There is something about a simple iced bun that evokes so many childhood memories. Firstly in our house they were only ever known as Nice Bums due saying an iced bun with a Worcester accent. What’s that they say? Simple things please simple minds! Yes, that’s me!
Secondly they always make me think of my little sister. Naomi is 8 years younger than me so I spent a lot of time minding her when she was little. As the time her best friend, Tina, lived over the road from us and they were inseparable. They shared everything but to this day I still have palpitations at the memory of my then step-father giving Naomi a couple of iced buns when the girls were playing. Why? Because only the month before had Tina been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes! After tear-arsing into the living room expecting to find Tina in a diabetic coma, you can only imagine my relief at finding the two girls happily playing with their dolls. When asked if she had eaten any of the cake Tina simply replied, “No. Naomi offered me some but I’m not allowed!” I’m glad Tina had more sense than my then step-father!
Finally iced buns remind me of Worcester Grammar School for Girls. My academic cohort was the last year to go through this Grammar school because it was turned into Worcester Sixth Form College. So having started the school in 1982 as 1 on 1500 pupils by 1987 there were only 300 of us Grammar school girls left. I have so many happy memories of those years; all the trips to Stratford-upon-Avon to watch the Royal Shakespeare Company, watching A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Ludlow Castle in the open air theatre, hoping that you weren’t on Miss Yarker’s radar today, Amo-Amas-Amat and being terrified of Mr Downs – to this day I can’t do physics and I was a science teacher!
How does Grammar School relate to iced buns, I hear you ask? Well, every day on Founders Day we would all be given an iced bun and then we would all march down London Road, all the way down to Worcester Cathedral to practice our singing in readiness for the Valedictory service later that evening. Can you imagine the sight of 1500 school girls flowing down the hill complete with our cookery baskets and / or hockey sticks and wearing our regulation school mac and boaters? Not to mention the beautiful sound of 1500 female voices singing Jerusalem! It gives me goose-bumps just thinking about it!
I can’t take any credit for the following recipe. It is a recipe that Paul Hollywood used on the Great British Bake Off. I have to say, however, that it produces the best iced buns I have ever eaten!
For the dough
- 500g/1lb 2oz strong white flour
- 50g/1¾oz caster sugar
- 40g/1½oz unsalted butter, softened
- 2 free-range eggs
- 2 x 7g/¼oz sachets instant yeast
- 2 tsp salt
- 150ml/5fl oz warm milk
- 140ml/4½fl oz water
For the icing
- 200g/7oz icing sugar
- 5 tsp cold water
- Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
- To make the dough, place all the ingredients into a large bowl, holding back a quarter of the water. Stir the mixture with your hands, then slowly add the remaining water to form a dough and knead in the bowl for four minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for one hour.
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces, each about 70g/2½oz, then roll into balls and shape into fingers about 13cm/5in long.
- Place the dough fingers onto a greased baking tray, leaving space for them to double in size, then set aside in a warm place for 40 minutes. They should just touch each other when they’ve risen. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes then set them aside to cool.
- For the icing, sift the icing sugar in a wide bowl and gradually stir in the cold water to form a thick paste.
- Dip the top of the cooled fingers into the icing, smoothing it with your finger, then leave to set on a wire rack.
Just a couple of notes:
- This dough is really loose and sticky but it is meant to be. It is this consistency that gives you the lovely texture.
- Don’t be tempted to do bigger roll sizes because they really do double in size. I was shocked at how much they grew on the second proving!
- Add the icing needs to be lovely and stiff otherwise it won’t stick to the top of the bun very well.
- Paul suggested in his original recipe to split them and fill them with cream and jam which, of course, is fine but not how I think of iced buns.
- Not proper Bakewell Tart (thecakedoctorssurgery.wordpress.com)