I seem to have skipped the Fastnachs: on account of that they have to be deep fried, and we have neither chip pan nor deep fat fryer these days. I remember the times when the deep fat fryer was on once or twice a week...but that must be over ten years that it was sent to the recycling gods.
The other bake I am passing on is the Sweet Steamed Buns. I've never been a fan of steamed buns and bread, and since they would be tricky to cook all 16 of them, and then heat up a couple at a time, I have been trying other bakes. Only when we come to complete all the bakes which must be any time soon, for the sake of saying that I have baked every recipe in the book...I may have to try these.
On of the latest set of buns from the challenge is Khubz Mahala from Iran. The recipe is on page 52 of Jane Mason's Book of Buns. Most of the recipes have yielded just the right consistency, but for me there have been problems with this one. I shall consult with the group and see if they had to add extra water.
I guess it starts with the 200g pitted dates, dried or fresh, which need to be 'just' covered with water and simmered for 30 minutes or so until they are very soft. Dates can be very soft already or rather hard, well dried and compressed. Anyway I used the medium sort which are loose and ready stoned which are available from Waitrose for baking. I put them in a small pan, and made sure the water was just above the level of the dates...simmered them slowly, with the lid on, till they were soft, which took less than 15 minutes, after which I used the hand blender to get them to a puree, then added the 200g cold water, and the 4 teaspoons orange blossom water given in the recipe.
By the time I had sorted out my trays, and weighed out the 700g flour, and the yeast, the dates and water were cool...BUT mixing them all up did not give me the 'really sticky' dough described in the recipe. I went a little off piste...I cracked in an egg which was lying on the counter, but that was not sufficient, so I had to go and wash my hands before finding a jug and drawing some fresh water, meaning that I have not followed the recipe exactly. So if you try this recipe and it is delicious....do have some spare water to hand to add. Usually I keep some extra water at my side but had not done so this time. There is neither fat nor extra sugar or eggs...
I followed the shaping technique exactly, and before the final proving had rolled each ball of dough into flat circles which remained fairly flat when dimpled for the final egg wash and sprinkle of sesame seeds, and wondered how they would perform in the oven.
The top shelf shows the last four buns just put in, with a tray nearly baked on the bottom shelf, showing how the Khubz Mahala rise from flat disk to more rounded buns.
The buns are not really sweet enough for us to eat just alongside a cup of tea...but slit with a little butter and some honey or jam they are fragrant and delicious. With 20 buns...most went into the Freezer, but we had our bun Friday afternoon tea....the next day we had one each, warmed up a little in the oven and they were as soft and delicious as they were on baking day.
My 15 boxes of dates arrived from London yesterday....why not try our after dinner sweetmeat, a nice date stuffed with a whole brazil nut: no baking required, and the flavour combination is great. Two of these do very nicely instead of pudding!