Category Archives: Buns

Ginger Up Those Dan Lepard Tea Cakes

dan Lepard teacakes

So I asked Brian what he would like in the way of baking and being a man of few words he said ‘Buns please’ – once more unto Dan Lepard’s top teacake recipe dear friends. This time I think I have  just about got the bake time for a smaller sized bun spot on. This batch are near enough perfect. I like this recipe because it is a proper light-on-the-sugar bun, relying on the fruit and spice for sweetness.  If you like buns drenched in sugary syrup and crammed with all sorts of bits, this is not the bun for you, but it is Brian’s favourite sweet bun and he would happily eat them all day.

I used organic cocoa butter instead of white chocolate and 100 grams of Buderim ginger, 150 g of sultanas and 50 grams of dried pears as the fruit. A teaspoon of cinammon, half a teaspoon each of ginger and mixed spice, and St Helens semiskimmed goats milk. I add the cocoa butter to the heated milk before pouring it over the other goodies so that it melts easily. I am getting quite into goats milk these days on account of the kefir which likes it better than cows milk, don’t ask me why, I hated everything goat when I was a child but my tastes have changed over the years.

I divided the dough into 16 balls of 90 g about half the size suggested in Short and Sweet,  and baked them for exactly 10 minutes in a fan oven at 200 C.  The buns come out soft and light if you keep the bake short and hot. If you leave them in too long they get dry and tough,  so if in doubt pull them out of the oven. The rich colour is from the egg wash, don’t forget the egg wash!

Fri am : Adding a couple of crumb shots for Charlie @

Crumb shot Top Tea Cakes Dan Lepard Buderim Ginger IMG_1721

…and they defrost beautifully and toast like a dream….

Maybe it was the fresh yeast, maybe the goat's milk, who knows, these are the  lightest, and most melt in the mouth teacakes I have ever made!

Maybe it was the fresh yeast, maybe the goat’s milk, who knows, these are the lightest, and most melt in the mouth teacakes I have ever made!

Confessions of a Gibassier Groupie

GibassiersBaking buddies here is a post about these lovely Provencal sweet buns called Gibassiers which I have had my first go at baking inspired by the enthusiasm of Lynne who tweets as @josordoni and is a wonderful food blogger. They are a bit like brioche, but not as buttery, a bit like a doughnut, but not heavy, lighter than teacakes and really very good indeed.

Lynne has made these several times in the last month, and after a bit of hemming and hawing and hunting down ingredients on my part and a lot of encouragement from Lynne I had a go, along with  Thane Prince and Carla Tomasi on Twitter.

On the subject of orange blossom water, this brand, Cortas, is much much more pungent and flowery than the English variety. I sourced this at Bristol Sweet Mart, in St Marks Road in Easton, Bristol. Worth looking for if you can find it. As you open the bottle you are transported to a world where the sun shines and people hang out on dusty streets on humid nights and chat because it is too hot to go to bed. I reckon though that one could zest oranges, or use whatever you have to hand or can get hold of that makes you think of oranges.

There are a few recipes around, Lynne has tweaked hers over various bakes, you can read all about her experiments on her Greedy Piglet blog and she has very generously said I can write about it too, so here goes!

I have also bought Ciril Hitz’s book, Baking Artisan Pastries and Bread, the recipe has come from there, via The Fresh Loaf, and is reproduced in several places on the internet as well if you google. The book has loads of detail in it and some brilliant information about making laminated and sweet doughs and I am going to enjoy reading it and there is a DVD with it which I would love to be able to play for you, because it explains it all much better than I can. Bear in mind if you do this from this post that I have only made this once.

The day before you want to bake

Make a pre-ferment. This simply means mix up the following three ingredients and leave them covered overnight. The mix makes a firmish ball but it loosens and softens up once it has fermented.

