As a result of making ‘rabbit in an apple, mustard and cider sauce’ the other day, I found myself with ½ a bottle of cider left over. Normally I would just drink it, but as I had some fresh yeast in the fridge that I also needed to use up, I decided to try and make some buns with them. I had heard of beer bread before, so I guessed that there should be no reason why cider wouldn’t work.
As I wanted the buns to be sweet, I added both fresh and dried fruit to the dough after the first rising. I’ve never put fresh fruit into bread dough before, but on the basis that you can add weird and wonderful things to focaccia I thought I would give it a go.
I took two of the buns up to ‘the mountain’ (a local village with a wood fired bread oven) for them to try this morning. I have had many discussions with the bread makers up there about the difference between English and French breads and this morning I was able to give them an example of a bun that was very similar in consistency to that of a Hot Cross Bun. The buns were divided up and given out. There were some wary looks at this foreign bread, followed by much sniffing before the eventual consumption. To my relief they all seemed to enjoy it remarking that it was similar in texture to that of a brioche and demanding to know what spices were in it.
Enthused by their reaction, I decided to ask if I could cook in their oven next weekend after they have made their own bread. The answer was positive, however there was one condition – I have to help them prepare their loaves next Sunday, which means a 5.00 am start. Whilst I am not looking forward to getting up before the cock crows, I am looking forward to trying a traditional French bread oven and seeing how they make their pain de campagne which we tend to buy every Sunday.
Fruit and Cider Buns
- 400g white flour (type 55 or equivalent)
- 25g fresh yeast
- 25g melted butter
- 225 – 275 ml medium dry cider
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 50g sultanas (that have been rehydrated in a little boiling water – then dried)
- 2 medium apples (peeled, cored and cut into small chunks)
- sugar glaze (3tbsp sugar dissolved in 2tbsp water)
1. Place the flour, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix together.
2. Place the yeast and sugar in a measuring jug and stir together until the fresh yeast is crumb like.
3. Add the cider to the measuring jug and stir.
4. Pour the melted butter and the wet mix into the dry mix and combine using your fingers adding a little more cider at this point if it is needed.
5. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead for a good 10 minutes (you will notice that the texture of the dough will change during this time, once you have finished kneading the dough should spring back after being pressed lightly).
6. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for about 1 ½ – 2 hours (until it has doubled in size).
7. Knock the air out of the dough and add the sultanas and apple pieces.
8. Knead the dough until the fruit is evenly distributed. Then cut the dough into 12 equal sized pieces. Shape the pieces into small balls and placing it in an oiled and floured tin leaving it to rise for the second time for another 1 ½ – 2 hours.
9. Place the dough in an oven that you have preheated to 190C fan and cook for 18-20 minutes. Turn the oven down slightly if you feel it is cooking too quickly and browning too much on the top.
10. Whilst the dough is cooking make a sugar glaze by placing 3tbsp of sugar in a saucepan with 2tbsp of water and heat until the sugar has dissolved and has a syrup-like consistency.
11. Once the buns are cooked remove from the oven, tip out onto a cooling rack. Using a pastry brush glaze the buns with the sugar glaze and leave to cool. (Best stored in an airtight tin).