Yesterday was a dismal day here at the cottage. The fog hung thick around the walls and the newly prepped ski tracks were ruined by rain. There was nothing to tempt us to go outside and it was a challenge to find something to take photographs of.
However, it was a very good excuse to do nothing except snuggle up in a comfy chair and read a good book. In my case “From Plate to Pixel“. I am trying to get better at taking food photographs and found the book both inspiring and full of practical and useful advice. As today is “Fastelaven” (Shrovetide in English – at least that is the best translation I have found) I also wanted to make some buns. This Sunday is the last Sunday before the beginning of Lent and traditionally it is also the last opportunity to eat well before the fast. Fattening yeast buns filled with cream are usually served sometime during the day.
When the children were small we often filled a basket with hot chocolate and buns and carried it off to Ulabrand, to sit there looking out over the sea on a cold and crisp winter’s day. Buns filled with whipped cream in a basket and walking is not a good combination, so we created our own tradition by inserting a piece of chocolate in the buns. The challenge was to get to Ulabrand whilst the buns were still hot and the chocolate inside meltingly soft.
The recipe has gradually evolved, from using white flour and sugar, to using spelt and raw sugar. Yesterday it dawned on me that chocolate and orange is a lovely combination, so why not include orange zest in the recipe… The smell of baking orange filled the cottage and the buns turned out exceedingly delicious. If you would like to have a go, the recipe follows below.
Now what has all this got to do with Edradour? Nothing, except that a “wee dram” at the close of a mellow day was the perfect ending. In June last year we visited Scotland’s smallest whisky distillery. They only produce two barrels a day and everything is done by hand, including shoveling the malt. We bought a bottle of one of their most smooth whiskies and it is only brought out at very special moments. Yesterday, for some odd reason, was one of those. The ambiance in the cottage, the warm, snug feeling of sitting by the fireplace, with the dog at our feet – everything was the perfect setting for a wee dram.
The day drew to a close, you could nearly hear the angels whispering good night.
Chocolate and orange yeast buns
For 15-16 large buns you will need:
- 350g cold milk
- 100g cold butter
- 100g raw sugar
- 1tsp dried yeast or a peasized lump of fresh yeast
- grated rind of one well washed orange
- 550g sifted spelt (farro) flour and a little extra flour if you think the dough is too loose.
- 15-16 pieces of good dark chocolate
- A little flour for shaping the dough
- 1 egg whisked with a tablespoon of milk for egg wash
- A little rough cut sugar brown or white for topping
Use a Thermomix or a food processor to incorporate the butter in the flour together with the dried yeast if you’re not using fresh. If you are using fresh yeast dissolve the yeast in the milk and add the orange zest. Tip the flour mixture into the bowl and mix well. Cover, and let stand for 8-10 hours (or overnight) at room temperature. Turn the dough out on a floured surface and knead for a minute or two. You may need to add a little more flour at this stage. Divide the dough into two parts and roll each piece out into a “sausage” which you cut into 7 or 8 pieces. Insert a piece of chocolate in to each and roll into a ball. Place on a baking sheet. (You will probably need two baking sheets.) Let rise under a tea towel for 45 min.
Set your oven to 225ºC. Brush the egg wash on the buns and drizzle some sugar on top. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes depending on how hot your oven is. Keep an eye on them the last few minutes. You don’t want them getting too brown.
Serve warm with a cup of hot chocolate. Enjoy!
PS: I am thinking of replacing the milk with orange juice next time. I think they may become even more delicious.
PS for Thermomix owners: You may wonder why I don’t use the TM to knead the dough. This dough is a little sticky and I find it more of a hassle to scrape out the dough to let it rise in another bowl, than to mix it quickly by hand.