CHAPTER 4

BOTANICAL SWEET BUNS

If bread is the staff of life, then buns are life’s little gems. The most wonderfully tender and flavorful bakes can be made from an enriched fermented dough. The addition of jams, curds, plump fruits, nuts, and spices take this dough to another level. I have chosen many of my favorite recipes, including my signature Cinnamon Square Bun and its award-winning sibling, the Ricky Sticky Bun.

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When making botanical buns, the core ingredients are the same as for botanical bread: flour, salt, botanical water, and botanical culture. A similar methodology is followed; therefore, a fully developed dough is required. The difference comes from the extra ingredients necessary to impart sweetness and softness to the buns: butter, sugar, milk, and eggs are generally the main additions.

Sugar is food for the yeast, but adding lots of sugar will inhibit yeast activity. Therefore, in a standard bun dough containing fresh or dried yeast, extra yeast is added to “speed up” the fermentation process. When making the same dough botanically, we cannot add any more yeast via the botanical water, as the dough would be too wet. For this reason, I use the botanical water at 100 percent of the total water required for the dough. This ensures maximum activity is present in the dough from the start. Warming the botanical water to 77°F to 86°F (25°C to 30°C) when making the dough will also help, as it encourages an active yeast population inside the dough.

Proving the botanical buns will take much longer compared to botanical bread. They can take up to 24 hours. I recommend you prove the dough pieces in lidded plastic containers to prevent drying out (skinning) of the dough during this extended fermentation time. Be patient, and the reward will be sweet and fruitful.

SICILIAN LEMON AND RAISIN BELGIAN BUNS

500 g (1 pound 11/2 ounces) strong white bread flour

5 g (1/6 ounce) salt

50 g (13/4 ounces) caster sugar

20 g (2/3 ounce) milk powder

80 g (23/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

200 g (7 ounces) Sicilian lemon and raisin botanical culture

235 g (81/4 ounces) Sicilian lemon and raisin botanical water

130 g (41/2 ounces) lemon curd

160 g (53/4 ounces) raisins (presoaked in water and drained)

Beaten egg, for brushing over the top

Poured fondant icing, for decoration

Glacé cherries, for decoration

Here, a spiral of sweet and tender botanical dough is rolled together with a generous smear of tangy lemon curd and plump, juicy raisins. Delicately baked to retain the softness, the bun is then topped with a silky-smooth white icing and finished with the iconic glacé cherry in the middle.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt, caster sugar, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder and prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the butter, botanical culture, and botanical water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 15 minutes.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle.

7. Place into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

8. Remove the dough from the container, lightly stretch it, and fold it into thirds.

9. Place the dough back into the container for another 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough from the container and repeat the stretch and fold.

11. Place the dough back into the container for another 30 minutes.

12. Remove the dough from the container and, using a rolling pin, roll it into a 15 x 10-inch (40 x 25.5 cm) rectangle. Rotate the dough so it is positioned with the 15-inch (40 cm) edge closest to you.

13. Spread the lemon curd over the top of the dough, leaving the edge closest to you bare. You can use more or less of the lemon curd if you prefer.

14. Sprinkle the raisins evenly onto the lemon curd and lightly press in to keep them in place as you roll up the dough.

15. Lightly wet the edge that does not have the curd on it.

16. From the edge furthest away from you, start to roll up the dough into a 15-inch (40 cm)-long cylindrical shape of uniform thickness.

17. Mark the top every 11/2 inches (4 cm) with a knife.

18. Using a long, sharp serrated knife, gently cut the dough along these marks into 10 pieces. Use a sawing motion to prevent squashing the rolled dough.

19. Place each portion (spiral facing upward) on a baking paper–lined baking tray. Make sure to leave enough space around each one for expansion while proving and baking, so that when fully baked, the buns are not fused together. This may require two trays.

20. Place the tray into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending upon the activity of the ferment.

21. When fully proved, remove the tray from the storage box, gently brush the tops of the buns with beaten eggs, and bake at 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7) for approximately 10 to 12 minutes.

22. Remove the tray from the oven and place on a cooling rack. The buns should be golden brown and will soften as they cool.

23. When the buns are cool, spread the poured fontant icing on top of each bun. Finish by placing the customary glacé cherry in the center.

Yield: 10 buns

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SICILIAN LEMON AND RAISIN FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I use unwaxed organic lemons (Sicilian, if available) and good-quality, ready-to-eat raisins. Cut the lemons into quarters, place them and the raisins into a fermenting jar, cover the ingredients with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the raisins.

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Add the zest of one lemon to the dough for extra zing.

TIP:

If you have the large Yorkshire pudding trays (with four indentations per tray), you can prove and bake the Belgian buns in these rather than on a flat tray. This ensures each bun will be the same diameter, plus the buns will be taller than those baked directly on a flat tray.

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The fermenting liquid also makes a lovely refreshing drink; combine equal parts lemon and raisin botanical water and chilled sparkling water and enjoy.

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AWARD-WINNING CINNAMON SQUARE BUNS

DOUGH:

250 g (83/4 ounces) strong white bread flour

25 g (1 ounce) caster sugar

Pinch salt

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

100 g (31/2 ounces) cinnamon and raisin botanical culture

120 g (41/4 ounces) cinnamon and raisin botanical water

25 g (1 ounce) softened unsalted butter

The Cinnamon Square Bun is the signature product of my bakery. It’s a sweet fermented dough rolled up with a buttery sweet cinnamon filling and topped with a divine cream cheese frosting. This bun is so good that it has won four national awards to date.

Although cinnamon buns are lovely to eat at room temperature, I always recommend eating them warm, either soon after exiting the oven or reheated in the microwave to keep them soft and gooey.

In this botanical version, I ferment raisins with cinnamon sticks. If you enjoy eating raisins, then you could sprinkle some whole ones over the filling before you roll up the dough (step 12).