  • ¼  – ½ tsp of dried yeast
  • 180 g of all pupose or bread flour
  • 110 g of milk

Day 2

Make a liquid mixture of:

  • 4 small eggs plus one yolk –  about 180g of shelled eggs  ( 2nd time made these used 130 g egg in total)
  • 80g of light olive oil (2nd time used 65 g olive oil)
  • 35 g of Cortas Orange blossom water but you will need more if you use a weaker one (2nd time used a mix of obw and dry Marsala wine, Carla’s suggestion)
  • 35 g warm water

NB: this is quite a lot of liquid and if you are not sure about your ability to work with a fairly wet dough then use less egg and less water, more like 150g of egg and 25 g of water as the original recipe.

Some recipes recommend warming all these together and that is probably a good idea. I whisked quite hot water into the top three ingredients and they didn’t curdle, but it might be safer just to heat very gently in a bowl on top of a pan of hot water… ?

In another bowl sift together

  • 200 g 00 flour or all purpose flour
  • 200 g bread flour
  • 100 g sugar
  • 6g salt
  • 12 g yeast – I used less yeast than Lynne but I am using that active instant sort which is very busy stuff (Second time used 10g yeast)

You might as well get the other stuff ready now too

  • 70 g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp of crushed aniseed seeds
  • 70g finely chopped candied orange peel

All the above are going in the dough

You will also need a bit later on in the proceedings :

  • some egg wash (this is a beaten egg and a bit of milk whisked together)
  •  about 100 g melted butter
  • a bowl of caster (fine) sugar to dredge the buns in once they have been baked. (Second time used granulated and it doesn’t stick so much or melt like the caster sugar does)

I am not the best person at being organized but on this occasion I did do a proper mise en place and got it all ready. The trouble with buns is that there are lots of processes and I run out of surfaces to put things on if I don’t make a bit of an effort. Note on flour: use what you have, don’t not make these because you don’t have 00 flour, use your regular bread flour just not the very strong baker’s sort.

I freely admit I didn’t handmix this so if you are going to do this by hand do read Lynne’s blog as she is very good at this and there are ways to do it that make it easier.

I used the Kenwood as I hate handmixing sticky doughs like these, but then I have become a bit of a wimp in these matters.

I put the liquid mix in the Kenwood, added the pre-ferment which I broke into small chunks and let it all mix up for a bit to loosen the preferment. Then I added the dry ingredients first and mixed them up till it looked plausible, probably for about three/four minutes, then added the softened butter bit by bit till it was all taken up by the dough and the dough was taking on a soft and silky look and feel, that takes a fair bit of time (and forms a gluten window – yes I did that the second time. The dough also gets lighter in colour once the butter is worked in properly, a good clue to look for ) and then finally sprinkled the seeds and the candied peel into the dough and worked that in too.

Then I left it all to rise in a covered bowl. Currently I am using my little top oven as a proving chamber. I open the door and the light comes on then I put the bowl in, and close the door but keep it open a crack by stuffing a tea towel or the oven gloves in the door. It reaches a temperature in there of about 24 – 26 C which is good enough for me.

After an hour and a half, it was huge and bubbly, a very excitable dough!  I floured a board, and pressed it out gently and then cut it up into 15 x 80 g chunks, quite big buns these were, you could make smaller or bigger or make it all as one big bread, or all sorts.

I rolled the pieces into balls and then started to shape them. If you have ever made fougasse or bagels you will know that any hole you cut or shape in a lively dough will fill in as it rises and again when it bakes, so be bold with your holes and don’t forget to stretch the shapes out sideways before you put them on your parchment lined trays to prove.

Gibassiers being cut and stretchedI flatten the balls into ovals and used a little cheese knife to make the cuts. I have just watched the bit on the DVD which comes with the book and it really shows it beautifully there, as well as what the dough should look like. Aha.

Here is one of my little drawings indicating where the cuts go. The ones in the middle you need to do with something fairly short that you can push directly into the dough, not a knife.  The edge cuts you can do with the edge of a dough scraper or a knife.

Leave to prove till they are nice and plump but not deflated, I left mine for another 40 minutes this time.

Eggwash the buns before you bake them in a hot but not too hot oven. I have funny settings on mine, my fan is about 10 degrees hotter than most people’s  (Neff Circotherm settings) so I baked mine on 170 C, look up the equivalent of Gas Mark 6 for your oven. Take them out when they are golden. I checked them after 12 minutes, I think I took them out after 15 minutes and maybe they could have come out earlier.

