After a nightmarish couple of calls on consecutive sundays, I was completely floored. The number of patients referred to the medical unit from casualty must have set a new record in our attendance books. Patients who were admitted have had to wait for hours before beds were available, to give you an idea how full and busy our wards have been lately.

To drive tiredness and frustration out of my system, I had to turn to baking. In my books, there is nothing more therapeutic than working on a stubborn sticky piece of bread dough until it is as smooth as a baby’s cheek. Kneading bread must have some secret pathway of releasing tiny spurts of endorphins.  

The bread making lifted my spirits but I did not feel quite sated after I was done with my first bread – a white sandwich loaf with hazelnut filling. So I went onto tackle a batch of cheese buns, adapted from the recipe that came along with my 14″x6″ Farmer’s loaf pan. The high flour to liquid ratio made them a tad dry for my liking. Think I’ll try it again with less flour, more milk and will probably swap cheddar for mozzarella cubes.

HAZELNUT LOAF

 

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups bread flour

1 cup lukewarm milk

2 tbs salted butter, melted

3 tbs pure honey

10 g instant yeast

100 g hazelnuts

3 tbs caster sugar

75 ml heavy cream

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tbs butter, for glazing

Method:

  • Sift flour into a large bowl and sprinkle yeast over it.
  • Stir milk, butter and honey in a jug until well blended.
  • Pour liquid over flour mixture and knead well for about 10 minutes until you have a smooth slightly sticky dough.
  • Cover bowl with clingfilm and set aside to prove for 1 hour.
  • Prepare filling by grinding hazelnuts to a fine powder.
  • Lightly roast ground nuts over a low flame until aromatic.
  • Add sugar, cream and cinnamon to nuts until it forms a thick but spreadable paste. Your dough should have doubled in volume by now. Punch it down a lightly floured surface.
  • Roll out dough into a large rectangle. Spread hazelnut paste into a thin layer over dough right uptill edges.
  • Roll up dough tightly to enclose hazel filling. Pinch seams closed and place in a greased loaf pan. Cover and set aside.
  • The second rise should last for about an hour after which the dough will have rise above the rim of the loaf pan.
  • Place another loaf pan with 2 cups boiling water in the oven preheated at 350 oF to create a steam environment inside.
  • After 1 hour, brush dome of loaf with melted butter and bake for 30 minutes or until bread sound hollow when tapped.
  • Turn out and cool on a wire rack before slicing.

CHEESE BUNS

Ingredients:

500 g bread flour

10g instant yeast

2 tbs unsalted butter

150 ml lukewarm milk

150 ml lukewarm water

150 g cheddar cheese

1 1/2 tsp salt

Method:

  • Sift flour into a large bowl. Add yeast and salt and mix.
  • Stir milk, water and butter in a jug until well blended.
  • Pour liquid over flour mixture and knead for about 10 minutes until it forms a smooth slightly sticky dough.
  • Add grated cheese and pulse until evenly distributed.
  • Cover bowl with clingfilm and set aside to prove for 1 hour.
  • After first rise, turn out dough on a floured surface and shape into 12 equal sized buns or weigh out equal portions.
  • Place each bun in the cup of a greased bun pan and leave to rise for another 30 minutes until doubled in size.
  • Glaze with milk and top with extra grated cheese if desired.
  • Bake buns at 400 oF in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
  • Cool slightly on a wire rack. Best when freshly baked, else reheat buns in the microwave for a minute before serving. 
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