You will need a 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the caster sugar, salt, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder to prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the botanical culture, botanical water, and tap water, and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until the dough becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm as you knead. When the butter is added in step 6, it will soften.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back in the plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while, but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough on the work surface and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.

8. Form the dough into a cylindrical shape.

9. Place into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough from the container and gently shape it into a rectangle.

11. Place the dough back in the container for another 30 minutes.

12. Remove the dough from the container and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8 x 14-inch (20 x 35.5 cm) rectangle. Rotate the dough so it is positioned with the 8-inch (20 cm) edge closest to you.

13. Using a pallet knife, also called an offset spatula, spread the Cinnamon Bun Filling over the dough, leaving the edge closest to you free from any filling.

14. Press flat the edge closest to you and lightly spray with water.

15. Starting from the end furthest from you, roll up the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm)-long cylindrical shape of uniform thickness.

16. Using a long, sharp serrated knife, cut four 2-inch (5 cm) buns. Use a sawing motion to prevent squashing the rolled dough pieces.

17. Place the buns, swirl-side up, into a baking paper–lined 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan.

18. Place the baking pan into a large, lidded plastic storage box to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

19. When fully proved, remove from the storage box and bake in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for 8 to 12 minutes.

20. Remove the tray from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

21. Approximately 15 to 20 minutes after removing the buns from the oven, spread the Cream Cheese Frosting over the buns.

22. The frosting should soften a little and run into the buns, but at the same time, leave a nice layer on top.

23. They are now ready to eat—warm and gooey!

Yield: 4 buns

CINNAMON BUN FILLING:

100 g (31/2 ounces) caster sugar

50 g (13/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

10 g (1/3 ounce) ground cinnamon

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl with a spoon until thoroughly mixed together.

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CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

50 g (13/4 ounces) cream cheese

125 g (41/3 ounces) icing sugar

15 g (1/2 ounce) softened unsalted butter

Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl with a spoon until thoroughly mixed together. Do not overmix, as the frosting will soften too much.

CINNAMON AND RAISIN FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I use a few cinnamon sticks and good-quality, ready-to-eat raisins. Place the cinnamon sticks and the raisins into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the raisins.

TIP:

You can freeze the whole tray with the topping on. Make sure they are cut before freezing and then you can take one out at a time to enjoy.

ORANGE, LEMON, AND CURRANTS CHELSEA BUNS

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DOUGH:

250 g (83/4 ounces) strong white bread flour

25 g (1 ounce) caster sugar

3 g (pinch) salt

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

10 g (1/3 ounce) egg yolk (at room temperature)

120 g (41/4 ounces) botanical orange, lemon, and currant culture

110 g (4 ounces) botanical orange, lemon, and currant water

35 g (11/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

Beaten egg, for bushing over the top

Demerara sugar, for decoration

CHELSEA BUN FILLING:

100 g (31/2 ounces) demerara sugar

50 g (13/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

Combine both ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon until thoroughly mixed together.

A long time classic bun, these are commonplace in most traditional bakeries in England. This sweet fermented bun is rolled into a spiral containing a swirling ribbon of rich, buttery paste with juicy currants and candied citrus peels. The filling also imparts a chewy toffee-like base to the bun as it caramelizes while baking.

You will need a 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the caster sugar, salt, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder to prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the egg yolk, botanical culture, and botanical water, and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on your work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm as you knead. When the butter is added in step 6, the dough will soften.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back in the plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough on your work surface and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.

8. Form the dough into a cylindrical shape.

9. Place into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 50 minutes.

10. Remove the dough from the container and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8 x 14-inch (20 x 35.5 cm) rectangle.

11. Rotate the dough so it is positioned with the 8-inch (20 cm) edge closest to you.

12. Using a pallet knife, spread the Chelsea Bun Filling over the dough, leaving the edge closest to you free from any filling.

13. Sprinkle the Chelsea Bun Dried Fruits Mixture over the top and lightly press into the Chelsea Bun Filling.

14. Press the edge closest to you flat and lightly spray with water.

15. Starting from the end furthest from you, roll the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm)-long cylindrical shape of uniform thickness.

16. Using a long, sharp serrated knife, cut four 2-inch (5 cm) buns. Use a sawing motion to prevent squashing the rolled dough pieces.

17. Place the buns, swirl-side up, into a baking paper–lined 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan.

18. Place the baking pan into a large, lidded plastic storage box to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

19. When fully proved, remove the baking pan from the storage box, brush the top of each bun with beaten egg, place the pan into the preheated oven, and bake at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for 8 to 12 minutes. Look down between the buns to make sure they are not raw at the bottom.

20. Remove the buns from your oven and immediately sprinkle with the demerara sugar.

21. Place on a cooling rack.

Yield: 4 buns

CHELSEA BUN DRIED FRUITS MIXTURE:

100 g (31/2 ounces) currants, presoaked and drained

15 g (1/2 ounce) freshly grated orange and lemon peel

Combine the currants and mixed peel in a small bowl until thoroughly mixed together.

ORANGE, LEMON, AND CURRANTS FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I chop the oranges and lemons into quarters and add good-quality, dried currants. Place the oranges, lemons, and currants into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within all the ingredients.

STRAWBERRY AND MADAGASCAR VANILLA SWISS FINGER BUNS

355 g (121/2 ounces) strong white bread flour

35 g (11/4 ounces) caster sugar

4 g (2 pinches) salt

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

10 g (1/3 ounce) egg yolk (at room temperature)

160 g (53/4 ounces) botanical strawberry and Madagascar vanilla culture

160 g (53/4 ounces) botanical strawberry and Madagascar vanilla water

50 g (13/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

Poured fondant icing, for decoration

Fillings, such as jams, curds, ganache, or whipped fresh cream (optional)

Another classic sweet fermented bun, these finger-shaped buns are simply topped with a poured fondant icing. These are simple but totally irresistible once you have made them. The beauty with these buns is that you can get really carried away by adding fillings—such as freshly whipped cream, jams, curds, or ganache—and then toppings—including chocolate fudge, nuts, sprinkles—or even trying a feathering decoration with your icing. They just get even more irresistible!

