of food, amazing pizzas and possibly some sunshine on the side (the weather forecasts are not that promising). And I can also tell you that, much to my disappointment, I will be missing the first and the second episode of the Great British Bake Off, which starts next Tuesday on BBC One. Therefore, let’s fire up the ovens (I don’t know about yours, but mine is electric anyway) and let’s make something sweet before the great season begins!

This is an Italian recipe, although slightly adapted. I found it in one of the many cooking magazines my mum decided I NEEDED to take back home with me last time I went to Italy, in a special issue about breads. The original recipe asked for the dough to be enriched with the white chocolate chunks during the kneading phase. That, however, seemed to me like a blatant contre sense, simply because you then needed to spread it out with a rolling pin and then roll it back up and cut it. In very practical terms, I thought that with the chunks in the dough itself, rolling it out would have been like trying to tar a very bumpy road. Therefore, I decided to keep the dough plain and to add the chocolate chunks at a later stage. I also thought the chocolate decoration on the top looked nice, but feel free to leave it out. See you back in August!

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Ingredients

  • 800g plain flour
  • 200g strong bread flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 20g salt
  • 2 x 7g sachets fast action yeast
  • 300ml double cream
  • 260ml whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 x 295g bag white chocolate chips
  • 75g white chocolate, melted over bain marie (optional)

Method

  1. Pour the milk and the cream in a saucepan, then bring to the boil over a gentle heat. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to slightly warmer than room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer fitted with the hook attachment, combine the flours, salt, yeast and sugar, then slowly add the milk and cream mixture with the machine on. Add the butter and keep on kneading. You are aiming for a soft but firm dough. Turn out the dough onto a work surface and knead by hand until smooth. Return to the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  3. Punch back the dough and turn it out onto a work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a big rectangle, approximately 40x30cm. Scatter the chocolate chips onto the dough and gently press them onto it. Starting from the top, begin to roll up the dough moving to the bottom of the work surface and by stretching it as much as you can so that the rolls are very tight.
  4. Cut the big roll into 16 slices, then arrange them onto two baking trays lined with parchment, cover with a towel or with clingfilm and leave to prove for another hour or until doubled in volume. When ready, pre-heat the oven to 200C.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, but cover them with foil if they start going too brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  6. To decorate them, transfer the melted white chocolate to a piping bag and drizzle it over the buns or use a teaspoon if you prefer. Allow the chocolate to firm up, then enjoy with a cup of tea.

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