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No-knead bread: Sticky-finger buns

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The last cinnamon rolls I made were light and could be eaten any time. Not these ones...

One is fine, two is pushing your luck, three and you're on your own...
A recipe for Banana Cinnamon Bread from Cookistry gave me the idea to try my own version of a yeasted banana bread. I actually started out using that recipe but when the dough remained wet even after I had added more flour, I decided to take another route to making the bread. I'm sure there's nothing wrong with the recipe from Cookistry ­­– it calls for bread flour and I only had all-purpose and I think that is what did my dough in.

But no harm done; I went with the no-knead method popularised by baker Jim Lahey and writer Mark Bittman, but also perfected by others such as Nancy Baggett, whose book Kneadlessly Simple often serves as my reference. The sticky bun recipe that follows is an amalgamation of the various recipes from Cookistry, Lahey and Baggett.

For those familiar with the no-knead method, you will know that very little instant yeast is used. There were already 3 teaspoons of yeast, as called for in Cookistry's recipe, mixed into the dough so I couldn't change the recipe midway. It did make the dough rise faster ­­– you don'­­t want that ­­– so next time, I'll use just 1 teaspoon (as listed in the recipe below) for the long-rising method. This recipe is off to Yeastspotting.

These buns really live up to their sticky name ­­– they start out as a wet, sticky dough and end up as tender bread with gooey glistening tops.

Crunchy, sticky, tender
½ cup tepid water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
¼ cup caster sugar
½ cup mashed overripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
¼ cup strained yoghurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped dates (or raisins)
12 teaspoons molasses (or golden syrup)

Streusel topping
This makes a fair bit of streusel and you may not want to use all of it. The leftover can be frozen in an airtight container.
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, chopped
½ cup toasted almonds (preferably with skin on), chopped
  • Place water, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Combine mashed bananas, yoghurt and vanilla extract and add to yeast mixture. Add the flour and salt and stir until combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave at room temperature or in the refrigerator until surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12-18 hours.
  • When the first rise is complete, make the streusel topping. Combine the flour, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, a fork or two butter knives until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in the nuts. Set aside.
  • Vigorously stir the dates into the dough until fairly evenly distributed. Grease a twelve ½-cup muffin pan. Fill each cup with 1 teaspoon molasses and divide the streusel mixture between the cups (this may look like a lot but it gives the the buns their definitive brown and sticky tops). Dust the dough slightly and divide it into 12 equal portions (use well-oiled kitchen scissors if necessary); lay the pieces into the muffin pan and cover with a tea towel. Let rise at room temperature until dough doubles in size.
  • Risen and ready for the oven
  • Preheat oven to 180°C 15 minutes before baking time. Bake on the lower rack until top is nicely browned, 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer comes out with only a few particles. Remove to a wire rack, cover with a tea towel and leave pan to cool slightly, 5 minutes. Run a knife around the buns to loosen. Place a large baking tray against the muffin tin and invert the tin; shake to remove the buns ­­– the bottoms are now the tops. Scrape out any topping that remains in the tin and place on the buns. Transfer buns to a serving plate. They are best eaten hot and fresh.
Note: The sugar in the topping will crystallise when the buns are refrigerated. Warm them in the oven before eating.


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