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the caster sugar, salt, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder and prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the egg yolk, botanical culture, and botanical water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm as you knead. When the butter is added in step 6, the dough will soften.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back in your plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough on the work surface and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.

8. Divide the dough into ten 75 g (23/4 ounce) pieces and gently shape them into round balls.

9. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

11. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

12. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

13. Place back into the container and leave for another 10 minutes.

14. Remove the dough balls from the container and elongate by rolling each piece under your hand into a cylindrical shape approximately 4 inches (10 cm) long.

15. Place the cylinders on a baking paper–lined baking tray. Make sure to leave enough space around each one for expansion while proving and baking, so that when fully baked, the buns are not fused together. This may require two trays.

16. Place the tray into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

17. When fully proved, remove the tray from the storage box and bake at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for 8 to 12 minutes. The buns will be golden brown and will soften as they cool down.

18. Remove the tray from your oven and place on a cooling rack.

19. When cool, dip the top of each bun in the poured fondant icing (which can be colored and flavored if preferred).

20. When the icing is set, you can get creative by gently cutting each bun horizontally in half and then adding your chosen filling(s).

Yield: 10 buns

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STRAWBERRY AND MADAGASCAR VANILLA FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I chop fresh organic strawberries in half and add a couple of Madagascar vanilla pods cut into thirds. Place the strawberries and Madagascar vanilla pods into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars in the strawberries.

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CURRANTS, SULTANAS, CINNAMON, CLOVE, AND NUTMEG HOT CROSS BUNS

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DOUGH:

280 g (10 ounces) strong white bread flour

3.5 g (2 pinches) salt

35 g (11/4 ounces) caster sugar

5 g (1/6 ounce) ground cinnamon

5 g (1/6 ounce) ground mixed spice

2.5 g (pinch) ground nutmeg

10 g (1/3 ounce) egg yolk (at room temperature)

140 g (5 ounces) currants, sultanas, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg botanical culture

130 g (41/2 ounces) currants, sultanas, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg botanical water

55 g (2 ounces) softened unsalted butter

53 g (2 ounces) currants (washed and drained)

53 g (2 ounces) sultanas (washed and drained)

Beaten egg, for brushing over the top

This lightly spiced and fruited sweet bun topped with a cross is a must-bake bun for the Easter holiday. The cross is said to let the devil out and expel bad spirits, so don’t forget to add it before they’re baked! You will be using freshly ground spices becasue these impart a more authentic and rounded flavor. Use the plumpest fruits, as these will add a wonderful softness to every bite. I recommend cutting the baked buns in half and toasting them before applying generous amounts of creamy butter on each half.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt, caster sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice, and nutmeg in separate piles on top.

2. Add the egg yolk, the botanical culture, and the botanical water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.

4. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

5. Place the dough back in your plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

6. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough on the work surface and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.

7. Flatten the dough, sprinkle a layer of currants and sultanas over the surface, roll up the dough, and gently knead to start evenly distributing the fruits within the dough, trying not to damage the fruit too much as the sugar within them will leach out into the dough and cause the buns to bake very dark.

8. Divide the dough into nine 85 g (3 ounce) pieces and gently shape them into round balls.

9. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

11. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

12. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

13. Place back into the container for another 10 minutes.

14. Remove the dough balls from the container, once again gently reshape, and then place them on a baking paper–lined baking tray. You can leave space around each one to expand while proving and baking in the oven without touching, or you can place them a little closer so they actually do touch, which will give a softer bake to the sides due to sticking together. If possible, place them three by three, as this will make piping the Crossing Mixture on top easier.

15. Place the tray into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

16. While proving, make the Crossing Mixture.

17. When fully proved, remove the tray from the storage box and gently brush the top of each dough ball with beaten egg.

18. Pipe the Crossing Mixture over the buns. Try piping in straight lines. For example, if the buns are laid out three by three in the tray, pipe three horizontal lines and then pipe three vertical lines (only stopping when you get to the end of each line). The lines should be thin as they will flow a little once piped.

19. Place the tray into a preheated oven and bake at 425°F (220°C, or gas mark 7) for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

20. Remove the tray from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Yield: 9 buns

CURRANTS, SULTANAS, CINNAMON, CLOVE, AND NUTMEG FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I use good-quality plump currants and sultanas, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and whole nutmeg. Place the currants, sultanas, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and whole nutmeg into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the currants and sultanas. Don’t add too much spice to start with. Test the flavor after a few days and if not intense enough, add some more of one or all the spices.

TIP:

Add the grated zest of one orange and one lemon to give the buns a citrus note.

TIP:

Cut a small hole, 1/4 inch (6 mm) maximum, in the bottom corner of a strong sandwich bag to use as an alternative to a piping bag. Start with a very small hole and practice piping straight lines on the work surface (you can scrape this back into the bag and re-pipe). You can always increase the size of the hole if it is too small.

CROSSING MIXTURE:

150 g (51/4 ounces) strong white bread flour

30 g (1 ounce) white vegetable shortening

150 g (51/4 ounces) tap water (tepid)

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a medium plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the white vegetable shortening on top.

