It’s only a few days until the clocks go back again and although we have had very mild weather so far, the changing light is as much of a sign of the changing season as the incredible colours of the leaves on the trees. I struggle with the light for photography in my house even in the middle of the summer as my kitchen is quite dark and positioned completely the wrong way for good photos while I am baking. I need daylight for my photos as the flash and electric lights give a horrible orange tone. As the days get shorter it gets harder to bake for the blog as if I want decent photos I am limited by the hours of daylight. And on a dull day it’s like baking at dusk in the summer! I miss the kitchen in the house that I rented before buying this one: the back portion of the kitchen was a conservatory so there was always enough light, even on a bad day. In fact in the summer it could be difficult to get a good picture because there was too much light: not a problem I have had recently!
And because the days are drawing it seems like a good time to be experimenting with rich breads. This is not an overly sweet bun, however: there is no sugar in the bread dough and I have only added 25g of soft brown sugar to the filling so the sweetness comes almost entirely from the cranberries and the chocolate. If you like a pain au chocolat as a breakfast treat at the weekend then try this instead. These buns don’t need much more effort than a loaf of bread. Instead of knocking back the dough you roll it out, spread the filling over it, roll it up and cut into slices. Couldn’t be simpler.
For the dough
500g strong white bread flour
10g instant yeast (or 20g fresh)
300ml milk, lukewarm
40g butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
For the filling
25g soft brown sugar
100g dried cranberries
100g dark chocolate chips
25g butter, melted
For the glaze
About a tablespoon of apricot jam
Make the dough:
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and add the yeast to one side and the salt to the other. (If you are using fresh yeast rub it into the flour and add the salt when you are ready to mix in the wet ingredients).
When you are ready to mix in the wet ingredients, combine the flour, yeast and salt.
Add the milk, melted butter and beaten egg to the flour mixture.
Either use your mixer with the dough hook to mix the dough, or stir the mixture together to make a rough dough, then tip it out onto a clean work surface and knead it by hand.
It will start off as quite a wet dough but will soon become smooth and silky.
When the dough is ready, put it into an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm or a tea towel.
Leave to rise until it has roughly doubled in size.
Line a deep baking tray or roasting dish approximately 10″x7″ (mine was 10″ x 7.5″) with baking parchment.
Make the filling: mix together the sugar, dried cranberries and chocolate chips.
Tip the dough out onto a floured surface but do not knock it back.
Roll the dough out into a rectangle, roughly 5mm thick.
Brush the melted butter over the surface of the dough and then sprinkle the filling evenly over it.
Roll the dough up tightly from the long edge to form a cylinder.
Slice the ends off to tidy it up and then carefully slice the cylinder into 9 equal slices.
Put the slices into the lined tin, cut side up. (You can also bake the discarded ends on a floured baking tray to have as a little tester).
Cover the buns with a tea towel and leave to rise again.
Set the oven to 190ºC.
When the buns are well risen bake them for around 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.
Water your apricot jam down with a little water and use a pastry brush to brush it over the tops of the buns when they come out of the oven.
Leave to cool on a wire rack (if you can wait).