This is one of those happenstance baking recipes that worked out really well. I often fiddle around with bread and cake recipes, trying to add more nutrition or use up ingredients that I bought for something else that didn’t work out. So, this time round, I had oat bran in the cupboard, and remembered how delicious the rolled oats are in my Sticky Oat and Currant Buns, so thought I would try some everyday buns for sandwiches etc. using the oat bran.
Oat bran is one of those foods where the rather dull appearance belies the great nutritional value it has – it reduces bad cholesterol, the risk of coronary heart disease and some studies say it reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes because of its calming influence on your blood sugar levels. It’s a great source of dietary fibre, contains protein, and has the effect of making you feel fuller, for longer, if you are trying to lose weight. The bran gives these buns and slightly sweet, nutty flavour which we all enjoy, so it’s a really easy way to add oat bran to our diet.
I use Dan Lepard’s intermittent method of kneading bread dough (outlined in the recipe) – feel free to ignore and just knead in your usual way (or in a stand mixer) if you prefer. I also boil the milk and let it cool, rather than just bring it up to the right blood heat temperature – again, I follow the Lepard advice here, which says that boiling the milk (to destroy a particular enzyme in they whey protein) produces a lighter crumb. Again, feel free to go your own way – and of course you can use a non-dairy milk and not have to worry about this at all!
Oat Bran Buns
- 400g whole milk/non-dairy alternative weighed directly into a saucepan
- 100g oat bran
- 450g strong breadmaking flour (I use a combination of 250g wholemeal and 200g white, anything works!)
- 50g olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 1 tsp fast action yeast (if you want to use fresh, you need about 10g – dissolve it in the milk when it is at blood heat).
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil for kneading
- Bring the whole milk to the boil and then leave to cool until just at blood heat (you can put the pan into cold water to speed this process up). If you are using non-dairy milk, just warm it to blood heat.
- Measure the oat bran, flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl.
- When the milk is cool enough, add it to the flour/bran mix, along with the oil, and stir the ingredients together (I find a knife works really well, or you can just go in with your hands), until combined. If the dough 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 always-chilly kitchen, this took another hour – but check after 30 minutes if you have a nice warm kitchen!
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces (about 80g 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.
Hope you enjoy these!
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