We all have ingredients we can’t do without. The ingredient that appears in nearly all the dishes we make and our cupboards are full of its variants. For me,and probably a great deal of the population, it is salt. Fish & chips are not the same without the salty tang and bread made without salt is not worth tasting. I usually have three types of salt to hand. Table salt – for all sort of cooking (and defrosting the drive at this time of year!), rock salt – for the table grinder and flaky sea salt – for flavour and garnishing. Maldon is one of my favourite flaky sea salt. I always love the shape of the crystals, it satisfies the maths geek in me.
Along with the ingredient we can’t do without we also all have a desert island dish and Maldon have asked various people for their desert island dishes. For me it has to be an enriched dough stuffed with some fruit with an added bonus it has been soaked in rum. Quite appropriate for being stuck on a desert island don’t you think?
Due to our love of all things food and drink we are often given alcohol as gifts off friends and family. Globetrotting brother always brings us back rum from his travels in the Caribbean. He has very good taste in rum, some would argue he’s a bit of a rum snob so how a spiced rum, he’s denying he spend his cash on, ended up in our possession I don’t know. It’s a monster sized bottle and I find it too sweet and fragrant for drinking but it’s turning out to be the perfect alcohol to bake with. The strong spicy vanilla scent in the rum works well in most sweet recipes and could even work in the odd savoury recipe.
Over the last few years I’ve tried different Chelsea bun recipes but always come back to Quirky Cookies recipe as a base as it works so well. This reincarnation worked so well Hubs came home from work, chain-ate two then offered to do the washing up. I’ll have to make them more often. I use four different sugars in this recipe for the different flavours and textures they give. The demerara sugar on the topping gives a satisfying crunch.
To mark Maldon Sea Salt’s 130th birthday they have released a cookbook with chefs’ desert island dishes. I have my eye on the burnt cream recipe as quite frankly that would probably be my second desert island dish.
Salted Caramel Chelsea Buns
For the dough
225g strong white bread flour
25g caster sugar
1/4 tsp salt
25g softened butter
1 1/2 tsp fast action yeast
1 medium egg, beaten
90ml warm milk
For the filling
75 ml spiced rum
30g glace cherries, chopped
20g mixed peel
25g butter, softened
30g soft dark sugar
30g demerara sugar
For the topping
10g soft dark sugar
20g demerara sugar
25g softened butter
100g icing sugar
Pinch of flaky sea salt
1) Put all the dried fruit in a saucepan with the rum. Bring to the boil then take off the heat. Allow the fruit to soak up the rum. When you are ready to use the fruit drain off any remaining rum.
2) Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the softened butter, egg and milk. Mix to make a soft dough then knead until smooth.
3) Cover and prove until doubled in size. Due to the amount of yeast in the dough this does happen quite fast.
4) Flour your work surface, and roll out the dough, (no need to knock it back) to a rectangle measuring about 12 x 9 inches. If you get the edges as square as you can it will help to make your buns look even.
5) Spread the softened butter for the filling as evenly as you can over the dough. Sprinkle the two sugars and the rum soaked fruit on top.
6) Roll up the dough along the long edge, as though you were making a Swiss Roll. Turn the roll over so that the seal is underneath and divide the roll into 9 equal buns.
7) Place the buns, swirl side up, into a lined 8in x 8in tin, and leave to prove until the dough has doubled in size, and the buns have all joined together. Sprinkle the demerara and soft dark sugar over the top of the buns the dot with the softened butter.
8) Bake at 180°C, for 15-10 minutes until buns are risen and golden. Once cooked, cool on a wire rack. Mix the icing sugar with a small amount of boiled water to make a glace icing then drizzle this over the buns then sprinkle with the flaky sea salt. I should confess I think Chelsea Buns taste best warm from the oven.