More fun with buns, courtesy of Jane Mason's The Book of Buns: Over 50 Brilliant Bakes from Around the World! I fell in love with this book on first sight and in the short time I've owned it, maybe about a month, I've already baked from it three times, marked just about every recipe as a must-try and joined a Facebook group (including Jane herself) dedicated to baking their way through it. Win, win and win! These apple buns are the Facebook group's selection for the second half of September and they couldn't have made a better choice. The days are growing shorter, the weather cooler and few things speak to the coming of fall more than apples and their familiar spices that are all about warmth and comfort. These little buns have all that and more; perfection in a tiny package. It's a two-day recipe (one for the pre-dough), but the results so worth it that you'll probably find yourself making them again and again.
A couple of VERY important notes if you already own this book or plan on buying it, which I highly recommend you do: Thanks to a few sharp-eyed members of the Facebook group, Jane found out that this recipe has two errors that she wasn't aware of. One just leads to a bit of confusion but the other is a rather big one. First, if your book states that you should mix 25g of flour with 125g of water then let it rest overnight, please note that the 25g amount is incorrect. This won't give you anything resembling a dough. Instead, you end up with a watery slurry and this is NOT what you should have. The correct amount of flour should read 125g, not 25. The second error concerns the dough mixing instructions for day two. The incorrect version states that you should add the flour to the predough, etc., etc., etc., and let it rest, then further on states that you should add the predough and other ingredients to the rested flour, which you obviously can't do if you've already added it. The correction is that you add the predough, along with the egg, to the flour/sugar/yeast mixture after it's rested, not before.
Now while I did adjust for this second error, I went ahead with the incorrect measurements for the predough, even though it sounded a bit off to me. The dough was VERY soft and wet and while it was somewhat difficult to work with, the end result was still fabulous—pillowy soft and moist buns with a wonderfully fragrant apple filling.
- 125g all purpose flour
- 125g water
- 3-4 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small dice (I used Fuji apples)
- 50g brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch each of ground cloves, nutmeg and salt
- grated zest of one lemon
- juice from half a lemon (optional, this is my addition. I like things tart.)
- 50g butter
- 475g all-purpose flour
- 50g sugar
- 2.5g/1.25 tsp instant yeast
- 50g milk, heated to just below boiling and cooled to room temperature
- 150g water
- 10g/2.5 tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 50g butter
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. water
- Pinch each salt and sugar
- Ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top (optional)
- DAY 1: Make the predough by adding the flour and water into a small bowl and mixing together. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 12-24 hours.
- DAY 2: Place all of the apple filling ingredients into a medium saucepan. Gently simmer until the apples soften. If needed, add small amounts of water to prevent the apples from sticking. Once softened, remove from the heat, cover and let cool.
- To make the dough, place the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the sugar and yeast into the well, then pour in the milk and water. Close the well with flour, then cover the bowl and set aside for about 1 hour.
- After the rest period, sprinkle salt around the flour, then add the egg and predough and mix everything together until it comes together in a rough ball. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for about 10 minutes. Add the butter and continue kneading, working in the butter, for another 10 minutes until you have a soft, smooth dough. Return the dough ball to the bowl, cover and let rest for two hours.
- After the second rest period, turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 16 equal pieces. Cover with a dry towel and let rest for another 15 minutes.
- Lightly flour your work surface and your hands, and gently pat and stretch each piece into a circle about 1/4" thick, keeping the edges thinner than the middle. Place a spoonful of the apple filling into the center of the circle, then gather up the edges and pinch to seal.* Place the buns seam down on baking sheets lined with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Repeat for all, then cover with a dry towel and let rest for 45 minutes.
- While the buns are resting, preheat the oven to 425°.
- When ready to bake, beat the glaze ingredients (minus the ground cinnamon) together in a small bowl, then brush lightly onto the tops of the buns. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon if desired. (I also threw some sparkling sugar on a few.)
- Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown, rotating pans and switching racks at the midpoint.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
You can also substitute your own starter for the predough.
The goal is to try to get the filling into the center of the bun not near the top, which I was only successful with about half the time. Not, as you can see, with the ones I photographed, darn it all, since that would have meant poking through all of the buns until I found one that was perfect. (Kinda like how people poke holes in the bottom of a boxful of chocolates til they find their faves and then leave the rest oozing all over the place. And we know how much we hate THEM.) Jane suggests not stretching it over the apple so much that the top thins out. I finally got the hang of it by making the edges very thin and not bunching it up so much at the bottom. Takes a bit of practice but it's not like people will mock you for uneven buns. And your "mistakes" will still taste great.
Adapted from Jane Mason's The Book of Buns