As Joey would say, buns – good, jam – good, cream – good, iced buns – pretty good. Ok, it may not be a direct quote but the Friends fans out there will know what I’m talking about. As someone that loves all things bread and sugar, I was pretty pumped about this bake. Seriously, I think the best meal you can have is bread and butter. Add into that mix some sugary goodness and things can only get better right? Well if you like a whipped cream sandwich you’re right. If you think whipped cream on a very soft hot dog bun is a little different then you and I are in the same boat.
I’m getting ahead of myself. First I have to tell you how I made these unique little guys.
Step one was making the buns/fingers. This was my first experience making an enriched dough. As I’ve learned from Bake Off, and countless youtube videos, an enriched dough is a dough with eggs, butter and milk. Supposedly the fat coats the gluten strands and makes for a soft crumb. I was never very good at science so I can’t offer you much more than that but I can tell you I added in all the fat and eggs Paul prescribed.
Whether from all the enriching or just because this is a higher hydration dough this mixture was sticky. The initial ball of dough was very wet and hard to knead. Not quite Focaccia level sticky but quite close. The recipe does allow you to knead with flour (something I thought Paul was adamantly against), which did help. Am I the only one that wishes the recipe would specify how much flour can be used during kneading? I know proper bakers can just tell by the feel of the dough how much flour to add but for someone that just feels like there is a giant ball of dough stuck to them some further instructions would be helpful. I tried to tread the fine line between keeping the dough from sticking to me and not over flouring. After just a few minutes and not too much extra flour I got a nice dough ball.
I left my enriched dough to rise for an hour. One of my biggest takeaways from doing these bakes has been to pay closer attention to my timing. In the past when I would have to let dough rise for an hour I would put it to the side do some other things and go back to check on it when the thought occurred to me. It could be 45minutes, 2 hours or longer, I don’t know. Now I set the timer and actually check on the dough at the appropriate time. I know it’s not rocket science but I really think it has helped me up my baking game. So after and hour, I had a perfectly puffy dough that I got to work shaping into “fingers” precisely 5 inches long.
My fingers fit nicely onto the baking tray and I set my timer for the next rise. Iced fingers are supposed to touch just slightly when they bake so they get the tears on the side. This is the “batch bake” look that Paul talks about in the episode. I just crossed my fingers that the rise and bake would transform my individual fingers into one big batch bake family. And it worked! Some were a little more friendly than others but I think it worked out pretty well.
The next day I went about mixing my icing for the top of the buns. I have to take issue with the recipe at this point. The proportions of the glaze were WAY off! I mixed 200g of icing sugar with 5 tbsp of water and I got a watery mess! There is no way that was the same recipe they used on the show, they were able to pipe their glaze and mine would have streamed right out of the bag. So I dumped in an indeterminate amount of extra icing sugar and started dipping. Even with a pile of extra sugar, the glaze was closer to what you would get on a honey dip doughnut (or Krispy Kreme for the American’s out there) than anything like the opaque glaze shown in the pictures. Also, it got everywhere!
Determined not to give up I forged ahead with my lightly glazed buns. My Mom is a jam-making fiend and luckily I had a jar of her fresh strawberry jam for the filling. Now I have to confess I am a newly converted jam lover and I am still in the honeymoon phase of the jam-Jess relationship. I basically can’t get enough! So I may have put a little more jam than absolutely necessary on the buns. Liberally jammed, I filled the fingers with cream and it was time for the taste test!
Picture note – there is glaze on that bun it has just been totally absorbed into the dough.
So how did they taste? As I said, all the components were great, but the sum of the parts was a little odd. Not so odd that I haven’t since eaten multiple buns. The bun itself was about as sweet as a generic hot dog bun (which probably has more sugar in it than necessary) and I think I was expecting something more definitively desserty. But I have to say the buns were so soft! I have never made anything so light and fluffy from scratch before so I was proud of my result. Paul and Mary probably would have taken issue with my presentation but I don’t think anyone can argue that I didn’t produce an iced finger!