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Thursday, November 3, 2016

November ABC challenge: pumpkin buns

This is the Avid Baker's Challenge second foray into pumpkin buns.  The first, a King Arthur recipe, were excellent and set the bar high.

I've had trouble with this source's recipes, particularly with getting the right texture, and this one was no exception.  I'll give them a pass on this one, though, because I substituted half of the flour for whole wheat.  And since I didn't have bread flour handy, I used AP flour and threw in some high gluten flour.  I also cut the recipe in half.

Here's what I used.  Deviations from half the recipe are shown in italics and strikeout.  Yield 6 buns:

500 120g bread whole wheat flour 
130g all-purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons high gluten flour
5g instant yeast
4 5g salt
100g pumpkin puree 
1/2 egg (medium)
25 g honey
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves)
35g+ lukewarm water

25g unsalted butter, softened
water and raw cane granulated sugar to coat the buns (or coat with egg wash)
6 pecan pieces to be used as stalks on your pumpkins after baking

Ingredients should be at warm room temperature, including the pumpkin puree.  Add all the ingredients except the water and butter into a large bowl and blend together.  Add 3/4 of the water and see how the dough comes together, adding more water as necessary.  (I added at least twice the amount called for.)  Knead for 10 minutes, then add the softened butter in 3 stages and knead for another 5 minutes until dough is slightly sticky and silky smooth.  (When you touch it with your finger it should stick to the dough for just a second, like it would to a post-it note.)

Shape the dough into a ball, put it in a greased bowl, cover and leave to rest for 60 minutes in a warm place (24°C / 75°F).  Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape them into balls. Cover with floured clingfilm and leave to rest for 15 minutes.  With a knife or dough cutter, make eight cuts from the edge towards the center, about 1.5" long, dividing the bun into eight segments. Make a hole in the center with your index finger, all the way down to the bottom, so it will not disappear during proofing and baking.  Place the buns on a greased baking tray; brush each bun with water and sprinkle with the cane sugar.  Cover and leave to proof for at least 90 minutes in a warm place.  Bake at 355°F for 15 minutes until orange-golden. (If you think the buns have the right color, you can reduce the temperature to 300°F after 8 to 10 minutes, so they will not get too dark.)  Cool slightly before adding the pecan segments.  Serve with the salted maple butter.

Salted maple butter
50g salted butter 
17g maple syrup

Add the maple syrup to softened butter and beat or stir into a smooth consistency. Rechill until firm but not hard, or shape into a log and wrap tightly.

Conclusion: Well, I've had better, but I'm not sure the recipe was entirely at fault.  These were rather dense, so I guess I didn't let them rise long enough.  I think using half whole wheat flour would normally work fine, but the flour I used wasn't the freshest and the buns had a slightly bitter taste.  But I think they could have used a stronger pumpkin flavor, and more spice.  (But again, the spices weren't very fresh either.  I used more to compensate, but like flour, spices get bitter with age and lose their sweetness.)  I had questioned brushing them with water, especially before rising, and as expected they had a weird dryness on top from the "pastiness", like I'd spread them with a flour/water paste.  Not sure why they didn't recommend milk.

Recipe:  Pumpkin Buns with Salted Maple Butter via Weekend Bakery

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