This is a really fluffy spicy easter bun, where the spice flavours are derived from infused chai tea and a ginger spiced glaze. It has come about after a bit of trial and error that was completely worth it - with a really tall bun. In fact my final bit of inspiration came from watching Mary Berry make buns last night where she suggested a double rise. Brilliant!
There is fruit as an option, this time in the form of dates which I feel marry really well with chai spices, but feel free to add other bits and pieces (I’m thinking white chocolate might work well, maybe even preserved ginger)
It is of course a shame to only eat these at Easter, just leave off the cross and enjoy year round.
3 teaspoons chai tea (I used T2 organic tea)
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or essence
600g Tipo 00 or strong bread flour
10 g instant yeast
65g raw sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
zest of one lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g chopped dates
For bun crosses:
100g plain flour
cold water to make a thick paste (about 100-120ml)
For the bun glaze:
100g raw sugar
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
8 cardamon pods
6-8 white peppercorns
1 piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into slices
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Extra butter or oil to grease the tray
Start by making the chai tea mixture:
In a small saucepan, heat the milk and tea together with the vanilla. Bring to boil then allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the milk and measure the amount. You will need 215ml. If there is not enough milk, top up with a little more, and if there is too much, decant some off.
Stir in the honey and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.
For the dough:
In a large mixing bowl combine the flour with the yeast using a whisk.
Use a spoon to make a well in the centre.
Add the eggs, sugar, chai honey milk mixture, and lemon zest. Scatter the salt around the outside.
Knead the dough mixture together using a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Knead at medium speed for around 6 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
With the mixer still running, add the softened butter piece by piece and knead it in until the dough is smooth and a little shiny.
Empty into a large oiled bowl and cover with glad wrap.
Allow the dough to prove in a warm place until double. (about an hour)
Knock it back down, then prove again until doubled in size (another hour)
While the dough is proving make the glaze:
In a small saucepan, mix the sugar, water, honey and spices. Heat gently and bring to boil. Boil the mixture until it has thickened a little and is syrupy. (just a minute of two). Take of heat and allow everything to infuse.
To shape the buns:
Empty the dough onto a clean bench.
If using, mix in the chopped dates.
Divide into 70g balls (this will make 16 buns) or make bigger or smaller buns if preferred.
Cover the balls with a damp towel while rolling them to stop them drying out.
Roll each ball on the bench by firstly pinching the dough together on one side then using your palm to shape the dough into a ball on the bench with the pinched side down.
Arrange the buns on a sided tray - I used a square non stick brownie pan (from Bakemaster).
Cover with a damp tea towel and allow to prove in a warm place until the buns have visibly risen but still bone back when pressed lightly (around half an hour).
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius - fan forced to start. Place a pan of water at the base of the oven.
Make the cross mixture while you are waiting:
Mix together the flour and water until you have a thick, pipe-able paste.
Empty into a disposable piping bag or ziplock bag, then snip off the tip (or a corner of the ziplock bag) just big enough to pipe out a line of paste. It’s easier to snip off a bit at a time until you have the thickness you desire.
Brush the risen buns generously with milk.
Pipe on lines of flour paste to form crosses (or leave the crosses off any other time of year)
Turn the oven down to 180 degrees celsius.
Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden.
Brush the hot buns generously with the spiced glaze and serve.