I’ve been fairly busy this weekend batch cooking and baking. I’ve made a meat sauce that I’m going to use to make lasagna for tonight’s supper and spaghetti meals for the week. I’ve made my version of my mom’s meatloaf as well. I’m really happy as the fridge is full and I won’t have to think of what to cook for the next few days.
I’ve attempted to make almond buns yesterday after Alan sent me a recipe for almond buns. The recipe looked fairly easy to follow but called for shop bought almond paste. Since I had ground almonds at home, I thought it would be easy to make almond paste at home. I googled recipes and found a relatively straightforward recipe that I thought I’d share with you.
You can opt to use my Chinese Milk Bread recipe, however for buns and loaves, I recommend Hazel’s recipe. I don’t know Hazel (Avellana) personally but I stumbled across her blog whilst I was searching for recipes for cinnamon buns. I was looking for a Cinnabon-like cinnamon bun and this was easy to do and yielded amazing results. I’ve been using the dough recipe for most of my enriched dough endeavours. You can find her recipe by clicking Perfect Cinnamon Buns. I’ve based the ingredients on her list but I’ve used my own (tried and tested) way of creating an enriched dough, which has always worked for me.
I apologise for the lack of photography, I’ll do better next time. My kitchen is a right bomb site! I’ve been overrun by multi-buy purchases (it’s cheaper on Amazon if you buy more than one item!) and I’ve allowed myself to be overwhelmed by an unwillingness to sort out my cupboards (you’ll be pleased to know this is now a work in progress thing and I’ve at least started the process of sorting things out!).
For the dough:
- 250ml warm milk
- 100g caster sugar
- 2 x 7g sachet of dried, quick action yeast.
- 2 eggs
- 75g butter, melted
- 600g strong white flour
- 1 tsp salt
For the almond paste:
- 250g ground almonds
- 150g granulated sugar
- 75ml water
- 75g unsalted butter
- 2 tsp almond extract (optional)
- In a heatproof (microwaveable) container, place the milk and sugar and mix until the sugar is combined with the milk. Place in the microwave and heat up for about 30 seconds until slightly warm to the touch. This can also be done on the stove, but make sure that the milk doesn’t catch at the bottom of the pan. NB If you are doing the pan method, make sure you keep stirring. Remember you want the milk to be just warm. Once the milk and sugar mixture has been warmed, add the 2 sachets of yeast and mix well. Set aside in a warm place to allow the yeast to activate. It should take about 10 to 15 minutes. I usually place mine in my airing cupboard or if in a pinch a lukewarm oven (of course, switched off).
- Whilst waiting for the yeast to activate, you can make the almond paste. In a small pan, combine the water and the granulated sugar. While stirring constantly, bring the mixture to a slow simmer. Make sure you don’t take your eye off the sugar-water mix as it can burn quickly if unattended. Once all the sugar is melted and the mixture is clear (you should be able to see the bottom of the pan), take the pan off the heat and stir in the butter. Mix until the butter has completely melted and stir in the almond extract if using. Add the ground almonds and mix until well combined. The more you mix the paste, the smoother it gets. I like the coarseness of the ground almonds but if you want a smoother paste, you can use a stick blender until you get to the consistency you prefer. Set aside and allow to cool.
- Mix the flour and salt in a bowl and set aside (do not refrigerate as you don’t want the paste to harden).
- You’ll know the yeast has activated when the bubbles are almost as much as the liquid. In a mixing bowl, mix the melted butter and the 2 eggs until well-combined. Pour in the yeast and milk mixture and mix well. Add the flour and mix until well combined. I use a free standing mixer and I beat the dough until it comes away from the sides. Of course, if you don’t have a mixer this can all be done by hand. Once the dough was mixed well, turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. If the dough feels wet and sticky, sprinkle a little flour over the surface and the dough and knead. It should take about 10 minutes of kneading, if doing it by hand and about 4 to 5 minutes if doing this via the mixer. Once all combined pour about 1 tbsp of oil in the mixing bowl and place the dough in the oil, making sure the dough is well oiled. Cover the top of the bowl with cling film or a towel and place in a warm place to let the dough proof and rise. Leave for about an hour.
- Check on the dough after an hour. It should be about twice the size of the original ball of dough. If it is still slightly smaller, allow for another 30 minutes to an hour. Once the dough is risen, whilst still in the bowl, punch the dough several times to release the air and deflate the dough. Turn out into a floured surface and knead until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a rough rectangle of about 24 inches (60cm) in length and about 12 inches (30cm) in width.
- Once you have your sheet, spread the cooled almond paste all over the dough, leaving about an inch at the bottom of the sheet. Roll the dough down towards you as tightly as you can and with a sharp knife, cut your buns from the long stick. This should make about 16 buns.
- Place the buns in a wax paper-lined (greaseproof) tray or large flat baking dish, about 2 inches apart, and allow to prove for another hour. After the second proof, the dough should rise and grow to twice the size.
- Preheat the oven to 180C. While waiting for the oven to heat, mix 50ml of milk and 2 heaping tablespoons of confectioners (icing) sugar, brush this all over the buns. You can also use an egg wash (beat 1 egg and brush over the buns). Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 20 minutes (sometimes even up to 22), depending on the oven. The buns should turn golden brown and rise some more. Once they are lovely and golden, take theam out of the oven. Allow to cool on the baking tin for 15 minutes before moving it to cooling racks.
- This is optional as it means adding more sugar, but if you’d like to add a glaze, mix 50ml milk, 4 heaping tablespoons of confectioners sugar and 1 teaspoon of almond extract and combine until smooth and lump free. Drizzle over the buns. Serve and enjoy!
Top tip: The recipe is quite substatial, so I decided to create buns and a plait loaf. But if you decide that you’d rather have buns, this makes 16 generously sized soft filled buns.