The last couple of days have been incredibly busy – planning for and going away for and recovering from a May bank holiday weekend has never been easy. This year, especially with a halfway promising weather forecast, we decided to go to the coast: a caravan on Hayling Island, overlooking the Isle of Wight and the busy port of Portsmouth. Perfect for two families with teenagers and small children, as a windy beach, a swimming pool and a surprisingly fun crazy golf pitch would provide hours of entertainment.
Anyone who has ever been to the English seaside will know that the food choices are unlimited: you can get anything, as long as you don’t mind it being fried. Even sausages come as either ‘plain’, which means fried, or ‘battered’, which means dunked in batter and then fried. Now that’s what I call a choice!
Anyone who is not from these isles will soon feel all fried out. You notice it around the second day, when you start to smell of frying fat. By day 3 you will leave an oil film floating on the surface of the swimming pool. Not that I have ever let this happen – after two meals in local establishments I usually have to declare defeat and retreat to my kitchen.
My answer to short-break-cuisine is preserving: using jam jars or larger Kilner-type lidded preserving jars, you can cook meals beforehand and bring them along to reheat. And not just meals: I’ve shared the idea of baking cakes in jam jars before, simply because it is such an ingenious idea. By using a smaller cake tin than the recipe suggests, you will have enough dough and filling to bake two or three mini-cakes on the side, which will keep fresh in the fridge for a fortnight or more. That’s as close to a diet as I’ll ever get…
I have to admit, though, that these orange and almonds buns are nothing new: the dough is the same as I used for my poppy buns, and the filling is, really, just a desperate attempt to get rid of the leftovers of an even more desperate attempt to make marmalade. Having accidentally used preserving sugar instead of ordinary sugar, the marmalade ended up so stiff that you have to cut it into slices in order to eat in on a slice of bread. But slightly heated up and stretched with a little orange juice, it makes for a perfect cake filling.
I balanced the slight bitterness of the oranges with marzipan – following the Daring Gourmet‘s instructions, it takes 3 ingredients and 5 minutes to make, and yet it tastes so much better than the stuff you get in the shops. It is also less sweet, so you can adjust it to your own preferences. And to make it doubly special, I lightly toasted some pistachios, chopped them and sprinkled them over the filling.
Whether you want to eat these buns straightaway or keep them for a couple of days in a jar is really up to you. But trust me, the combination of oranges and almonds is to die for. And that’s even without the toasted and chopped pistachios I added for a finishing touch.
Orange and Almond Buns (makes 14)
For the dough:
- 500g plain flour
- 250ml lukewarm milk
- 1 tsp dried active yeast
- 40g sugar
- 1 egg
- 100g soft, unsalted butter
- 1 pinch of salt
For the filling:
- 100g ground, blanched almonds
- 100g icing sugar
- 1 egg white
- 150g bitter orange marmalade
- 1 tbs orange juice
- 100g pistachios
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbs milk
Measure out the flour into a large bowl. Make a dent into the middle where you add the yeast and a pinch of the sugar, then add the milk. Stir to mix the yeast with the milk, then leave it ti stand for a few minutes until you can see some bubbles forming on the surface. Add the remaining ingredients and knead until the dough is beginning to come up in bubbles.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and rest the dough until it has almost doubled in size. Depending on your kitchen, this takes between 45 minutes and 2 hours.
In the meantime, heat your oven to 200C / 400F. Place the pistachios on a baking tray and bake them for 8-10 minutes, shaking the tray regularly. Remove them from the oven and chop them up once they have cooled down.
Grind the almonds and icing sugar in a food processor. Add the egg white, keeping the yolk for later. Pulse it until it is all mixed through.
In a small pan, bring the marmalade to boil and add the orange juice. Crumble up the marzipan and sprinkle it evenly on the surface, followed by 3/4 of the pistachios. Spread the marmalade over it, then roll up the dough into one long sausage. See my tutorial on chelsea buns for pictures.
Grease a small cake tin or ovenproof form, as well as 2 or 3 jam jars. Cut the sausage into 14 slices, each ca. 3cm or 1in thick, and place them into the forms. Cover them with a tea towel and leave it to rest for another 15 minutes or so. Use the time to heat the oven to 200C / 400F.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Close the jars immediately after removing the cakes from the oven: as they cool down they will create a vacuum which will keep them fresh. Store them in the fridge for two or three weeks, if they’ll last that long. Simply take them out of the fridge an hour or two before you want to serve them to allow them to warm up a little.
I’ll be bringing this cake to Angie’s Fiesta Friday party tomorrow – I haven’t been there for a while, so it’s high time to check out what they’re all up to! This week Angie’s being supported by two amazing co-hosts: Caroline @Caroline’s Cooking and Jess @Cooking Is My Sport are making sure everybody is having a great time. I hope you’ll come along, too!