Sunday, March 21, 2010

Buns - Irish Style: Variations on a Theme

I've been meaning to get back to blogging baking recipes again lately but what with all that's gone on in my life recently it's only now I am getting down to blogging again - I find it relaxing and there's a certain therapeutic quality to sitting down writing something even as mundane as a simple recipe.

I always find the act of baking therapeutic in itself and even made a batch of buns the day after my mother passed away, just to do something "normal" as well as to have them in the house for the visitors who called over the weekend.

I made more buns yesterday and wondered what exactly they were - I use the term buns advisedly - in Ireland it's almost a generic term that covers all baked sweet small individual cakes. (I came across this link which seems to have a greengrocer's apostrophe crisis with its "bun's" - maybe they're being ironic and I'm missing the joke or just being a grammar pedant again!)

The photos show the finished products on the plate before and after icing the plain buns, how they looked before baking, and my infamous silicone cases.

What I did - Ingredients and Method

I made a batch of standard Victoria Sponge mix thus:

8ozs/250gm vanilla sugar (I keep a Kilner jar with a few Vanilla Pods inside topped up with sugar),
8 ozs/250gm flour (Self-Raising or Plain with added Baking Powder - 3 teaspoons) and
8 ozs/250gm softened butter,
4 eggs -

Mix all ingredients in a bowl with a hand mixer or a stand-mounted mixer - or by hand if you have time and energy!

I used ordinary Fairy Cake/Cupcake tins with paper cases. (I have a number of colourful silicone cupcake cases but after Ben the dog ate 3 of them some time back -he was after the buns inside but didn't discriminate as he always ate the paper cases without incident - and the silicone took 3 days to be thrown up (apologies for the graphic detail) it's made me extremely cautious about using silicone anywhere within his range again!!)

Then it's time to get creative with this basic recipe.

1. I made one plain batch of Fairy/Cup Cakes for Dear Sons who adore them with lashings of thick plain glacé icing (frosting for those readers across the Atlantic!) and sprinklies (Hundreds & Thousands) - a throwback to their childhood birthday parties in Africa and Asia which always featured plates piled high with such cakes.

2. Another batch I turned into Madeira Cherry buns by adding a bit more flour to the mix and a little hot water to maintain the consistency at soft dropping from a spoon. I spooned this into the cases and stuck three glacé cherries on top. When they bake, the cherries sink into the mix which make for a bit of fun as you're never sure if you're eating a plain bun or will bite on a delicious cherry!

3. To the final batch I just added another tablespoon of flour and some milk to give a muffin-y mixture. I mixed in a handful of chocolate chips (plain or milk according to taste) and then sprinkled some more on top.

4. Other options for the basic fairy cake would be
a) to add dessicated coconut and spread strawberry jam and some dessicated coconut on top - delicious!
b) to make Butterfly Buns - slice off top of bun, cut in half, put a dollop of strawberry jam and whipped cream on cake and top with the "wings" cut from bun top
3) to make Mini-Bakewell Tarts - follow this recipe I blogposted last year.

Everything was baked at 200 degrees Centigrade for about 10 minutes, turning down the heat to 150 degrees for about another 5 minutes. Keep a close eye on them if you have a glass doored oven as they can burn in a heartbeat and it really ruins them so these times are fine for my oven but check yours as it may be a bit temperamental.

Enjoy the results with a nice cuppa tea - or coffee or your favourite beverage - ideally in front of the fire with a good book or watching some guilty pleasure on the telly - Desperate Housewives anyone?


FoodFunFarmLife said...

Ooohhh, yes - I'll join you with one of these & a nice cuppa to watch Desperate Housewives ;) I always love your recipes and photos of the things you bake - mostly because you always make things which I just LOVE to eat ! Had to laugh at the story of your dog eating the silicone cupcases - just the sort of thing that would happen in my home, too - in fact, just the other day one of the dogs pulled a tray of biscuits off the counter (cooling out the oven) and all 3 dogs had a real feast !

Ann said...

The buns look wonderful. Mouth watering. I am off all sweets for Lent. So you are really tempting me here.

Welcome back to blogging world. Hope you are doing well.

Peggy said...

They all sound good Catherine, I have baked most of them over the years but good idea to have a 'bake in' and do some of each.I hope you can get back to regular blogging soon if not popping in when you can is fine too.Blogging should not become a way of life either!

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niamh said...

these sound delicious! we had 'cupcakes' with green shamrock icing last week and it made me wonder again when did buns become cupcakes?! Thanks for the recipes!