2. Using your fingers, rub the vegetable shortening into the flour until no lumps can be seen.

3. Add the tap water and mix with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter is formed.

4. Place into a plastic piping bag and cut a 1/4-inch (6 mm) hole in the bottom corner.

CURRANTS, SULTANAS, AND EARL GREY TEA CAKES

355 g (121/2 ounces) strong white bread flour

3.5 g (2 pinches) salt

45 g (11/2 ounces) caster sugar

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

150 g (51/4 ounces) currants, sultanas, and Earl Grey tea botanical culture

170 g (6 ounces) currants, sultanas, and Earl Grey tea botanical water

70 g (21/2 ounces) softened unsalted butter

100 g (31/2 ounces) currants (washed and drained)

100 g (31/2 ounces) sultanas (washed and drained)

20 g (2/3 ounce) freshly grated orange and lemon peel

Beaten egg, for brushing over the top (optional)

A pot of tea and a toasted tea cake makes for a lovely start to the day. These cakes are made from a rich, buttery dough and packed with dried fruits. When baked, the tea cakes are best served cut in half, toasted, and smothered in butter and a dollop of your favorite jam. In this recipe, I use Earl Grey loose leaf tea in the botanical fermentation, but you could replace this with any other loose-leaf tea to personalize your own version. There are some lovely fruited and floral loose-leaf tea blends available to impart wonderful flavors and aromas to the ferment.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt, caster sugar, and milk powder in piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder and prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the botanical culture, botanical water, and tap water, and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean. The dough will feel firm at this stage but will soften when the butter is added.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back into your plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough on the work surface and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.

8. Flatten the dough, sprinkle a layer of currants, sultanas, and grated orange and lemon peel over the surface, roll up the dough, and gently knead to start evenly distributing them throughout the dough, trying not to damage the dried fruit too much, as the sugar within them will leach out into the dough and cause the tea cakes to bake very dark.

9. Divide the dough into eight 125 g (41/3 ounce) pieces and gently shape them into round balls.

10. Place into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

11. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

12. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

13. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

14. Place back into the container for another 10 minutes.

15. Remove the dough balls from the container and, using a rolling pin, gently roll them into approximately 5-inch (12.5 cm) disks.

16. Place each disk on a baking paper–lined baking tray. Make sure to leave enough space around each one for expansion while proving and baking, so that when fully baked, the buns are not fused together. This may require two trays.

17. Place the tray(s) into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

18. When fully proved, remove the tray(s) from the storage box. Before baking, as an option, brush the top surface with beaten egg, to impart a darker color to the top surface. Place into the oven and bake at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for 12 to 15 minutes until golden brown.

19. Remove the tray from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Yield: 8 tea cakes

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CURRANTS, SULTANAS, AND EARL GREY TEA FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I use good-quality currants and sultanas and Earl Grey tea leaves. Place the currants, sultanas, and Earl Grey tea leaves into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the currants and sultanas. The fermenting liquid also makes a lovely refreshing drink; combine half currants, sultanas, and Earl Grey tea botanical water and half chilled sparkling water.

TIP:

When using a rolling pin on the dough, always roll from the middle outward/middle backward, give a quarter turn, and then roll again middle outward/middle backward. Keep this going and the dough will stretch neater while you achieve the desired disk shape.

TIP:

The fermenting liquid also makes a refreshing drink; combine equal parts currants, sultanas, and Earl Grey tea botanical water and chilled sparkling water, and enjoy!

APPLE AND CLOVE BUNS

This is an ideal bake for those who grow their own apples. In this recipe, you can use your homegrown apples in the botanical ferment and for making the apple filling. A soft, fluffy sweet bun dough is filled with apple before proving and baking. When baked, the top is glazed to highlight the fresh apple filling. This is one of those simple products that is so divine when eaten, maybe with a nice pot of English breakfast tea too.

In addition to the Apple and Clove Buns, you will also need to make the Apple Filling recipe (see below). You could make this after step 7 in the recipe while waiting for the dough to bulk ferment. Alternatively, you could use a good-quality, store-bought pie filling.

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DOUGH:

355 g (121/2 ounces) strong white bread flour

4 g (2 pinches) salt

35 g (11/4 ounces) caster sugar

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

50 g (13/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

10 g (1/3 ounce) egg yolk (at room temperature)

160 g (53/4 ounces) apple and clove botanical culture

160 g (53/4 ounces) apple and clove botanical water

Apricot jam, heated, for brushing on top

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt, caster sugar, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder to prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the softened butter, egg yolk, botanical culture, and botanical water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm but slightly sticky for the first few minutes of the kneading process.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Divide the dough into ten 75 g (23/4 ounce) pieces and gently shape into ball shapes.

7. Place into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

8. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

9. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

11. Place back into the container for another 10 minutes.

12. Remove the dough balls from the container and, using a piece of doweling, insert the stick down through the top center of each one and wiggle it to make a cavity big enough to fill with a dollop of your Apple Filling.

13. Place each piece on a baking paper–lined baking tray. Make sure to leave enough space around each one for expansion while proving and baking, so that when fully baked, the buns are not fused together. This may require two trays.

14. Fill each dough piece with a dollop of Apple Filling.

15. Place the tray into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

16. When nearly fully proved, press back in the escaping Apple Filling.

17. Remove the tray from the storage box and bake in an oven preheated to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for 10 to 12 minutes. The buns will be golden brown and will soften as they cool.

18. Remove the tray from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

19. When cool, brush the top of each bun with apricot jam. This will give a nice shine to the baked buns and also keep the Apple Filling moist and soft to eat.

Yield: 10 buns

APPLE AND CLOVE FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I chop homegrown apples into quarters (or eighths if large) and use whole cloves. Place the chopped apple pieces and cloves into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the apples. The fermenting liquid also makes a lovely refreshing drink: combine half apple and clove botanical water and half chilled sparkling water.

TIP:

Have a plastic bowl scraper handy when working with the soft dough on the table. You will find this useful to gather up the dough as you are working with it, until the dough becomes more bound together. You will find it ideal for scraping your hands clean too!

