Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Peach and Elderflower Buns and a New Chair

It's been a busy couple of weeks with quite a few deadlines in it, heat which I don't cope well in to contend with, and the great jumper project to take up a quantity of my knitting time. I need to read more, sleep more, and sweat less. The jumper may well be less of a distraction from reading until it cools down though, as it's now advanced enough to have some weight to it, and a heap of wool on your lap isn't great as the temperature crawls into the high 20's.

Despite the heat, I did make the fragrant elderflower and peach breakfast buns from 'Amber and Rye' and they are everything I hoped they might be and more. It's one of those really useful recipes that looks like it will be endlessly adaptable both in terms of how you make it and what filling you use for it. It also comes in a usefully small quantity - there are enough breakfast buns here to make a good breakfast for 3 - 4 people. The recipe says it makes 6-8 buns, but they're not big, and there's every chance you might want 2 - any leftovers will go in the afternoon. 

I used 1 packet of instant yeast (7g), 50g of caster sugar, 100ml of milk with 25g of butter melted in it, a pinch of salt, and 200g of plain flour. I let the milk and butter cool a little whilst I put everything else into a bowl and then used a dough hook to knead the lot for about 10 minutes (I used to love kneading dough by hand, but tendon problems in my elbow and wrist have put me off doing it the old fashioned way). When the dough is silky smooth and nice and elastic stick it in a bowl covered by a clean, damp, tea towel and leave it to double in size (about 40 - 50 mins).

Whilst the dough does its thing if you can get freshly foraged elderflower heads that aren't full of black bugs and have nothing better to do then take about 10 of them, rinse them under a cold tap, and stick in a pan with 3 tablespoons of white sugar, the finely grated zest of a lemon, and 200ml of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 15 mins, then turn off the heat and leave to infuse for another 10 mins or so before straining the syrup through a fine sieve and discarding the elderflower. 

Honestly, this is a nice thing to do on a cool day in late spring when the elderflower is fresh and you don't mind having the oven on. On a blazing June morning, I would cheerfully have used cordial if I'd had any - but the elderflower bush in the park was closer than Tesco metro. Homemade has the advantage of only making what you need and letting you know exactly how much sugar you've used - but I'm not convinced that it makes much odds in the flavour stakes by the time everything is assembled. 

Once the syrup is ready add in a couple of chopped peaches and boil again, turn down to a simmer and give the fruit a good 10 mins, or until it's disintegrating - the 'perfectly ripe' peaches I had bought on Friday were still rock hard on the inside but wrinkled on the outside by Monday - they really were only good for cooking with. Add 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract and stir it in. The original recipe says to sift in a spoon of cornflower and stir for another 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to thicken. My peaches were so hard that by the time they'd sufficiently softened there wasn't much syrup left in need of thickening so I think this is a matter of discretion.

Find a roughly 20cm round cake tin, and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.

By now the dough ought to have risen, in which case knock it back and then roll into a rectangle roughly 1 cm thick. Spread with the filling, leaving a good border clear around the edges, and then roll into a long sausage. Cut into 6 - 8 rounds, and arrange in the tin. Cover with the damp cloth again and leave to rise for another 20 minutes (they should be filling the tin).

Whilst they're doing that make a crumble mix with a tablespoon of brown sugar, a tablespoon of plain flour, and a tablespoon of butter. I had some praline mix in the freezer which I also chucked in, and would actually have been a perfectly good crumble substitute on its own. Heat the oven to 180c. Once the buns have risen, glaze the top of them with an egg, sprinkle the crumble over, and bake for about 25 mins until golden.

The possibilities for this are endless - you could use basically any jam you wanted for the middle, although I think it's the perfect use for any otherwise disappointingly hard, under-ripe, stone fruit and Zuza Zak also suggests using pears - I'm wondering what quince would be like too - the freshness of the fruit in the bun was the real treat here for me. 

The new chair, or indeed New Chair, because I'm very excited about it is a vintage Lloyd loom number that someone had left by the side of the road with a whole mix of other chairs and wanted rid of. There was a note that said please take me, and so I did. Structurally the chair was in excellent condition, the paintwork not so much. The correct thing to do would be to spray it with primer, than paint, then lacquer. I used emulsion and a small paint brush. 

I've done nothing for it's value in the process, but it looks fresh (if patchy in real life) and is protected somewhat until I can find a suitable outdoor space to do the job properly in. It really did look to manky to leave as it was in my small flat and in some places I wouldn't have wanted to even try a light sanding - now all I'll take off is my own paintwork which is fine. I've wanted a bit of Lloyd Loom for a very long time but it's horribly expensive hence my current excitement. A very small amount of guilt about not knocking on doors and checking the person doing the garage clearance realsied what they were getting rid of is offset by a strong belief that what goes around comes around. It was my turn for some god luck, and will be there's next.  

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