Two for one with this recipe – use half of the dough to make fresh peach buns ‘blushed’ with edible dusting powder and the rest for deliciously sticky pecan buns.
Equipment and preparation: you will need two 12-cup muffin trays and a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.
few drops natural peach essence
175g/6oz icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
175g/6oz ground almonds
1 large free-range egg
few drops almond extract
4 large ripe peaches, peeled, halved stone removed
vanilla sugar, for dusting
deep pink edible dusting powder
yellow edible dusting powder
2 large pieces candied angelica strips, cut into 12 leaf shapes
For the dough, place the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Add the milk, almond extract and eggs and mix slowly for a couple of minutes, then increase the speed and continue to mix for another five minutes or so, or until the dough has come together and is smooth and elastic.
Add the softened butter and continue to mix for another five minutes, making sure all the butter is incorporated.
Transfer half of the dough into another bowl, cover with oiled cling film and put it in the fridge overnight. (This is the dough for the German sticky pecan buns).
For the peachy buns, add a few drops of peach essence to the remaining dough and give this a final mix, before you cover it and put it in the fridge overnight.
Make some marzipan by sifting together the icing sugar and ground almonds in a bowl, then mix in the egg. Add a few drops of almond extract. Knead on a surface dusted with icing sugar until smooth, then wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge until you need it.
Tip the peachy bun dough onto a floured surface and gently knock it back. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces each weighing about 60g/2¼oz.
Using a melon baller, make 12 balls of peach.
Divide the marzipan into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Flatten each into a disc. You will need each disc of marzipan to be at least twice as big as the ball of peach so that it encases it completely. You're basically creating a little marzipan bag for each ball of peach - a bit like a wonton.
Using floured hands, flatten the 12 pieces of dough and place a ball of marzipan-coated peach in the centre. Gently wrap the dough around the marzipan and peach.
Place each bun, seam-side down, into the hole of a 12-cup muffin tray – leaving each muffin cup alternately empty. (You should have six buns in each 12-hole tray, with empty spaces between). Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 190C/fan oven 170C/375F/Gas 5.
Take twelve sturdy metal tablespoons and place their handles across each bun, with the bowls of the spoons resting in the vacant holes of the muffin trays. This will reproduce the natural cleft of a peach as the buns bake. Bake the buns for about 20-25 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
When the buns are cool, dust them with the vanilla sugar, gently apply a ‘blusher’ of pink and yellow edible powder with a brush and use the angelica to create ‘leaves’. (Because it's candied, the angelica is already a bit sticky so you can just place the leaves into the dimple of the buns. However, you can also gently push one pointed end of the leaf shape just into the surface of the bun to make sure it won't move.)
For the German sticky pecan buns, mix the pecans with the maple syrup, hazelnut butter, vanilla bean paste and hazelnuts in a bowl to form a rough paste.
Tip the dough onto a floured surface and gently knock it back. Roll and shape the dough to form a rectangle about 25 x 35cm/10 x 14in long.
Spread the pecan paste over the dough, and then carefully roll up, long side first, into a sausage shape.
Tidy up the roll by slicing off and discarding the two end pieces and then cut the roll into 12 equal slices. Carefully transfer the buns to two lined baking trays, leaving plenty of space in between. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for about one hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C/fan oven 160C/350F/Gas 4.
When risen, sprinkle the buns with pearl sugar and bake for about 25 minutes.
While the buns are baking, make a glaze. Combine the caster sugar and 50ml/2fl oz water in a saucepan and heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves.
When the buns are ready, remove from the oven and brush with the glaze. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
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As week four begins, the bakers must multitask across several baking skills at once.