APPLE FILLING:

I like to use Bramley apples for this recipe, but you can replace them with your favorite variety or your own homegrown apples. You can also adjust the sugar quantity to change the sweetness if using different apples. You could also mix in some spices, such as ground cloves or cinnamon.

Juice of 1 large lemon

70 g (21/2 ounces) tap water

255 g (9 ounces) caster sugar

4 large Bramley apples

Cornstarch (10 percent of the weight of the drained liquid once the apples have been cooked.)

1. Place the lemon juice, water, and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a boil and then a simmer.

2. While the saucepan is heating, start peeling and slicing the apples. Add the apples immediately to the hot liquid to prevent them from browning.

3. Gently stir the apples as they cook because some may not be completely submerged in the liquid.

4. Cook until the slices are softened but still slightly crisp.

5. Remove from the heat and drain—but don’t throw out—the liquid.

6. Gently pour the apples onto a flat tray to cool.

7. Weigh the drained liquid. Place 90 percent of it back into the pan.

8. Thoroughly mix the remaining 10 percent of liquid with the same weight of cornstarch until there are no lumps.

9. Pour the liquid cornstarch mixture into the liquid from the cooked apples and bring to a boil, stirring continuously with a whisk to produce a smooth, thick sauce.

10. Place the cooked apples into a bowl, pour the thickened cooked apple liquid over them, and gently fold through until evenly dispersed.

11. Cover the bowl and leave to cool.

12. When cool, store in the refrigerator until needed. This will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.

ORANGE AND MADAGASCAR VANILLA PANETTONE

310 g (11 ounces) strong white bread flour

2 g (pinch) salt

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

40 g (11/3 ounces) caster sugar

50 g (13/4 ounces) egg yolk (at room temperature)

Vanilla extract (to taste)

100 g (31/2 ounces) orange and Madagascar vanilla botanical culture

130 g (41/2 ounces) orange and Madagascar vanilla botanical water

130 g (41/2 ounces) softened unsalted butter

150 g (51/4 ounces) sultanas (washed and drained)

20 g (2/3 ounce) grated orange peel

White vegetable shortening, for greasing ramekins (optional)

Beaten egg, for brushing over the top

Sliced almonds, for decoration

This recipe makes eight fresh, light, and airy citrus panettone, which are unbelievably moist too. These little beauties are far more enjoyable to eat compared to the long-life ones you find in the extravagant tins and boxes. You will need eight paper cases or ramekins about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter. The dough will start off as a slightly firm but sticky dough and then turn to a silky-smooth soft dough once the butter has been fully incorporated.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt, milk powder, and caster sugar in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder and prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, botanical culture, and botanical water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until the dough becomes smooth. Although the dough is slightly firm, it will feel sticky too, due to the sugar.

5. Gently shape the dough into a round ball.

6. Place into a plastic bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean, plastic shower cap, and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

7. Remove the cover from the bowl, add the softened butter, and start to combine the dough and butter together. It will take a while but persevere as it will eventually get there.

8. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the very soft dough on a work surface and knead, using the slap-and-fold method (see here), until it feels smooth and elastic.

9. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed. It should feel soft but silky smooth.

10. Gently shape the dough into a round ball.

11. Place into a plastic bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a clean, plastic shower cap, and leave to bulk ferment for another 30 minutes.

12. Add the sultanas and grated orange peel to the dough in the plastic bowl after its second 30-minute bulk fermentation.

13. Gently knead the ingredients into the dough until thoroughly blended in.

14. Divide the dough into eight 110 g (4 ounce) pieces and gently shape them into round balls.

15. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container to rest for 20 minutes.

16. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

17. Place into your panettone paper cases or lightly greased ramekins of approximately 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter with the smooth side of the dough facing up.

18. Place the cases or ramekins onto a baking tray and into a large, lidded plastic storage box and leave to fully prove for at least 6 hours or more. They should expand two to three times their original size.

19. When fully proved, gently brush the top of each ball of dough with beaten eggs and sprinkle on a few sliced almonds.

20. Place the tray in the preheated oven and bake at 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) until a rich golden-brown color, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

21. Remove the baked panettone from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

Yield: 8 small panettone

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ORANGE AND MADAGASCAR VANILLA FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I chop navel oranges into quarters and add a couple of Madagascar vanilla pods cut into thirds. Place the oranges and vanilla pods into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the oranges. The fermenting liquid also makes a lovely refreshing drink; combine half orange and Madagascar vanilla botanical water and half chilled sparkling water.

CHOCOLATE ORANGE BRIOCHE

325 g (111/2 ounces) strong white bread flour

4 g (2 pinches) salt

32 g (1 ounce) caster sugar

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

40 g (11/3 ounces) egg yolk (at room temperature)

150 g (51/4 ounces) navel orange botanical culture

135 g (43/4 ounces) navel orange botanical water

120 g (41/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

100 g (31/2 ounces) dark chocolate chips (optional)

Brioche is a traditional sweet fermented dough that is extremely rich in butter and eggs, producing a silky-smooth melt-in-the-mouth sensation. This recipe has chocolate chips included to complement the orange flavor. I recommend using Belgian dark chocolate, as this delivers the richest chocolate taste.

This recipe requires two small bread pans, lined with baking paper.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt, caster sugar, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder and prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the egg yolk, botanical culture, and botanical water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm but slightly sticky as you knead. After the butter is added, the dough will soften.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back in your plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the very soft dough on a work surface and knead, using the slap-and-fold method (see here), until it feels smooth and elastic. It may take a while, but persevere as it will eventually get there. For a second time, use the windowpane test to check if the dough is fully developed.

8. Flatten the dough, sprinkle a layer of chocolate chips over the surface, roll up the dough, and gently knead to evenly distribute the chocolate within the dough. Try not to be too heavy-handed, as it will cause the dough to stain a gray color from the chocolate.

