Monday, November 25, 2013

Pumpkin-shaped, pumpkin-free buns

Damn you, Internet.

Someone, somewhere, on some group or timeline or feed or tweet posted a photo of some adorable buns made in the shape of pumpkins. And I said, awwwww, that's awesome and I went on my merry way.

But I couldn't get the idea of the buns out of my head. It seemed simple enough, even though I never saw the original recipe. I mean, I'm always baking bread. Or at least it seems like it.

I'd love to give credit to the originator of those pumpkin buns, but I have no idea if the photo was from a magazine, commercial site, or blog. It could have also been a dream. Because even though I don't bake in my sleep, I've been known to dream about bread. Yes, I'm serious.

I'm guessing (but don't really know) that the buns I saw (or dreamed about) had some pumpkin in them. I mean, that would make sense.

I decided I had to bake pumpkin-shaped buns, but I was all out of pumpkin, so instead I made a slightly sweet, rich bread.

Be forewarned that these take forever to rise if you start with cold ingredients. That's not a problem for me, but if you have things to do and don't want to have forever-slowly-rising dough sitting around, you can let the butter, egg, and sour cream get to room temperature, the add HOT water to get it all a little warmer before you introduce the yeast to the pool.

It's still going to be a slow riser since it's a rich dough, but at least you won't be waiting quite as long. Or, of course you can let it rise in a very warm place. I gave the dough some time in my oven on the proofing setting, and the second rise was sitting on top of the stove while it preheated.

Pumpkin-Shaped Buns

1 egg
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup hot water
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup (4 1/2 ounces) white whet flour
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) bread flour
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semolina flour
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
Egg wash (1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
8 walnut pieces

Combine the egg, sour cream, and water in the bowl of your stand mixer. Whisk to combine (this should get it closer to a lukewarm temperature.) Add the rest of the ingredients, except the egg wash and walnuts.

Knead with the dough hook until the dough is elastic.

Cover the bowl and set in a warm place to rise until doubled. Be prepared for a long wait.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Flour your work surface lightly and turn out the dough and divide it into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, then, using a sharp pair of scissors, cut 6-8 slits all the way through the dough around the edges of the dough, to within about an inch of the center.

Take a look a the photo - that might help make sense of it.

Place the dough on the prepared baking sheet and continue cutting the rest of them in the same way, arranging them on the baking sheet and leaving space between the buns for them to rise.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size. When you poke it gently with a fingertip, the dent should remain or fill in slowly, rather than bouncing back immediately. This should take about half the amount of time as the first rise.

When the buns have risen, brush them with the egg wash. You can opt to not brush the slashes, or brush the whole thing.

Poke the walnut piece - I used halves of walnut halves - into the center of the dough to make the "stem" of the pumpkins. Don't be afraid to push them down - if  you don't embed them well there's a chance they'll fall out as the dough rises. And, it's fine if the buns have a slight indent in the center after they're baked.

Bake at 350 degrees until the buns are nicely browned, about 20-25 minutes. Remove them from the pan and let them cool completely on a rack.

Breaking news! Someone gave me the original link to the photo I saw. Check 'em out on Beyond Kimchee!

Check out the sweet board I got from Pink Monogram:

The board is generously sized - it's the large one that measures 15.74" by 11.8" by .15" and sells for $60 on the site. Pretty awesome, right?

The boards are sold as cutting boards, but I'm much more likely to use it as a backdrop for photos and for serving. Like this:

Want to know more about Pink Monogram? Here ya go:

Disclaimer: I was given a board at no charge by Pink Monogram; I also ran a giveaway for them that has now ended.