Boy, are these buns delicious: the subtle background of spice brings these flavours together to make for a grown-up yet sweet and deeply comforting experience. I chose to serve this to my coolest and most excitingly trousered friends because the addition of one of Cape Town’s favourite local “craft” brewery’s stout makes these buns as hip as they are delicious.
The recipe is adapted from Dan Lepard’s spiced stout buns. I have, in the name of gluttony, made some indulgent alterations. You can find the original and more modest recipe here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/mar/13/spiced-stout-buns-dan-lepard
My most indulgent digression is the addition of the chocolate. I have taken the lead from Lauren Bakes’ Guinness and Chocolate Chip Sourdough Hot Cross Buns (the inspiration for this recipe in general) which you can find here: http://aslaurenbakes.wordpress.com/2013/03/29/guinness-chocolate-chip-sourdough-hot-cross-buns/
The dough is rich enough for you to eat the bread as is, but no one will think any less of you if you decided to butter it.
350ml stout (I used Triggerfish’s “Sweet Stout” and it was just perfect.)
100ml hot black tea
2tsp dry instant yeast
1 tsp mixed spice
160g chocolate, chopped small (I used 70% cocoa but use which ever chocolate you like best)
120g dried pears, chopped small
675g bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 large egg
The night before you want to bake the bread combine the stout, the spices, the yeast and half the flour in a large bowl. Place the pear pieces into a separate bowl with the tea, cover both bowls and leave them to their own devices.
The next day mix whatever liquid is left from the tea and pear mix (if any), the remaining flour, the sugar, the butter and the salt in with the beer, flour and yeast. Knead until shiny, smooth and elastic. Leave the dough to rise until is about doubled in size. Spread it out flat onto the counter, sprinkle over the chocolate chips and pear pieces and bring together. Knead the dough until the bits of fruit and chocolate are evenly distributed.
Divide the dough into pieces of about 90g each. Shape each piece into a ball, using your best technique (the dough is wet, this will be frustrating), and place the balls touching one another on a prepared roasting tray (the walls of the tray will give the very wet dough some support at the edges of the loaf). If you have drier dough then you could safely use a flat baking sheet. The more tightly packed the balls are the better they will stick together. Mine were just touching and the individual balls were tightly rolled, this meant that the loaf almost fell apart.
Leave the balls to rise in the tray for about one and half hours. Bake at 200 Celsius, for about 30 minutes. Too get some shine can you dissolve a few tablespoons of sugar in some hot water and brush over the top of the loaf while it is still hot.
Serve with pride.