9. Divide the dough into two 450 g (1 pound) pieces and gently shape them into round balls. (If you do not choose to add chocolate chips, the dough pieces will weigh 400 g [14 ounces] each.)

10. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 45 minutes.

11. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

12. Place back into the container for another 45 minutes.

13. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

14. Place back into the container for another 10 minutes.

15. Remove the dough balls from the container and form them into cylindrical shapes the length of the loaf pan being used. Line the pans with baking paper; otherwise, the chocolate will burn against the inside of the pan.

16. Place the loaf pans into a large, lidded plastic storage box to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

17. When fully proved, remove the pans from the storage box, place into the preheaetd oven, and bake at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 7) for approximately 20 minutes. The brioche loaves should be dark brown on top and golden on the sides.

18. Allow the brioche to cool in the pans for 30 minutes before removing.

Yield: 2 small brioche loaves

NAVEL ORANGE FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I chop navel oranges into quarters. Place the orange quarters into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the oranges.

TIP:

Have a plastic bowl scraper handy when working with the soft dough on the table. You will find this useful to gather up the dough as you are working with it, until the dough becomes more bound together. You will find it ideal for scraping your hands clean too!

TIP:

The fermenting liquid also makes a lovely refreshing drink; combine equal parts navel orange botanical water and chilled sparkling water, and enjoy.

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FIG AND HAZELNUT STAR

325 g (111/2 ounces) strong white bread flour

4 g (2 pinches) salt

32 g (1 ounce) caster sugar

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

40 g (11/3 ounces) egg yolk (at room temperature)

150 g (51/4 ounces) fig and hazelnut botanical culture

135 g (43/4 ounces) fig and hazelnut botanical water

120 g (41/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

Flour, for dusting

Large jar of chocolate hazelnut spread (place jar in hot water to gently warm if too hard to spread)

Beaten eggs, for brushing over the top

This breakfast centerpiece is based on a brioche-style dough, which is extremely rich in butter and eggs, and then layered with copious amounts of chocolate hazelnut spread. You will be able to wow your friends and family with this heavenly beauty. It is great fun to make; try to avoid getting covered in chocolate hazelnut spread or licking your fingers when you do. If eaten while still hot, it is extremely difficult not to return for a second helping. My advice is … double the recipe and make two!

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the salt, caster sugar, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder and prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the egg yolk, botanical culture, and botanical water and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm but slightly sticky as you knead. After the butter is added, the dough will soften.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back into the plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the very soft dough on the work surface and knead, using the slap-and-fold method (see here), until it feels smooth and elastic. This may take a while. For a second time, use the windowpane test to check if the dough is fully developed.

8. Divide the dough into three 265 g (91/3 ounce) pieces and gently shape them into round balls.

9. Place the dough balls into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 45 minutes.

10. Remove the dough balls from the container and gently reshape.

11. Place back into the container for another 45 minutes.

12. Remove the dough balls from the container and once again gently reshape.

13. Place back into the container for another 10 minutes.

14. Remove the dough balls from the container and, using a rolling pin, shape the dough to form three 10-inch (25.5 cm) round disks. You will need to lightly dust the table and dough with flour to prevent it from sticking.

15. Place one disk on a baking paper–lined baking tray and spread on a layer of chocolate hazelnut spread, leaving the outer edge free from any topping.

16. Carefully place a second disk over the top, trying to keep the round shape.

17. Spread more chocolate hazelnut spread over this second disk of dough.

18. Finally, place the remaining disk on top and gently form the sides into a neat round shape.

19. Carefully, using the back of a long knife, mark the top surface into 16 equal portions (do not cut through the layers).

20. Place the tray into a large, lidded plastic storage box to prove until half proved, approximately 2 to 3 hours.

21. Remove the tray from the storage box and, using a pizza wheel, cut along all the 16 lines, starting from the outer edge and finishing 2 inches (5 cm) from the middle.

22. Hold the ends of two strips of dough (next to each other) and twist them simultaneously toward each other three times. Pinch the ends together to form a point. Repeat this all the way around to form an eight-pointed star.

23. Place back into to the storage box to continue proving, approximately another 2 to 3 hours.

24. When fully proved, remove the tray from the storage box, brush the top surface with beaten egg, place into the preheated oven, and bake at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for approximately 12 to 15 minutes. The brioche should be golden brown on top and lightly golden on the sides. Try not to overbake.

25. Once baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool a little on the tray before devouring!

Yield: 1 star

FIG AND HAZELNUT FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I use fresh figs cut in half or quarters (depending on the size) and whole hazelnuts. Place the cut figs and hazelnuts into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the figs.

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TIP:

Have a plastic bowl scraper at hand when working with the soft buttery dough on the table. You will find this useful to gather up the dough as you are working with it, until the dough becomes more bound together. You will also find it ideal for scraping your hands clean too!

ORANGE, LEMON, LICORICE STICK, AND STREGA LIQUEUR SAVARIN AND RUM BABA

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DOUGH:

400 g (14 ounces) strong white bread flour

40 g (11/3 ounces) caster sugar

120 g (41/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

85 g (3 ounces) egg yolk (at room temperature)

200 g (7 ounces) orange, lemon and licorice stick botanical culture

290 g (101/4 ounces) orange, lemon and licorice stick botanical water

White vegetable shortening, for greasing pans

Apricot jam, for glazing

This recipe creates a rich, buttery, soft dough. Once baked, each piece is soaked—more like drenched—in a sugar syrup, creating a distinctive “refreshing” eating experience. In this recipe, I have incorporated the popular Italian liqueur Strega. This liqueur has a licorice flavor and aroma, which makes a pleasant addition to Italian pastries and desserts.

