I had the urge to do some serious baking yesterday and I wanted fruit toast for this morning's breakfast. After searching through the latest editions of my food magazines I settled on one for fruit bread but I didn't like their bread component. I have not had the best luck with different bread recipes lately so I went to a tried and fabulous favourite of mine, Ree's cinnamon bread. Once you've mastered a basic white bread so many other delicious things can be made from it like hot cross buns.
The reason I've make my buns using figs and blueberries is because that's all we had in the house.
250g mixed dried fruit (I used dried blueberries and figs)
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup milk
6 tablespoons butter
2 packets yeast
3 1/2 cups plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 heaped teaspoon mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
Chop the fruit so it is all the same size. I chopped my figs to the size of the blueberries. Soak in the orange juice and leave for 30 or so minutes. The fruit needs to have absorbed most of the liquid and be nice and soft. Drain off the liquid and set the fruit aside.
In a saucepan heat the milk and butter until the butter has melted. Do not let it boil. When the butter has melted, turn the heat off and let it cool until skin hot. Too hot or too cold and your yeast won't work! When it's cool enough to stick your finger in sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 10 minutes. This will activate the yeast.
In a separate bowl mix together then flour, salt and spices. Set aside.
Beat the eggs and sugar together in another bowl until combined. Add the milk and yeast mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Add in half the flour and mix until the flour is incorporated. At this point it is best to switch to a wooden spoon if you haven't already.
Beat in the remaining flour and stir until a soft dough has formed.
Tip dough out onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is a ball. Flatten the dough into a rectangle and spread the fruit down one edge. Fold up the dough around the fruit and knead until the fruit is evenly distributed and the dough itself is elastic. I found that at this point the blueberries were popping out of the dough.
Stick the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with cling wrap and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. I partly fill a sink with tap hot water and stick the bowl in there covered with a bread board and tea towel.
Knock the dough down and divide into 12 even pieces. Roll each into balls and slash the top in a cross. Place on a tray and let them rise again for about 30 minutes.
Mix together enough flour and water to form a paste and pipe crosses on each bun.
Pop them into a preheated 180-200C oven for 20-30 minutes until the bottoms are sound hollow when tapped.
If you like the tops sticky then whilst they are still warm brush the tops with water that has had 2 tsp of sugar dissolved in it.