pistachio and lemon iced buns

A few weeks ago, I made a batch of iced pink finger buns, an adaptation of
the recipe for pistachio and lemon iced buns from 'Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice' by Natalie Paull which was featured in a recent issue of Delicious magazine. I'd always planned to make a batch of the orginal pistachio and lemon finger buns and when invited over to a friend's place, I said I'd bring along finger buns. I tweaked the recipe a little, made the dough and the zingy lemon stuff when illness intervened, so I put the bun dough into the freezer and a few weeks later, defrosted the dough and made the buns.

There are many steps to making these buns, so I was glad I just had to make the icing and the syrup, and with an early start, the buns were ready to transport by 10.30am on Sunday morning.

Here's the recipe for you which makes 6 buns. For all my recipes I use a 250ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Pistachio and lemon iced buns, inspired by this recipe for pistachio and lemon iced buns from Beatrix Bakes: Another Slice by Natalie Paull.
Fruit soak
100g dried fruit (I used a mix of sultanas, currants and dried blueberries)
½ cup boiling water
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 and ¼ tsp yeast
135 mls lukewarm milk
30g honey
1 room temperature egg 
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (300g) plain flour 
½ tsp salt
60g room temperature unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 

Tiff’s zingy lemon stuff (makes 150g)
2 small lemons
2 tbs (40ml) water

Fluffy cream cheese icing
125g full fat softened cream cheese
125g unsalted butter, squidgy soft 
pinch salt
40g yoghurt powder or dried milk powder
125g icing sugar

40 mls lemon juice 
40g caster sugar

To finish
30g blanched slivered pistachios
60g butter of your choice

Fruit soak
Place the dried fruit into a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for an hour before draining thoroughly and patting dry with paper towel. Stir through the grated rinds and set aside until needed.

Grease a large plastic container and set to one side. Combine the yeast, milk and honey in a large liquid measuring cup and rest for 5 minutes or until foamy then stir in the egg and the vanilla. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, mix the flour and salt and stir on low to combine. Add the egg mixture and mix on low to combine. With the mixer on low, add the butter, one piece at a time. When all the butter has been incorporated (about 10 minutes) increase the speed to medium and beat the butter into the dough, until all the little butter pieces are incorporated, and the dough comes away from the side of the bowl. Transfer the dough to the prepared container. The dough will be sticky, and you might need a spatula to scrape the dough into the bowl or container. 

Cover the container with a lid or with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 minutes. Distribute the fruit soak over the dough and gently push it into the dough using your fingers. Place your fingers or a spatula underneath the dough and gently pull the dough up and fold it back over itself. Turn the container and repeat this folding again. Continue 6 to 8 more times, until all the dough has been folded over on itself. Re-cover the container and let rise for 30 minutes. Repeat this series of folding 3 more times, for a rise time of 2 hours and a total of 4 foldings. Replace the lid or tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Place the cream cheese, butter and yoghurt or milk powder and salt in the bowl of electric stand mixer. Sift the icing sugar over the top. Beat with the paddle attachment for 10 minutes on speed 4 (below low) until pale, and fluffy. Store covered in the fridge until needed. If refrigerated, rewarm in the microwave in 20-second bursts until softened.

Zingy lemon stuff
Juice one lemon and place the juice in a non-reactive saucepan with the water. Trim the stalk end off the other lemon, halve it, and remove any visible seeds, then slice into thin half-moons and add to the lemon juice in the saucepan. Cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer over a low heat until all the pith is translucent. Take care the lemon doesn't catch any colour as it simmers. You can also use the microwave - cover with a lid and zap for 3 minutes on high. Cool, then whiz to a paste in a food processor, Scrape into a small container doing a final seed check, and chill.

Spray a shallow 20cm x 30cm 5cm deep baking tray with cooking oil spray and line with baking paper. On a lightly floured counter, divide the chilled dough into six, approximately 115g portions and gently shape into balls. Leave on the counter with a tea towel over the top and rest for 10 minutes. This little pre-shape will relax the dough so you can roll evenly shaped with extra flour as possible.

Roll the balls into smooth, even diameter cigars about 15cm long. Place the dough cigars in parallel lines on the lined tray. Space them apart by 1cm so they'll touch during baking. Free-range, far apart buns won't puff as much without support from their bun buddies. Spray the tops with cooking oil and cover with plastic wrap. Leave at room temperature for the final proof (around 1 to 1½ hours depending on room temperature) or until they're a little puffed and snuggling one another. 

Towards the end of the proof, preheat the oven to 220°C, conventional. While the buns proof, finish the icing by stirring in 50g of the zingy lemon stuff. Set aside at room temperature or refrigerate if it's a warm day. 

Combine the juice and sugar in small non-reactive saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 30 seconds, until viscous like oil. Turn the heat off and set the syrup aside to cool at room temperature. Chop the slivered pistachios into a coarse crumb.

When the buns bounce back lazily when poked, put them in the oven. Turn the heat down to 190°C conventional and bake for 18-20 minutes. The bun tops will be a light tan colour, springy to touch, and the internal temperature will be 95°C. 

As soon as the buns come out of the even, brush the syrup all over the tops and sides. Leave the tray to completely cool on a wire rack for around 1 hour. If your icing is chilled, take it out of the fridge now.

To finish 
Pull a bun away from its buddies. Using a small, sharp serrated knife, split the cooled bun lengthwise like a hot dog bun, keeping the base intact, and smooth a good smear of softened butter on each cut side. 

Press the halves back together. Load the softened icing into a piping bag with a medium plain nozzle in place. Pipe a tight squiggly spine down the top of the bun and sprinkle a pile of crushed pistachios liberally on top. Serve within an hour or two of icing the buns.

I shared the buns with my friends and their 2 daughters, who'd just returned from a swimming lesson. I'd say the buns were inhaled rather than eaten as they disappeared so quickly. They really are very delicious and as far as we're concerned they don't need to be served with butter, they are just perfect the way they are.

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,



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