Monday, 15 February 2016

HEART SHAPED 'ZEEUWSE BOLUSSEN' (SWEET & STICKY BUNS)



On Valentine's Day I baked some humble pies: heart shaped 'Zeeuwse bolussen'. Bolussen are little Dutch buns covered in treacle and cinnamon. Their sweetness, stickyness and softness are very effective on Valentine's Day for we all know the way to your man's heart is through his stomach. 






Originally the bolus is a Jewish bun. It got spead out all over the world because of the Jewish diaspora. It's name and recipe have Spanish and Portugese roots. For 'bolus' is the plural of 'bole', derived from the Spanish 'bollo' which means 'bun'. During the first half of the 17th century the Sephardi Jewish community thrived in the Dutch province of Zealand. Jewish bakers introduced the recipe of their sticky bollo and it's still perfected to this day by Dutch bakers. As of 1998 Zealand hosts a bolus' week every year in March with bolus-baking championships and all. The secret of the soft and sticky buns are the steam ovens. Because of the steam the bread doesn't dry out and the buns stay all nice and gooey while baking. Ofcourse I couldn't use a steam oven at home so I decided to imitate one by placing a small bowl of water on the bottom of my oven. You see, I didn't ride the short bus to school! 






Traditionally bolus buns have a spiral form. But because of Valentine's Day I decided to bake them heart shaped. If you like a little freshness in your bun you can add the zest of one or two oranges to the dough. The buns I baked turned out to be quite large. So you might consider making twice as much out of the same amount of dough I used. I made 11 big ones out of it, so it should be enough to make 22 small ones. 

HEART SHAPED 'ZEEUWSE BOLUSSEN' (SWEET & STICKY BUNS)
11 big ones or 22 small ones

Ingredients:
350 gr flour
7 gr dry yeast
considerable pinch of salt
200 ml lukewarm milk
40 gr unsalted butter in cubes
1 egg
550 gr cinnamon sugar ('bruine basterdsuiker' in Dutch)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger powder

1. In a large bowl mix flour with salt and yeast. Make a hollow and pour milk and egg into it. Add butter and knead the dough for about 15 minutes using a hand-held blender with dough hooks. The dough is ready when you can pull it apart very thinly without tearing it.

2. Fill a bowl with boiling water and place it on the bottom of your oven. Place your mixing bowl on a rack in the oven for 15 minutes. 

3. Mix sugar with cinnamon and ginger on a very large, flat plate. Roll 11 or 22 dough strings and cover them with sugar. If you're making 11 strings they should be about 20cm long. If you're making 22 strings they should be about 10cm long. Make sure the strings are fully covered in sugar and place them on a lined baking sheet.

4. Fill a bowl with boiling water and place it on the bottom of your oven. Place your baking sheet in the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Roll the dough strings through the sugar once more and make them twice as long. (If you're making 11 strings they should be about 40cm long. If you're making 22 strings they should be about 20cm long.) Place them in the desirable shape on a lined baking sheet. Cover with a wrung out wet dishcloth and leave to rise on a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes.

6. Preheat your oven to 250C. Fill a bowl with cold water and place it on the bottom of your oven (make sure you don't burn yourself!). Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for 6 minutes. Immediately place them on a rack to cool.


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