Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lovey Buns

So it’s coming around to mid-February, which can only mean two things: one, that the Superbowl and all it’s over-priced ads, is over and done with and two, that the freakishly pink and chocolate-inundated Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Though I have nothing against the lovebirds that flock to the bistros and flower shops this time of year, the sheer prevalence of chocolate and jewellery filling the stores these days is always a bit of an amusement factor for me. After all, Saint Valentine was clubbed stoned and finally beheaded after trying the whole religious conversion trick (a common practice for the priesthood, even today) on the Roman emperor who imprisoned him for being Christian in the first place. Now, I don’t know about you, but not only does that story sound like an absolutely horrible excuse to indulge in the excesses marketed by Hallmark, but it also makes me wonder about the intelligence of this Saint in the first place. I mean really – if you had been arrested and thrown in an ancient Roman prison for simply helping any Christian countrymen, why on earth would you then go to the guy in charge of that law in the first place and say “hey, how about accepting this Saviour and atoning for your sins”?

But anyway, that’s just me. What matters is that the big V-day is nigh, and that means no shortage of talk about the amorous things in life. Not only are serenades and massages on the menu these days, but many of the infamous culinary aphrodisiacs come out to play (pardon the term!). I didn’t bake these rolls in any way to tout their love-sparking properties, but I suppose the super-saturation of popular culture and marketing that’s present these days got to me. Somehow I managed to knead three separate aphrodisiac agents into this dough – but there’s a reason why so many of the world’s “foods of love” are teamed up in culinary execution. After all, the taste of honey and figs is a hard one to beat, and wine-soused berries with a grating of chocolate on a dessert menu is not usually turned down! Heck, if you wanted to really jack up the love potential of these babies, a handful of chopped dark chocolate and some almond extract would be stellar additions!

It's even heart shaped!

For me, though, I’ll stick with the figs, honey and olive oil... and pass these morsels of decadence onto Susan’s YeastSpotting event this week.

Fig and Olive Oil Buns
Makes 12
2 pkg instant yeast
2 cups flour
3 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup 12-grain flour
2 tsp vital wheat gluten
¾ cup warm buttermilk
¼ cup warm water (reserved from soaking figs) plus
½ cup warm water
2 tbsp honey
370 g fig paste (see below for recipe)
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together yeast, flours and gluten.
  2. Add buttermilk, fig water, extra water, honey and fig paste.
  3. Mix with the dough hook about 2 minutes, until incorporated, then add the salt and olive oil and continue kneading on medium speed until elastic, about 10 minutes.
  4. Cover and let rest 40 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into balls, place on a lined baking sheet and mist lightly with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 1 ½ hours.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  7. Bake 20 minutes, cool on a wire rack.
Fig Paste
1 ½ cups dried figs (any variety), halved
1 ¼ cups water, plus extra if needed
½ tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer.
  2. Partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally, 20-30 minutes, until the figs are beginning to fall apart – add water by the tablespoon if the mixture is too dry.
  3. Remove ¼ cup cooking water for the bread dough and scrape remaining mixture into a small food processor.
  4. Puree to a paste.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 315.1
Total Fat: 3.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.6 mg
Sodium: 21.0 mg
Total Carbs: 64.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 8.0 g
Protein: 10.2 g

1 comment :

manju said...

Looks delish as is, but I also like your suggestion to up the ante with the chocolate and nuts too!