"Valentine's Day" is the theme for February month's challenge of "We Knead to Bake". I don't think there could be a better choice than the "Black Forest Buns" that Aparna chose for us. A German tradition, "Black Forest Gateau/Cake" pairs rich chocolate cake with cherries. Flavored with kirsch (fruit brandy from cherries) and with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and more whipped cream on top, makes a stunning dessert for Valentine's Day. Now, think of the same deliciousness (sans kirsch & whipped cream) rolled out into cute little "Black Forest Buns". An ambitious baking project, I would say.. but is extremely tasty.
If you are looking for the “real deal” in terms of flavor, go ahead and flavor the compote (whichever you are using) with a little kirsch. For Black Forest Buns, the obvious choice of jam to use would be cherry, but you can also substitute it with strawberry jam/compote or any other red berry ones. The method of kneading, rolling out the dough, covering it with the filling, and making into rolls is just like making cinnamon rolls. So, if you have tried your hand at making cinnamon rolls before, making these buns would be cake-walk for you! If you like, you can also add finely chopped nuts or mini chocolate chips for more flavor.
The main challenge while making these buns is the rising part especially the second rise. The buns if not placed in a proper mould will spread rather rise in height. To avoid, use a proper mould (ramekins/cupcake tins worked perfectly fine for me) or you could make collars using foil or parchment paper to fit well around each piece. Otherwise place them in a lightly greased rectangular baking tin with raised sides or a cake tin leaving enough space for them to expand (use a 9" cake tin for a half batch of this recipe). A round cake tin will however not give you perfectly round buns but buns that are more triangular in shape.
I made my own eggless chocolate sponge and here is the recipe incase you are looking for one.. Sieve 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 cup of powdered sugar, 3 tbsp of cocoa powder, 1 tsp of baking soda, 1 tsp of instant coffee powder and a pinch of salt 2 or 3 times until well combined. Whisk 1/4 cup of vegetable oil, 1 cup of cold milk, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of lemon juice in a bowl until well combined. Now, add the dry mixture into the wet mixture in 2-3 parts, gently fold until combined. Pour the batter into a pre-greased baking pan and bake at 350 deg F for 35-40 mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let it cool completely and crumble it into pieces.
The bread dough is enriched with butter, milk and eggs (though mine is an eggless version) for a soft & supple crumb and great colour when toasted. With crumbled chocolate cake and strawberry jam inside and topped with chocolate sauce, these cloud-like buns were oh-so good! If you like to stick with the theme, you can also garnish the buns with whipped cream and cherries on top.
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 1-2 hrs
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 12 buns
1/2 cup water
1/2 + 1/4 cup milk
50 gm butter
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
3 to 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cherry/strawberry jam/compote
2 1/2 to 3 cups crumbled chocolate sponge cake
1/2 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
Heat water and milk in a saucepan until quite hot but not boiling. Pour this mixture into a large bowl. Add butter, sugar and stir until the butter is melted and sugar is dissolved. Let this mixture cool down to lukewarm for yeast to proof well. If the water/milk mixture is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
When lukewarm, add yeast and mix well. Then, add about 1 cup of flour and mix well. Add salt and more flour, as much as is necessary, and knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic but not sticky. I used about 2.5 cups of flour.
Transfer the dough onto work surface. Add more flour (I used about 1/2 cup) and continue to knead for about 10 minutes till the dough is not sticky but elastic. Place the kneaded dough in an oiled bowl, turning the dough till well coated with oil. Cover and allow to double in volume, for about 1 - 1.5 hours.
Now, divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll out one of the dough into a rectangle, approximately 9"x12" sized. Spread half of the strawberry jam over leaving half an inch all around. Sprinkle half of the chocolate sponge crumbs on top of this. Roll the dough away from you starting from the long end, cinnamon roll style. Pinch the dough or dampen the edges with a little water to seal well. It is important to roll up the dough as tightly as possible because the dough does rise quite a bit while baking. Cut the roll into 1 1/2" wide pieces with a knife (about 6 pieces).
Repeat the same with the other half of the dough and remaining strawberry jam & chocolate sponge. You should have 12 pieces of the buns now.
Place each piece in a mould (I used ramekins for half batch and regular muffin/cupcake trays for the other half). Cover loosely, and allow to rise, for about 1 hour or till almost double.
Bake at 180C (350F) for 25 - 30 minutes, until the buns are done and nice golden brown in color. Remove from oven and cool completely. Drizzle with melted chocolate and serve.
- You can replace 1/4 cup of milk with a egg.
- This recipe is being "Yeast-spotted"!!