My obsession with baking breads is growing by leaps and bounds! I am so thankful to be a part of the baking group that helps me explore a new bread every month! The bread chosen by Aparna for the month of February for our We Knead To Bake project# 25 is this gorgeous bun called as the 'Black Forest Bun' as it is an adaptation of one of my favourite layered cakes that is Germany's gift to the world. The Black Forest Bun uses a cherry compote (or jam) and chocolate cake filling and is pretty much like cinnamon rolls. These super delicious buns make for a very hearty breakfast if you like to start your day with something sweet. I think these were chosen to be the bread of the month because the Valentine's Day fever is on everywhere and although I could have made these ahead of V-Day I didn't quite have the time last week. Today is my last day of posting this recipe as Lent begins tomorrow, the 18th of February and I will not be doing any posts on sweets - baking or otherwise.
Since this recipe involved a chocolate sponge cake as well (as a filling) I set out to work a day in advance. I usually plan my baking according to the amount of natural light at my disposal. As always, cake baking comes to me as an absolute pleasure and since I hadn't baked brownies in a long while I chose my favourite recipe to work with. The only mistake I did was to make a brownie for this recipe instead of a simple chocolate sponge as anything more moist than a basic sponge can make the filling a bit paste like. Anyway, I discovered the perils of not having read the complete instructions only the next day when I had already rolled out the dough and was going to crumble the 'cake'. Anyway, the result was good enough and we gobbled up the buns after the photo shoot.
Since I simply love cherries (more than strawberries) the filling was just as I would have liked it - slightly tart and not overtly sweet. The combination of the brownies, the cherry compote and the melted chocolate drizzled on top of cottony soft buns was simply marvellous. The texture of these buns really surprised me as my previous few attempts at making buns/dinner rolls have left me disasppointed so this is one recipe I am going to use a lot - to make simple buns minus the filling of course.
Now that I have eaten too many brownies and buns in the past couple of days I am definitely looking forward to detox and get rid of the excess flab now. What better time and way to do it than follow a simple routine during the upcoming Lent? So while those of you who strictly follow the simple meals during Lent regime can try this after Easter the others can give these lovely buns a try and let me know how you liked them!
And hey, before I forget - Last week I had the privilege of meeting one of the world's most critically acclaimed chefs, Atul Kochhar (twice Michelin starred UK based chef, restaurateur and television personality). Last year he had written me an email of appreciation for my work on the blog which was such an honour for me. Meeting him in person was very humbling experience for me and I hope to draw inspiration from the way he views food from a new perspective each time before presenting his creation to the world. Here's a picture of me with the Chef at his restaurant, Rang Mahal at the J.W Marquis, Dubai!
Prep time: 3 hours | Baking time: 25-30 mins | Yield: 12 big buns
For the Dough:
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup milk
- 50 gm (1/4 cup) butter
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg at room temperature, lightly beaten
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 3 to 3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (maida)
For the Filling:
- 3/4 cup (I used approx 200grams) cherry (or strawberry) jam/preserve or compote
- 2-1/2 to 3 cups crumbled chocolate sponge cake * see notes
For drizzling (optional)
- 1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate or Hershey's chocolate syrup or dust with cocoa powder
1. Mix the water and milk in a saucepan and heat it till quite hot but not boiling. Pour this liquid into a large bowl, add the butter and whisk till the butter has melted. Add in the sugar and stir till the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to cool down to lukewarm. If it is still hot do not add the yeast as the heat will kill it.
2. Add the yeast and the lightly beaten egg and whisk to blend. Then add about 1 cup of the flour and mix well. Initially the mixture will be very pasty. Keep adding flour and the salt in parts until you get a dough that is smooth, elastic but not sticky excessively sticky. You may require a little more than the given amount of flour. I used approx 3-3/4th cups of flour
3. Turn out the mixture onto a clean, lightly floured working surface and dust flour and knead until you get a dough that is no longer sticky
4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn it over a couple of times until it is well coated with the oil. Cover loosely with a clean kitchen towel and place in a warm spot of your kitchen until it doubles in volume, for about 1 - 1-1/2 hours.
5. When the dough has doubled remove it onto a flat surface and roll it out into an 18” by 12” rectangle (or 9" by 12" if using half the recipe).
6. Spread the cherry or strawberry jam/compote leaving a space of 1/2 inch all around the edges. Sprinkle the chocolate cake crumbs on top of this.
7. Starting from the 18" edge tightly roll the dough away from you (as if you would roll a carpet). Seal the edges as firmly as possible using some water to dampen the edges to seal them.
8. Using a sharp serrated knife/dough scraper cut the roll into 1-1/2" wide pieces. You should have 12 pieces for the full recipe and 6 for half of it.
9. Make collars for each piece using foil or parchment paper to fit well around each piece and then place them spaced well apart on a baking tray. * see notes. Cover loosely, and allow to rise, for about 1 hour or till almost double.
10. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and bake the buns for 25 - 30 minutes or until the buns turn a nice golden brown in colour. Remove and cool completely.
11. If you wish, serve them drizzled with melted chocolate or dusted with cocoa
1. You can use a homemade basic chocolate sponge cake or a store bought one. Do not use anything besides a basic sponge, the drier the better. I made the mistake of using a brownie which made the filling/centre of the buns pretty paste like and gooey (not that it affected the taste in any way)
2. When you roll the dough make sure you do it as tightly as possible because it will swell quite a bit while baking and the open ends may loosen up.
3. If you don't want to make individual collars for each piece you can place the pieces in a lightly greased rectangular baking tin with raised sides. If you place them in a round cake tin you will get buns that are more triangular in shape as they will cram up together when the dough is placed to rise again. If you place them too far apart, they will spread rather rise in height.
4. If you do make collars for each make sure not to make the collars too tight as the dough will seep out from below and overlap on the collar. Foil works best for this.