Paint them with melted butter while they are still hot, then let them cool down a little and dredge them in sugar. If you do the sugar bit while they are too hot, I did that with one lot, the sugar starts to melt.

Instagram Gibassiers

Share them out, give them away, save a couple for you and a friend, warm in the oven a little before you eat them. That’s it!

PS here is the last one being shared with Brian for breakfast yesterday, might have to make some more soon…

PPS Update:  For those of you who come back to read this again, I have been reading Ciril Hitz’s book and am learning new stuff about mixing these doughs. It’s very exciting and I’m going to have another go. If you look at the rounds of dough in the first photo you will see that they look a little greasy, I think that is because my butter was too warm when I mixed it into the dough. Ciril Hitz says that the butter should be pliable but cold, not warm when it is mixed in. So to do that you need to take a cold piece of butter and bash it with a rolling pin or something and then mix it in bit by bit, even putting the bowl back in the fridge if it looks like it is getting too hot.  I did say this was the first time I had made these didn’t I?

Update: I made them again the following week, hence all the notes in brackets. I am sorry if it confuses anyone actually trying to bake from this. Basically if you use less egg, less oil and cold  pliable butter, and knead for longer you get a more elastic dough which is slightly easier to shape and is more bread like and less brioche like.  I wanted to try both ways and see if I could see a difference. The only other very slight change I make is that I use the small amount of water to loosen the preferment in the mixing bowl before I add the other liquid ingredients. It just made sense to me to do that. I don’t intend to rewrite the post, but if you are seriously trying to make these then do ask if I have confused you or better still buy a copy of the book!

Here are a few photos from the second time I made them, a bit fuzzy, but they show the cutter I made second time round…

Cutter made from a dough scraper

Cutter made from a dough scraper


Cut bun before being stretched out gently

Cut bun before being stretched out gently


Stretching out the bun

Stretching out the bun

A shared Gibassier and some rare sunshine!

En liten kardemumma bulle vänligen

…which translates ( Google, don’t blame me) to ‘ a little cardamom bun please’

Yesterday was Swedish Bun Day according to Anna Brones and Johanna Kindvall who published a lovely post on yesterday afternoon. Johanna, who has a stunning blog of her own called Kokblog, tempted me to make these little buns (usually known as kanelbulle) and try and get them done before bedtime so I could eat them on the right day. Johanna has also been fermenting cider vinegar and foraging rosehips and it all looks so beautiful on her blog.

Johanna tweeted a link to where she and Anna Krones had published the recipe and I was overwhelmed with a desire to bake them. I haven’t baked any cardamom buns since the owl faced Tessa Kiros buns many blog moons ago and Brian has asked for buns all summer and none have been forthcoming.

Johanna also kindly gave me the gram weights for the flour and sugar as I am so very bad at using cups, being an English sort of cook. She will put them on her blog later (here’s the link)  on if you want to have a go at making these and like me falter at cups.

This is a nice easy dough to make, though getting the cardamom seeds out of their pods and crushed up was a bit of a palaver. I realised that the first lot of pods were old and stale and the seeds inside had almost vanished into brown dust, fortunately I had some fresher ones from Bristol Sweet Mart and I got there in the end.

FIGGJO FLINT TURI DESIGN CORSICA PLATE  The little plate is a present from Elaine and is from Norway.

If you don’t like cardamom then these buns are not really for you, but you could always flavour them with cinammon instead.

I have put half in the freezer as the recipe makes masses and Brian has gone off with a bagful to the SS Great Britain to do his volunteering – I ate five last night. A woman has to know her limitations.

I am sorry the blog posts are patchy these days, I think I have lost my blogging mojo a bit. If you ever venture onto Twitter you can find me there @zeb_bakes and sometimes I put photos on Instagram too. Why those social networks? There’s something loose and flowing about them that I like, not quite as formal and static as a blog or Facebook for that matter. Twitter’s torrent of chatter vanishes downstream at a great rate of knots and I quite like its ephemeral qualities.

But who knows? I may post some more now the autumn is here and life is more settled than it has been for a while. Sending you all love anyway and thanks for popping in – always appreciated.