You can replace the Strega with other liqueurs if preferred: Grand Marnier or Limoncello, for example. Alternatively, replace the alcohol with a couple of licorice or cinnamon sticks instead.

You will need some rum baba or savarin cake pans to bake the batter in. Rum babas and savarins differ visually by the shape of the pan they are baked in. Rum babas are shaped like a champagne cork; therefore, it is possible to use cupcake pans as an alternative to rum baba pans. However, savarins are shaped like a ring donut or a small Bundt cake. Whichever pans you use, make sure they are well greased before adding the batter.

After the savarins or rum babas soak in a syrup, they are glazed with apricot jam. This helps keep them moist inside, and the imparted shine makes them more attractive. Once glazed, serve the rum babas as they are. The savarins can be decorated with some whipped cream and fresh berries in the middle.

1. Weigh the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the sugar. You can carry out all the mixing in a stand mixer with a beater attachment.

2. Add the softened butter and mix until a crumble is formed.

3. Add the egg yolk, botanical culture, and half of the botanical water and mix until a lump-free paste is formed. Scrape down the bowl.

4. Stream in the remaining half of the botanical water, scrape down the bowl, and mix for a couple of minutes to produce a smooth batter.

5. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean, plastic shower cap and leave for an hour.

6. The batter is now ready for filling your baking pans. I find it much easier to use a piping bag to fill my baking pans. The cupcake pans contain 60 g (2 ounces) and the 41/4-inch (11.5 cm) Bundt cake pans contain 110 g (4 ounces). Whatever pan size you use, fill them three-quarters full of the batter.

7. Place the baking pans into a large, lidded plastic storage box to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment. The batter should expand to protrude to the top of the pans.

8. When fully proved, remove the pans from the storage box, place into the preheated oven, and bake at 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) for approximately 12 to 15 minutes for the cupcake-size pans and 15 to 18 minutes for the larger Bundt cake–size pans. The rum babas or savarins should be golden brown and bulbous.

9. Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes before carefully removing from the pans.

10. When cool, place the baked rum babas or savarins, one at a time, in the bowl of Strega Liqueur Syrup or Spiced Savarin/Rum Baba Syrup and turn to absorb the liquid. Approximately a minute is generally enough soaking time. As you remove each one, let the excess syrup run back into the bowl. Place on a cooling rack to allow any further syrup to run off.

11. Boil some apricot jam in a saucepan and generously brush each rum baba or savarin with the jam. If the jam is thick, add some water to bring it to a consistency that does not retain the brush marks.

Yield: Will vary depending upon the size of the pans used

ORANGE, LEMON, AND LICORICE STICK FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I chop oranges and lemons into quarters and break the licorice sticks in half or thirds, depending on the length of them. Place the orange and lemon quarters and licorice sticks into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the oranges and lemons.

TIP:

Make the syrup the day before to allow the ingredients to infuse, generating increased flavor in the syrup.

TIP:

The fermenting liquid also makes a refreshing drink; combine equal parts orange, lemon, and licorice stick botanical water and chilled sparkling water, and enjoy.

STREGA LIQUEUR SYRUP:

1250 g (2 pounds 12 ounces) tap water

500 g (1 pound 11/2 ounces) caster sugar

85 g (3 ounces) Strega liqueur

1. In a large saucepan, boil together the tap water and sugar for a few minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

3. Add the Strega and stir through. Taste and add more if preferred.

SPICED SAVARIN/RUM BABA SYRUP:

1250 g (2 pounds 12 ounces) tap water

500 g (1 pound 11/2 ounces) caster sugar

1 large orange, zest and juice

1 large lemon, zest and juice

1 bay leaf

2 cinnamon sticks

1. In a large saucepan, boil together all the ingredients for a few minutes.

2. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

AWARD-WINNING PECAN AND RAISIN RICKY STICKY BUNS

These awesome sticky buns evolved from our award-winning Cinnamon Square Buns and are named after my hometown of Rickmansworth, England. This product has become a real winner, literally! It won the specialty category at the World Bread Awards. These sweet fermented buns are rolled with a cinnamon filling and finished with a sticky caramelized pecan topping: the Ricky Sticky Goo.

Although these buns are lovely to eat at room temperature, I recommend eating them warm, either soon after they exit the oven or reheated in the microwave so they stay all soft and gooey.

This recipe requires a 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the caster sugar, salt, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder to prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the botanical culture, botanical water, and tap water, and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on your work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm as you knead. When the butter is added, it will then become soft.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back into the plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough on a dry work surface and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.

8. Form the dough into a cylindrical shape.

9. Place the dough into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough from the container and gently reshape it into a rectangle.

11. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

12. Remove the dough from the container and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8 x 14-inch (20 x 35.5 cm) rectangle.

13. Rotate the dough so the 8-inch (20 cm) edge is closest to you.

14. Using a pallet knife, spread the Ricky Sticky Bun Filling over the dough, leaving the edge closest to you free from any filling.

15. Press flat the edge closest to you and lightly spray with water.

16. Starting from the end furthest from you, roll the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm)-long cylindrical shape of uniform thickness.

17. Using a long, sharp serrated knife, cut four 2-inch (5 cm) buns. Use a sawing motion to prevent squashing the rolled dough pieces.

18. Place the buns, swirl-side up, into a baking paper–lined 9-inch (23 cm) square baking pan.

19. Place the baking pan into a large, lidded plastic storage box to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of the ferment.

20. When fully proved, remove from the storage box, spoon a dollop of the Ricky Sticky Goo on top, and bake in the preheated oven at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for 10 to 12 minutes.

21. Remove the tray from the oven and place on a cooling rack.

22. They are now ready to eat, warm and gooey!

Caution! The Ricky Sticky Goo may overflow the baking pan onto the tray. Do not touch the glaze directly after baking, as it will be extremely hot!

