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Fresh from the Oven – Chocolate Buns

This month’s Fresh from the Oven challenge was hosted by Chele. Although the recipe appeared challenging at first, it was certainly enjoyable…and delicious. As there is only 2 of us a batch of 24 wasn’t exactly practical so I halved the recipe then froze half of the buns to be baked at a later date.

This is the first time I’ve made crème patisserie (I also know it as Confectioner’s Custard). It is essentially like a thick custard and is often used for filling pastries and tarts. Although I didn’t make it perfectly due to the tiny lumps it still was the right consistency and tasted perfect though at one point looked and smelt scarily like old school chocolate custard. Though this custard you won’t be pouring over steamed suet pudding.

The dough did take a bit to rise, but once it was ready to work with it was a perfect texture. Yes, I also went a bit OTT with the chocolate chips, but if you can’t go mad with chocolate in these buns when can you? They were absolutely delicious the texture between the custard, bread and chocolate chips was perfect. I would certainly make them again and I look forward to defrosting & baking the rest of the buns.

Chocolate Buns
makes 24

250g full fat milk (Richard likes to weigh it but its 250ml)
15g fresh yeast
500g strong bread flour
60g unsalted butter at room temp
40g caster sugar
10g salt
2 large eggs
25g good quality coca powder
200g chocolate chips, milk or plain, or a mixture
2 eggs beaten with a pinch of salt for an egg wash
Creme Patissiere (recipe follows)
15g cocoa powder

Pour the milk into a pan and warm gently until it is about body temp – it should feel neither warm nor cold when you dip your finger into it.

To mix by hand, rub the yeast into the flour using your fingertips as if making a crumble. Rub in the butter, then add the sugar and salt, then the eggs, milk and cocoa powder. With the help of a plastic scraper, lift the dough onto your work surface. Even though the dough will feel quite soft and moist (and look like thick, sticky porridge) do not add any flour to the work surface.

Begin to work the dough, slide your fingers underneath it like a pair of forks, with your thumbs on top, swing it upwards and then slap it back down, away from you, onto your work surface (it will almost be too sticky to lift at this point). Stretch the front of the dough towards you, then lift it back over itself in an arc (to trap the air), still stretching it forwards and sideways and tucking it in around the edges. Keep repeating this sequence.

As you work the dough it will start to come together and feel alive and elastic in your hands. Keep on working until it comes cleanly away from the work surface, begins to look silky and feels smooth, firm but wobbly and responsive.

Now you can flour your work surface lightly, place the dough on top and form it into a ball by folding each edge in turn into the centre of the dough and pressing down well with your thumb, rotating the ball as you go. Turn the whole ball over and stretch and tuck the edges under. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest for 45 mins in a draught free place.

Make the creme pattissiere.

Once the 45 mins are up, use the rounded end of a scraper, transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and, with a rolling pin, gently flatten it into a rough rectangle. Spread the chocolate creme patissiere evenly over the dough and sprinkle on the chocolate chips. Starting with one of the longer edges, roll the dough up until it resembles a Swiss roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 2cm slices and place them on their sides on a baking tray. Glaze with a little egg wash and leave to prove for 1 1/4 – 1 3/4 hours until the buns have roughly doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 250C.

Glaze again and put into the preheated oven, turning the heat down to 180C. Bake for 10-15 mins. As the chocolate dough is quite dark it can be difficult to tell when the buns are properly baked, and you need to take care not to under bake them – the best way to tell when they are ready is to lift one gently with a spatula and check that it is firm underneath.

If you don’t want to bake the buns all in one go, you can freeze some. When they are cut, just before proving, put them on a small tray in the freezer and when they are hard put them into a freezer bag. To use them, take them out, leave to prove overnight and bake in the same way.

Makes 24 buns
‘Dough’ Richard Bertinet

Creme Patissiere
In a bowl whisk together 6 egg yolks, 70 g caster sugar and 50g sifted flour. Put another 70g sugar into a saucepan with 500g (500ml) full fat milk, a vanilla pod split lengthwise and seeds scrapped in and the remaining cocoa powder. Place over a low heat. Leave until the first bubble appears, then remove from the heat. Whisk 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture, then add the remaining 2/3 of the milk and stir again. Pour back into the pan and put back on the heat. Bring to the boil and simmer for a couple of mins, stirring constantly to ensure that the cream does not burn on the bottom. Pour into a dish to cool. Sprinkle a little icing sugar or flakes of butter on top to prevent a skin forming.

Using A Mixer With A Dough Hook
Put the flour into your mixer bowl and rub in the yeast. Rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Switch the mixer onto the slowest speed, add the sugar, cocoa and salt, then the eggs and milk and mix for 2 mins, then turn up to the next slowest speed and mix for a further 6-7 mins until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, transfer to a lightly floured surface to mould into a ball before placing in a tea towel to prove for 45 mins. Then follow the rest of the instructions as listed above. Easy peasy – honest!

‘Dough’ Richard Bertinet

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About the author

Jules

Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

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