Thursday, September 20, 2012

Whole Wheat Currant Buns

The inspiration for this recipe is the delicious "Morning Bun" at Baker & Spice bakery (6330 Southwest Capitol Highway  Portland, OR 97239).

The bakery's buns are whole wheat, loaded with currants and have a crisp crust and a soft and springy center.  I love the way they taste and I always feel satisfied and healthy after eating one.

I have to admit that although my attempt at making them was a success,  they're still not quite as good as the Baker & Spice version. 

Because I wanted to have the currant buns ready this morning for my family, I started the process the night before by making a "sponge" - a mixture of flour, water and a touch of yeast.

This morning, I added more ingredients to form a soft dough, shaped the buns and let them rise for another hour. I like the "sponge" method because I didn't have to use as much yeast and I think the end result tastes better and has that springy rustic bread texture that I love.

I also baked the buns in a very hot oven and added a splash of water to create steam which helps create that dense and crispy crust.

Using the "sponge" method gives the buns that desirable springy texture.

Whole Wheat Currant Buns
(Makes 1 dozen)

Sponge Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups water
1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast

At least 8 hours before you want to make the buns, combine the flour, water and yeast in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature.

The sponge after resting overnight.
Dough Ingredients:
Sponge mixture
1 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour
2/3 cup currants

In a small bowl combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Let this set for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl combine the sponge, yeast mixture and salt. Mix well. Add the all purpose flour and mix again. Add the whole wheat flour 1/2 a cup at a time until a soft dough forms. Add the currants and knead them into the dough. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic.

A smooth and elastic dough that's ready to be shaped into buns.

Divide the dough into 12 even sized pieces. Shape the pieces in to a smooth round and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and let them rise for 1 hour.

Keep the buns covered with plastic wrap while they rise.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and set aside a 1/2 cup of water.

When the buns are ready to bake, place them on the middle rack of the oven and underneath toss in the 1/2 cup of water. Immediately close the door and leave it closed during baking so that the steam doesn't escape.

Reduce the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until the buns are a dark golden brown color.

Warm currant buns in the morning are a treat.

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