Yield: 4 buns

DOUGH:

250 g (83/4 ounces) strong white bread flour

25 g (1 ounce) caster sugar

3 g (pinch) salt

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

100 g (31/2 ounces) pecan and raisin botanical culture

120 g (41/4 ounces) pecan and raisin botanical water

25 g (1 ounce) softened unsalted butter

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PECAN AND RAISIN FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I use whole or broken pecans and good-quality, ready-to-eat raisins. Place the pecans and the raisins into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the raisins.

RICKY STICKY BUN FILLING:

100 g (31/2 ounces) caster sugar

50 g (13/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

10 g (1/3 ounce) ground cinnamon

Combine the ingredients in a bowl with a spoon until thoroughly mixed together.

RICKY STICKY GOO:

50 g (13/4 ounces) unsalted butter

25 g (1 ounce) honey

25 g (1 ounce) glucose syrup (or corn syrup)

100 g (31/2 ounces) demerara sugar

75 g (23/4 ounces) pecan pieces

Melt the butter in a bowl in the microwave, add the remaining ingredients, and stir together with a spoon until thoroughly combined.

WILLIAMS PEAR AND CARDAMOM BUNS

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DOUGH:

250 g (83/4 ounces) strong white bread flour

25 g (1 ounce) caster sugar

3 g (pinch) salt

10 g (1/3 ounce) milk powder

100 g (31/2 ounces) pear and cardamom botanical culture

120 g (41/4 ounces) pear and cardamom botanical water

25 g (1 ounce) softened unsalted butter

Beaten egg, for brushing over the top

The spice cardamom is a common ingredient in Turkish and Indian cooking. I always add cardamom pods to my rice when I try my hand at making curries, as they add a wonderful aromatic infusion. Spiced cardamom buns, as well as cinnamon buns, are a huge Nordic favorite. Although cardamom has a powerful flavor and aroma, the sweetness of this botanical bun dough balances out the intense cardamom spice to form a harmonious sweet roll that is a wonderful example of this Scandinavian classic.

1. Weigh all the dry ingredients separately and place them into a large plastic bowl in the following order: flour first and then the caster sugar, salt, and milk powder in separate piles on top.

2. Thoroughly stir the ingredients together to fully disperse the milk powder and prevent any lumps from forming once the liquid is added.

3. Add the botanical culture, botanical water, and tap water, and combine until a dough starts to form and the sides of the bowl are clean.

4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a dry work surface until it becomes smooth and elastic, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Expect the dough to feel firm as you knead. When the butter is added, the dough will soften.

5. Use the windowpane test (see here) to check if the dough is fully developed.

6. Place the dough back into the plastic bowl and add the butter. Using one hand, start squeezing the butter into the dough. It may take a little while but keep persevering.

7. After the butter is fully incorporated, place the dough on the work surface and knead until it feels smooth and elastic.

8. Form the dough into a cylindrical shape.

9. Place the dough into a lidded plastic container and leave to bulk ferment for 30 minutes.

10. Remove the dough from the container and gently reshape the dough into a rectangle.

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11. Place back into the container for another 30 minutes.

12. Remove the dough from the container and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 24 x 91/2-inch (60 x 48 cm) rectangle.

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13. Rotate the dough so the 91/2-inch (24 cm) edge is closest to you.

14. Using a pallet knife, spread the Cardamom Bun Filling over the top 12 inches (30 cm) of dough, leaving the half closest to you free from any filling.

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15. Fold the unfilled half upward to cover the cardamom-filled half; the rectangle will now measure 12 x 91/2 inches (30 x 24 cm).

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16. Using a pizza wheel, cut six 11/2-inch (4 cm)-wide vertical strips.

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17. Carefully cut the six strips vertically in half to create twelve 3/4-inch (2 cm)-wide strips.

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18. Cut across horizontally to divide the twelve strips in half to give two rows of twelve strips measuring 3/4 x 6 inches (2 x 15 cm).

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19. Leave the dough strips for a couple of minutes to let them relax.

20. Taking two sets of dough strips in pairs (one pair from the top row and one pair from the bottom row), gently stretch them to make them longer. This will help make the shaping easier. Place the dough pairs in a cross as shown in the photographs. Now, carefully follow the shaping directions in the photos.

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21. Place the shaped cardamom bun on a baking paper–lined baking tray.

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22. Repeat this shaping with the remaining pairs of dough to end up with 6 cardamom buns.

23. Place the tray into a large, lidded plastic storage box to fully prove. This could take from 3 to 6 hours, depending on the activity of your ferment.

24. When fully proved, remove from the storage box, brush the tops with beaten egg, and bake in the preheated oven at 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6) for 8 to 10 minutes.

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25. Remove the tray from the oven, generously brush Medium Sugar Syrup over each bun, and leave on the tray to cool.

Yield: 6 buns

PEAR AND CARDAMOM FERMENT:

To build my ferment, I use organic Williams pears, often called Bartlett pears in the United States, cut into quarters and use whole cardamom pods. Place the pears and the cardamom pods into a fermenting jar, cover them with water, and close the lid. This will usually ferment quickly due to the sugars within the pears.

TIP:

Add a few cardamom pods to the sugar syrup. These will infuse in the syrup and impart more flavor to the bun.

CARDAMOM BUN FILLING:

7 g (1/4 ounce) whole cardamom pods

100 g (31/2 ounces) caster sugar

50 g (13/4 ounces) softened unsalted butter

1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the cardamom pods.

2. Place the sugar, butter, and ground cardamom in a bowl and combine thoroughly using a wooden spoon.

MEDIUM SUGAR SYRUP:

100 g (31/2 ounces) caster sugar

200 g (7 ounces) tap water

1. Place the sugar and tap water into a saucepan and gently boil for a couple of minutes.

2. Leave to cool. Store any remaining syrup in the fridge.

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