I don’t think you can ordinarily get anything quite like these buns here in Britain. The idea is similar to cinnamon rolls: soft white bread dough rolled around a sugary, buttery filling. Lots of fresh orange zest makes them extraordinarily fragrant, soaking the pillowy bread with sugary perfume.
The only snag is that you can’t get around the fact that bread takes time, even if you mostly leave it alone. You can’t try to rush it with large amounts of yeast or heat; the result will inevitably be an unsalvageable beery foam. I made the buns over two days, giving them an overnight rise and baking them the day after. That way, it fit into my schedule and took a couple of hours out of each day rather than an entire afternoon.
I’d like to think that bread-making soothes rather than causes stress; indeed, smacking the bread dough about is just as marvellously therapeutic as eating them warm from the oven afterwards. I like them with a mug of milky Earl Grey tea to complete a comforting afternoon treat.
For the dough: Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
Add the milk and gently warm until about blood temperature (test with a clean finger), then take off the heat.
In a large bowl, mix the flour, dried yeast, sugar, and salt.
Beat the egg into the warm milk and pour this mixture into the flour.
Combine thoroughly; after a few minutes you’ll get a soft, sticky dough which just forms a mound. If it’s still sloppy, add flour a spoonful at a time and keep mixing until the dough just comes together.
Knead the dough: tip the dough out onto a well floured surface, then – with floured hands – press, stretch, and fold the dough over and over again.
After about 10 minutes the dough should seem bouncier and less sticky.
Place into a large bowl and cover with clingfilm.
Leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 ½ hours, or until doubled in size.
If the dough doesn’t spring back when poked with a finger, it’s ready.
Meanwhile, make the filling: In a bowl, beat 200g soft butter with the brown sugar and zest until smooth.
Add the icing sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and extracts.
Mix until creamy.
Shape the buns: Divide the risen dough in half.
Working one at a time, roll each half out to about the size of an A4 sheet of paper (about 21 x 29 cm).
Evenly spread half the filling over the dough.
Starting from the longer side, roll dough into a log, then carefully slice into 6 pieces.
Place them into a large greased tin or dish - about 23 x 33 cm in size.
Repeat the process with the other half of the dough. (If you’ve got the work space, you can roll all the dough into one big A3 sheet, about 29 x 42 cm.)
At this stage the uncooked buns should not quite fill the baking vessel; divide between two dishes if necessary – they need room to rise and cook properly.
Cover the buns with clingfilm and leave to rise. You can do a cold slow rise in the fridge for at least 6 hours or overnight. Alternately, leave them for 1 hour in a warm place before baking. Either way, they should double in size again.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 190°C and bake the buns for about 25 minutes until golden and bubbling.
Eat while warm. Store any leftovers in an airtight container up to about a week.
When you want to eat them, reheat at 180°C for 10 minutes, or about 30 seconds per bun in a microwave. Enjoy!
I'm a self-conscious dilettante with a degree in History of Art from SOAS and UCL. I've lived in Greater London all my life, interrupted only occasionally by brief trips to Thailand. The result is that I speak Thai with a Croydon accent (and sometimes Croydon with a posh accent, but that's another story).
Far from being a charming bilingual intellectual of the world who ably holds forth on every topic imaginable at dinner parties, most of what I actually say in either language is "Hello", "That's a nice painting", and "I'm hungry". My idea of a balanced diet is a bowl of Mama instant noodles in one hand and a chip buttie in the other, but I also don't mind a nice bit of duck confit or gaeng paa gai. I don't go to dinner parties, anyway.
I like looking at interesting things. Thai contemporary art, Early Modern English portraiture, and lowbrow art have so far held my attention.
I consume vast amounts of art and food, so I thought I would give something back by writing.