Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Got buns?

The last couple weeks of March, I was lucky enough to work from home. I finally had the chance to scratch a couple of food items off of my ever growing "to cook" list. Including these Whirligig buns from Nigella, which has been starred in my Google Reader for what seems like eternity. Yes, I admit, a large part of the reason I wanted to make these was just because of the name. Whirligig. Whirl-i-gig! Whiiiiiiirligig! But what could possibly be better than waking up in the morning and having warm chocolate and almond buns? Plus, it was an excuse to finally use the dough hook on the KitchenAid.

I followed The Wednesday Chef's advice on this recipe - substituting some almonds, eliminating the bottom dough piece, and cooking at a lower temperature. I wanted these to be amazing and the fact that they weren't out of this world (after reading three bloggers tell me how amazing they were) makes me wonder if I'm just not cut out for "real" baking (i.e. things that involve yeast, things other than cookies). They were still good, just a little bit bland and a tad on the dry side. That said, they were good enough for me to venture to make these again...and I'd encourage you to make them one day and let me know your results.

Buns aside, after over a year of local gigs and a couple weeks spent lounging at home, I'm on the road again (insert Willie Nelson song here). Inevitably part of the consulting lifestyle, I fly out to the client site on Monday morning and fly back home either Thursday or Friday. Sure, it has its perks like racking up United miles and Hilton Honors points plus a daily food allowance, but it also means that my opportunities to cook become almost non existent. Yes, there are weekends, but weekends are usually spent catching up with friends over food and drinks. Hopefully, you'll stick with me as this blog possibly deviates to more random food tidbits and the not-so-glamorous food life of a traveling consultant. I hope to take advantage of having a daily food allowance to try out new restaurants. In return, I'll be trying to do as much cooking as possible on weekends to stock up for posts during the week.

And I can't really in a beach town as summer approaches isn't exactly a rough life.

Chocolate-Almond Whirligig Buns
Makes 20-30 buns

5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 packets instant yeast (6 3/4 teaspoons)
7 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
Vegetable oil

8 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
3/4 cup slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 large egg, beaten

1. Dough - combine 5 cups of flour, sugar, salt and yeast. In a small saucepan, combine butter and milk and heat to lukewarm. Beat the eggs lightly, then whisk them into the milk mixture. Stir the liquid ingredients into the dry ones.

2. Using a mixer with a dough hook, or by hand, knead dough until smooth and springy, adding more flour if necessary. Form into a ball and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until double in size, about 30 minutes.

3. Punch down dough. Line a 13 x 10-inch baking pan with parchment paper or silicon mat. Roll out dough to a rectangle.

4. For the filling, mix together the butter and sugar to a paste. Spread the paste over large rectangle of dough. Sprinkle almonds evenly over the dough, then top with chocolate chips. Starting from longest side, carefully roll up dough so it looks like a long sausage. Cut dough into 20 slices, about 3/4 inch thick, and arrange with a cut side up on top of the dough in the pan.

5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush buns with beaten egg and let them sit in a warm place until puffed up and snugly fitting pan, about 15-20 minutes. Bake until buns have risen and are golden-brown, about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from baking pan to cool on a rack. Serve warm.

Link love:
Inspired by The Wednesday Chef's writeup of the Whirligig Buns
this little piglet
Tea and Cookies