These sweet steamed buns are a German speciality and should have a caramelised bottom and soft pillowy tops.
For this recipe you will need a large, non-stick sauté pan with a lid.
For the dampfnudel
- 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 100g/3½oz caster sugar
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 150ml/5fl oz full-fat milk, warmed
- 2 large free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 70g/2½oz unsalted butter, melted
- 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
- vegetable oil, for greasing
For the plum sauce
- 4 ripe plums, roughly chopped and stones removed
- 1 medium orange, juice only
- 50g/1¾oz demerara sugar
- pinch ground cinnamon
For the vanilla sauce
- 150ml/5fl oz full-fat milk
- 150ml/5fl oz double cream
- 3 large free-range egg yolks
- ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tsp plain flour
- 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
For the poaching liquid
For the dampfnudel, tip the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the milk, eggs and butter and turn the mixture round using your fingers until you have a rough dough and have picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5–10 minutes. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin. Scatter the lemon zest on top of the dough and knead until evenly incorporated.
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise for at least 1 hour until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, for the plum sauce, tip the plums and orange juice into a large saucepan. Sprinkle over the sugar and cook over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
Increase the heat and boil for 10 minutes, squashing the plums using a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon. Leave to cool slightly, then blend to a thick sauce. Set aside.
For the vanilla sauce, heat the milk and cream in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat to just below boiling point then remove from the heat. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks, vanilla paste, flour and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Pour over the warmed milk, whisking continuously. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a very low heat for 3–4 minutes stirring continuously until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat and set aside. Cover the surface of the sauce with cling film, to prevent a skin forming.
Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Turn inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls.
For the poaching liquid, heat the butter, milk and sugar in a large sauté pan with a tight fitting lid over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and, taking care not to burn yourself, add the dough balls, ensuring they are all are sitting on the base of pan. Leave to stand for 15 minutes until doubled in size.
Reduce to a low heat and cook, covered, for 25–30 minutes (keep an eye on them as they will burn easily, so check them towards the end of the cooking time and add a little milk if they start to catch). Remove the lid and cook over a low heat for a further 5–10 minutes until the bases are golden-brown and caramelised.
Meanwhile, gently reheat the plum and vanilla sauces.
Remove the dampfnudels from the heat and carefully lift from the pan. Serve with the golden crust upward, with the warm plum and vanilla sauces alongside.