Cardamom & Maple Brioche Buns

IMG_6839My very wonderful grandparents gave me some individual fluted brioche moulds for Christmas last year (niche baking equipment is the way to my heart, FYI Ryan Gosling) – and it took me this long to get round to using them. I christened them with a twist on my usual brioche recipe: cardamom and maple. Cardamom is one of those  flavours, along with rosewater, that make Paul Hollywood do that “do you really think that’s a good idea?” face on Bake Off (clue, it’s not), but luckily my housemates aren’t such fussy judges.

I used whole pods, lightly toasted to release the oils, to infuse the milk and brushed the finished buns in maple syrup. The result is a fragrant, sweet but still breakfast-appropriate flavour that has something wonderfully gin-like about it (but then I think Diet Coke has aftertaste of carrots, so don’t take my word for it), and the contrast between the crisp, sweet crust and the soft, fluffy dough is quite something. Plus the fluted shape is a brilliantly simple way to make something Parisian-patisserie-window-worthy with minimal effort, which, let’s face it, is what we’re all after really.

Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour
7g salt
50g caster sugar
10g easy bake yeast
140ml milk (full fat gives the roundest flavour)
4 cardamom pods
5 medium eggs
250g unsalted butter, softened
130ml maple syrup
Demerara or pearl sugar, for coating

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Method

We’re going to follow the same process as my Chocolate Brioche Tear & Share loaf for the first few steps. So, put the flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook and add the salt and sugar to one side and the yeast to the other.

Toast the cardamom pods in a small saucepan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes to release the oils, then reduce the heat and add the milk. Heat it gently, stirring occasionally, for a couple of minutes, never letting it boil, so that the cardamom has a chance to infuse. Remove from the heat.

Add the infused milk and eggs to the mixer and beat on a low speed (about 4 on a KitchenAid) for 2 minutes, then on medium (about 6 on a KitchenAid) for a further 8, until your dough is soft and glossy.

Add the butter and mix for another 5 minutes until the butter is incorporated, then tip the dough into a large mixing bowl (no need to grease due to the butter content), cover with cling film and chill overnight, or for about 7 hours.

When the dough is cooled and firm enough to shape, take the dough from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Fold it over a few times to knock back, then divide into 12 equally-sized pieces (if you don’t have any, it will also work in the tear-and-share style – divide into 9) . For matching buns, weigh each piece to make sure that they’re within 10g of each other.

Shape each piece into a ball by cupping your hands around it on the work surface and turning quickly, folding any join into the bottom. Lightly grease your brioche flutes and place a ball in each.

Cover with a plastic bag and leave to prove at room temperature for 2-3 hours, until the dough has risen to the top of the tin.

Twenty minutes before you’re ready, preheat the oven to 170°C fan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning after the first 10 minutes for a more even bake if necessary, until the buns are golden brown and crisp. Leave for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.

Spread a thin layer of demerara sugar on a plate. When the buns are cool enough to handle comfortably, use a silicone pastry brush (worth investing in to avoid getting stray bristles on your bakes) to coat the tops and sides of the buns. The coating will be easier when the buns are still a little warm, or, if they are completely cool, heat the maple syrup for a couple of seconds in the microwave to ease it. Finish each bun by lightly rolling the top in the sugar, topping up the plate as necessary.

These are best served fresh with butter and jam or compote, but can be salvaged when they’re a few days old with a quick burst in the microwave.

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