This is a revised (and smaller) version of the HoneyBuns recipe I created when as a change from my usual run of savory breads. I found the original recipe made twelve huge buns, and as we’re all on diets now… This sweet bread combines saffron and honey to make a tea-cake – a cross between yeasted bread and cake. You can add cardamom or marzipan to make it even better for teatime. It keeps well, and is excellent toasted with unsalted butter or cream cheese.
100g hot water
5g (1 tsp) dried yeast
100g levain (starter) or poolish
6g kosher salt
generous pinch of saffron
(optional) 1 tsp ground cardamom
1 large egg, plus ½ egg for the egg wash
35g olive oil
250g organic all-purpose flour or half-and-half bread flour and all-purpose
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, stir up the honey and hot water, then add the saffron, levain, and yeast. Stir well, then set aside in a warm place until the mixture is bubbly. While waiting, measure out the flours, salt, and (optional) ground cardamom together.
With an electric hand mixer, beat the egg and oil into the yeast mixture; add the flour and beat until all the flour is incorporated. Add a little more hot water if required to make a wet dough. Cover with plastic wrap sprayed with oil or Pam; set aside in a warm place for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle your counter with flour, tip out the dough, and knead vigorously for five minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Pop into a clean oiled bowl, cover with plastic and set in the fridge to rise overnight.
In the morning, bring up to room temperature, punch down, then cut into 10 pieces of 50g each. Roll into little rectangles, and let rest for 20 minutes.
Roll out each rectangle a bit bigger, then roll lengthways into tubes; you can spread a bit of marzipan down the middle of each piece before rolling up. Bring the ends together and pinch together with a little water. Lay them around the edge of your pan – I used a 10” springform pan, with eight round the edge and two in the middle. Cover and let rise.
Twenty minutes before you want to bake the bread, preheat the oven to 400°F/190°C. If using a baking stone, put it on the middle shelf with an old cast iron frying pan in the bottom of the oven. Put on a kettle to boil.
When the bread has risen, brush the dough with the remaining half egg. Place the pan on the baking stone, and pour boiling water into the frying pan. Shut the oven door to keep in the steam! Bake for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden.