Lu­cia buns

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - FOOD -

WHAT YOU’LL NEED 200ml whole milk 0.5g (or the tini­est pinch) ground saf­fron 25g fresh yeast 75g tbs caster/su­perfine su­gar 100ml quark or Greek yo­ghurt 400-500g strong bread flour, plus ex­tra for dust­ing 1/2 tsp salt 100g tbs but­ter, soft­ened and cubed 1 egg, beaten (re­serve half for brush­ing) A hand­ful of raisins Pearl su­gar (op­tional) METHOD 1. Heat the milk in a saucepan un­til finger-warm (no more than 37°C/ 98°F), then add the ground saf­fron. 2. In a stand mixer, add the fresh yeast and the milk-saf­fron mix­ture (again, no warmer than 37°C/98°F or the yeast will die). Mix for one minute, then add the su­gar and stir un­til dis­solved. Stir in the quark or yo­gurt un­til in­cor­po­rated, then mix in about half the flour, as well as the salt. As you keep mix­ing, grad­u­ally add more flour, tak­ing care not to add too much (saf­fron is very dry­ing, so if you have a dry dough, the end re­sult will also be dry). Add the but­ter and half of the egg and keep mix­ing, adding more flour as needed. This will take around five min­utes. 3. When the dough is springy and well-kneaded, leave to rest in a cov­ered bowl in a warm place for about 40 min­utes or un­til dou­bled in size. 4. Turn out the dough onto a floured sur­face and knead. Cut into 16 even pieces. Roll each piece into a 20cm-long roll. Take each end and twist them back in on them­selves in op­po­site di­rec­tions, so you end up with an S-shape. Line a bak­ing tray with pa­per, then place each bun on it, en­sur­ing there is good dis­tance be­tween each one (or you can shape into a wreath by plac­ing the buns in a cir­cle, leav­ing a 1cm gap be­tween them, as they spread dur­ing bak­ing). Gen­tly press a raisin into the cen­tre of each swirl. Leave to rise for 20 min­utes. 5. Pre­heat the oven to 170°C/340°F/Gas mark 4. 6. Gen­tly brush each bun with the re­main­ing egg and bake in the pre­heated oven for eight to 10 min­utes, or un­til golden and done. Leave un­der a damp tea towel for at least 10 min­utes as soon as they come out of the oven to en­sure no crust forms. If you wish, scat­ter over some pearl su­gar. Saf­fron dough dries out quickly, so ei­ther eat the buns on the day of bak­ing or freeze as soon as they’re cool. You can also en­joy them slightly toasted when they’re a few days old. MAKES 16

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