This recipe for super-wholesome oat and currant buns is a combination of a couple of bun/bread recipes using soaked rolled oats – one by Sarah Raven from her Christmas book, and one by Dan Lepard on the Guardian website – both are fab recipes, but don’t quite meet my needs, so I have combined and fiddled and come up with these. My family tells me that today’s batch is delicious, but sadly, I have a rotten cold, so they just tasted of fluff to me! At least I know the texture is excellent…
The oats and currants are soaked in hot milk to begin with. I’ve used almond milk this time round, but sometimes I use whole dairy milk – I like to ring the changes, and both work just as well. The recipe also contains a fair bit of butter – I haven’t tried a dairy free version, but I’d LOVE to hear any feedback if you have a go. Because the oats are soaked, they are barely noticeable in the final bake (if you are baking for people, like my children, who fret about such things as ‘Bits’), and bring a good, nutty, slightly sweet flavour, and of course the added nutritional benefit. You don’t need to use currants if you want to keep the buns plain (they make equally good sandwich or burger buns – without the glaze of course), or you can try a different dried fruit. I use currants because I am wedded to the idea of a classic currant bun, and they are #2 son’s favourites.
The kneading method is entirely Dan Lepard’s, and it’s a bit different if you haven’t encountered his method before – it’s very low-key, there’s no hard thumping of dough. This suits me because I hate having sticky dough on my hands, and I’m not one of those, ‘Take out your stress on the dough’ people – if I’m stressed I prefer a sit down with a good book and a martini thanks very much. This method does require you to be in and out of the kitchen for half an hour or so, but I find it means you can keep the dough a little softer and wetter (without the sticky hand scenario), and it always seems to result in a super-light bake, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
A sweet glaze is a wonderful topping to these buns (and they wouldn’t be sticky without it!), but you don’t have to indulge, but I include a couple of glaze options, just in case… and look how fantastic it makes the buns look!
Sticky Oat and Currant Buns
For the bread dough:
- 400g almond milk or whole milk (or a combination) weighed directly into a saucepan
- 75g rolled oats
- 175g currants
- 450g strong breadmaking flour (I use a combination of 250g wholemeal and 200g white, anything works!)
- 1 tsp dried or fast action yeast
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 50g butter
- 1 tsp oil for kneading
For the optional glaze:
- Dissolve 25g of caster sugar in 25g of warm water and then beat in 1 egg.
- Put 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and gently heat until the sugar has dissolved and you have a light syrup.
- Measure the oats and currants into a medium-sized bowl.
- Heat the almond milk/whole milk until hot but not boiling (I think of it as hot enough to wash greasy dishes) and pour over the oats and currants. Stir together, and leave to soak for 15 minutes or so, until just warm. If you have the kind of dried yeast that needs to be activated by dissolving it in liquid before using, add it to this mixture when it is at the ‘warm’ stage (not before or it will kill the yeast).
- Measure the flour, salt and spice in another bowl (the bowl of a stand mixer if you are using one). Add the butter in small cubes and rub the butter into the flour. If using standard fast action yeast, add it to the flour now.
- Add the oat mix to the flour and mix until just combined – don’t knead it yet. If it seems a bit dry and crumbly, feel free to add an extra tablespoon of liquid – wet dough is ALWAYS better than dry. Cover and leave to stand for 10 minutes.
- Put a little oil on your work surface, turn the dough out onto the surface and knead for about 10 seconds. Put the bowl over the dough and leave for another 10 minutes. Knead again, then leave for another 10 minutes. Knead briefly again, then leave the dough in the bowl, with a damp cloth over the bowl, until it has doubled in size. In my cold kitchen today, this took another hour – but check after 30 minutes if you have a nice warm kitchen!
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces (about 95g each) and shape into buns. Put the buns onto a baking tray lined with baking paper/parchment, then cover and leave the buns to rise for 30 minutes or more. My usual method for this is to put the entire tray into a large carrier bag, and fold it closed, making sure the bag doesn’t touch the buns, but you could use a floured tea-towel or your own preferred proving method.
- Switch on your oven to pre-heat to 220C/Gas 7 part way through the second rise. The buns are ready to bake when they have risen appreciably and have batched (i.e. they will be touching each other on the baking tray – unless you have an enormous oven and baking tray of course!!). To tell if they are really ready, poke one of the buns very very gently with the tip of your finger, if the little indentation stays, then the yeast is slowing down, and the buns are ready to bake – if the indentation springs back up quite rapidly, you can leave the buns for a bit longer. Don’t be tempted to rush this phase, if they are not risen properly, the buns will be leaden!
- Bake for 5 minutes at 220C, then turn your oven down to 200C and bake for another 10-12 minutes. If you feel that the buns are getting a little over-brown, you can rest a piece of foil gently on top of them.
- If using, apply the glaze to the buns with a pastry brush as soon as you have taken them out of the oven, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.
For more recipes do visit my directory of Very Berry recipes.