It’s always a joy to be invited to demonstrate at a food festival and a real buzz to share my love for homemade bread to an audience from up on stage. I do my best to make every single demonstration special and for this year’s Cakes and Desserts theatre at the Foodies Festivals in Brighton and Syon Park I’m making these yummy buns.
Challenged with making something sweet (which I don’t often do) and using chocolate products from Foodies sponsors, Food Thoughts, I have come up with the ultimate chocolate orange knot bun. Inside is dark chocolate and an orange zest butter, and for the topping I wanted to make a super crunchy, sweet and salty mixture to contrast the soft and sweet bun. I used toasted and salted pumpkin seeds, pearl sugar and natural cacao nibs for the topping which and have a slightly bitter note and have a crunch that’s hard to beat.
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Chocolate Orange Knot Buns
This recipe is an enriched dough, that means butter, milk and eggs, and because of that expect the rising to take a little longer than your standard bread dough.
Be sure to microwave your milk a little, just enough to take off the chill from the fridge.
This recipe will make 15 Knot Rolls
My Kitchen Temperature: 20°C/68°F
Start to finish: 5.5 hours
For the Dough
100g Room temperature milk
20g Fresh yeast or 10g dry yeast
1 Medium egg
250g Strong white bread flour
35g Golden caster sugar
35g Soft unsalted butter
For the filling
50g Soft unsalted butter
40g Golden caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
50g Chopped Dark Chocolate
For the icing
Juice and pulp of 1 orange
Around 300g of icing sugar (see method)
50g Pumpkin seeds
50g Food Thoughts Natural Cacao Nibs
50g Pearl sugar
A pinch of salt
Making the Dough
1. In a large mixing bowl weigh your yeast, add the milk and whisk together until the yeast is dissolve.
2. Next add the egg, flour, salt, and sugar. Break up the butter into pieces and add that too.
3. Mix everything with your dough scraper until it comes together into a rough dough and then turn it out onto a clean table. Knead your dough well for 8 minutes. Then, shape it into a ball, place it back into the bowl to rest with a cloth on top for 1 ½ - 2 hours.
Making the Filling
4. While you are waiting you can make the orange butter for your filling. Cream together the butter, sugar, and zest until it’s light and fluffy. You can do this in a mixer with a silicone beater if you like, but it’s such a small amount that I usually beat it in a bowl by hand with a stiff silicon spatula. Keep beating until it’s aerated and super soft, this will make it easier to spread later on. Set this butter aside.
Filling and Shaping
5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper ready for later. When your dough has risen nicely, turn it out of the bowl onto a floured surface. Dust the top of the dough, press it with your fingers to flatten and roll it out into a 35cm square with a rolling pin.
6. Use the flat edge of your dough scraper to spread your soft orange butter in an even layer all over the dough, right up to all edges. Next sprinkle your chopped chocolate pieces all over the butter as evenly as you can and press slightly with your palms so that they stick. Fold the dough in half from the top edge and roll very gently over the top with your rolling pin, just enough to flatten slightly, neaten it up and stick the two parts together.
7. With a knife or pizza wheel, cut the dough vertically into three wide strips. Then cut each strip into five more strips, one per bun.
8. One by one pick up your strips with your fingers holding them at each end. Carefully stretch and twist the strip of dough and wrap one end round the other in a circle two times. Then pass the remaining strip underneath finally wrapping it once more over the top. Tuck the end underneath and place on your parchment lined tray. At this stage feel free to have a play with your knots, it’s not essential that you do them exactly like mine, but you will find that doing them the same as each other makes a big difference to the overall look of your rolls if that’s important to you!
9. Repeat with the rest of your dough strips ending up with 15 knot buns spaced out across two trays with plenty of room to expand.
10. Cover your buns loosely with cling film and allow 1-2 hours for them to rise up, becoming lighter, softer, and much more delicate to the touch. At some point during this time, preheat the oven to 180°C Fan/Gas Mark 5.
Baking and Finishing
11. Bake your knot buns for 8-12 minutes until golden. Slide a knife underneath and lift a bun, if it’s golden underneath then it’s ready. If they are still a little pale return them to the oven for two minutes at a time until they are ready. Cool them on a wire rack.
12. Now to mix up the icing. Squeeze the juice of an orange into a bowl over some scales, use the orange pulp too. Whatever the juice and pulp weighs in grams, multiply that number by four and add four times it’s weight in icing sugar. Mix together to get a smooth icing.
13. Toast your pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat. As they start to pop add a pinch of salt and sprinkle some water in with your fingers. You need just a little water, enough to sizzle and dissolve the salt so it will stick to the seeds. Too much water will mean your seeds will boil a become chewy. Continue toasting until the seeds are lightly golden and popped. Set them aside to cool.
14. Mix your toasted seeds with your nibs and pearl sugar.
15. Pick up a bun and turn it over. First dip it upside down into your orange icing, lift it and allow any excess to drip off back into the bowl before dipping into your topping mixture. Turn it back over and place back onto the cooling rack. Repeat to finish all your other buns.
16. Let your buns rest on the cooling rack and the icing will dry and go crunchy. Eat.