Pushing, pulling and pummelling. Squeezing, stretching and slapping. Folding, flattering and forming*
No matter your technique, kneading dough is one of the most cathartic acts of baking.
So much so, it was recently the subject of a Radio 4 'Food Programme'. Sheila Dillon met with a group of refugees who used baking in their recovery, exploring the spiritual and therapeutic value of bread making.
For me, the day's inevitable frustrations and worries are soothed away during a time that can be used for a little peace and reflection. The gluten takes the brunt of your strains and stresses. And after ten minutes of kneading you're left with a satisfyingly weary ache in your arms and a smooth, well stretched dough.
Be warned though- Baker boys in eighteenth century Paris were known as 'The Groaners' for their pitiful cries after hours upon hours of back-breaking kneading.
A couple of hours later the irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread fills every nook and cranny of your home. Cathartic, creative and very delicious- it's no wonder home bread baking remains as popular as ever.
Baking these Lemon Iced Buns brought back many childhood memories of choosing sticky buns fresh from the Baker's Van, which would call weekly at home. Big trays would emerge from the back of the van filled with Custard Slices, Macaroons, Eclairs and all manner of tempting cream cakes. But without fail I'd choose the Iced Bun. I still love them. In homage to my eight year old sweet toothed-self, here's my home made version.
Lemon Iced Buns
250g strong white flour
25g caster sugar
7g fast acting yeast
1 tsp salt
20g softened, unsalted butter
1 free range egg
Zest of 1 lemon
75ml warm milk
100g sifted icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7. Grease a baking sheet.
2. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the ingredients and add the butter, egg, zest and milk. Bring the ingredients together using a wooden spoon and gradually add the water until a soft dough is formed. NB: this is quite a wet dough
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around ten minutes until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a clean, dry large bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise for one hour in a warm place
4. Divide the dough into six equal sized pieces and form into long fingers
5. Place the buns on the prepared baking sheet, allowing space for them to double in size and leave to rise for a further forty-five minutes or until they are just lightly touching each other on the tray
6. Bake for ten minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack
7. For the icing: place the sifted sugar into a large bowl. Gradually add the lemon juice until a smooth thick icing is formed. Dip the cooled buns into the icing.
- This is based on Paul Hollywood's Iced Fingers recipe
- For the buns, I used flour sent to me the lovely team at Marriage's Millers
- My husband and I had a lengthy discussion on the merits of a custard filling to an Iced Bun. I was vehemently against 'ruining' such a classic bake. Any thoughts would be gratefully received to restore marital harmony
- This is my entry to this month's Tea Time Treats, alternatively hosted by myself and Karen from Lavender and Lovage. There's still just about time to enter. The theme is: Bread!
Of course, there are there proponents of the 'no-knead' method (hello Dan Lepard!).
* Just to confirm, I'm talking about bread here, not the new '50 Shades of Grey'