I have been working at perfecting my Christmas Bun recipe and with these beauties I think I finally have it. Baking them will make your whole house smell like Christmas, and then you get the joy of eating them too. If you’re not feeling festive yet then I urge you to get in the kitchen, put on some Christmas Carols and bake yourself into feeling merry.
The filling is a combination of brown sugar, booze-soaked currants, orange zest and an array of spices that would usually be at home in a pot of mulled wine. Any residual rum from the soaking goes into making the bun glaze so nothing is wasted and the buns end up tasting like a ‘winter warmer’ (code for festive drink in my house.)
I used a large round cake tin instead of the usual square one to bake the buns in. I like to serve them all together, each bun still clinging to its neighbours, and think it looks pretty when they are aligned in this crown-like formation.
The bun dough may seem quite delicate but it is actually pretty forgiving. Don’t worry if it gets a bit squished after you roll it up and cut it into slices. Once they are left for the second prove they will spread out to fill the space, forgiving any dents and not look quite so small and puny.
It goes without saying that you are free to customise the filling according to your tastes (or what ingredients you already have in the cupboard). Follow the recipe for the ultimate Mulled Wine taste and aroma but sub in any other dried fruit or spices you have available should you wish!
Mulled Wine Spiced Buns
Makes: 10 buns
Prep time: 30 minutes plus 1 hour 30 rising time
Baking time: 25 minutes
- 250ml non-dairy milk (I used almond)
- 4 tbsp vegan butter, softened
- 2 tbsp caster sugar
- 1 packet (7g) fast action yeast
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 350-400g plain flour
- 150g raisins
- 60ml rum, brandy or other spirit of choice -cointreau would be nice
- 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tbsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 75g icing sugar
- Sugar pearls to decorate (optional)
- Heat the milk, half the butter and the caster sugar in a saucepan on a low heat until the milk is warm and butter and sugar have dissolved. You can take it off the heat before the butter has melted as the heat from the milk will continue to melt it. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- While the milk is cooling measure out 350g of the flour into a bowl and add the yeast and salt and mix to combine. Check that the milk has cooled to body temperature and then add to the bowl with the flour, mixing quickly with a wooden spoon into a dough. If it looks too wet add in a few more tablespoons of flour. It will be very soft in texture – not like a bread dough. Turn out on to a floured surface and give a few gentle kneads to bring together. You’re not trying to stretch it out – just a few turns to combine.
- Give the bowl a quick wipe and place the dough inside, cover with cling film and put in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size, 45 mins – 1 hour.
- Meanwhile place your raisins in a bowl and cover with the rum. Place in the microwave for 30 seconds – 1 minute, give a quick stir and place to one side. The heat helps the fruit to absorb the liquid.
- When the dough has risen dust the surface with flour and tip out of the bowl. Knead the dough gently together, knocking the air out of it. It will be very soft and a little sticky, add a little more flour as needed. Roll out the dough into a rough rectangle around 35cm x 50cm. Don’t worry too much if it’s not a perfect rectangle!
- Set the currants to drain, keeping hold of any excess liquid.
- Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegan butter onto the dough and sprinkle over the spices and brown sugar. I find it easier to mix the sugar and spices together in a bowl first to ensure equal distribution but it’s not essential. Grate over the zest of the orange and sprinkle the currants evenly on top.
- Starting on the long edge nearest you, start to tightly roll the dough up gently into a long sausage. Cut the dough into slices using a sharp knife. I make about 11 slices, including the ends (I bake these separately in ramekins). Place the buns into a greased tin, leaving space between each bun so they have room to rise.
- Cover and leave to rise for 25-35 minutes. Preheat oven to 180 °C.
- Once the buns are risen (they should have puffed up so they’re touching) place the tin in the oven for 25-30 minutes, by which time they should be golden on top and feel slightly soft in texture underneath when prodded.
- While the buns cool, make the glaze by mixing the icing sugar with the reserved soaking liquid from the currants, adding a little more water if necessary to get the icing to the right consistency to drip over the buns.
- Once they are completely cool, cover with the glaze, scatter over sugar decorations if you have any and eat 2 immediately. Store in an airtight container.