Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bath Buns

I don't remember my exact age, but I was a teenager still living at home when I received my bread machine as a Christmas gift. I had a typical teenager bedroom, except that there was a bread machine on my dresser (or most likely, the floor). I'm not sure why I didn't keep it in the kitchen. I don't even remember the reason why I got it as a gift. This was before I really became interested in cooking; I remember making a peach pie one Thanksgiving with canned peaches and a store-bought crust and being deliriously giddy with pride at my accomplishment.

So, after Christmas, I went to the store and bought boxed bread machine mixes and immediately fell in love with the square loaves of bread that my machine would crank out. It was fun using that machine, it's like an Easy-Bake Oven for adults, except that this time my older brothers couldn't steal all the chocolate cake packets so they could eat the batter.

Then, one day, I came to this realization: bread baked in a bread machine...tastes awful. OK, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but compared to fresh-out-of-the-oven-shaped-by-hand bread, there's no comparison. And there's the fact that bread machine bread is that aforementioned square shape, and then there's that hole in the bottom. The affair with my machine was over. Needless to say, my machine spent some lonely time in a closet.

I credit my mom (yes, that one!) with reacquainting me with my long-lost friend. She started to use her machine to make dough; in particular, one that has become one of  my favorite pizza dough recipes. She then gave me a book full of bread dough recipes adapted for bread machines, which is where this recipe comes from.

I have since started branching out and have begun tackling my fear of making bread the old-fashioned way (no machines!) with success, but sometimes putting ingredients in a bread machine and an hour later having a perfectly shaped ball of dough waiting for you is very convenient.

Bath Buns
Adapted from The Bread Machine Book by Marjie Lambert

These sweet rolls, which are named after the English city where they originated from, are made from a sweet egg dough and make a great breakfast pastry.

(Makes 12 rolls)

1 egg + 1 yolk
3/4 cup milk
6 tbsp butter, melted
6 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp mace
3/4 tsp salt
3 cups bread flour
1 tbsp yeast
1/2 cup currants (or raisins)

1 egg
1 tbsp milk
1 - 2 tbsp sugar

Put all dough ingredients except currants in your machine in the order suggested by your bread machine instructions (normally: liquids, then flour, then yeast). Set for "dough" stage and press start. Add the currants after the first kneading  or when the machine signals it's time to add fruit.

Butter a baking sheet (or better, line it with parchment paper). When dough is ready, remove it from the machine and punch it down. The dough can be a little sticky; I've found that placing it on a piece of waxed paper or on a lightly oiled surface makes handling it a little easier (adding flour seems to keep the the dough from shaping into nice balls). 

Cut the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Cover loosely and set in a warm place to rise until doubled (about 45 minutes).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Make glaze by fork-beating the egg and milk. Lightly brush tops of rolls with glaze and then sprinkle with sugar.

Bake until buns are golden brown, approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

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