“Iced fingers or sticky buns were always a treat for me growing up, eaten on holidays to Northern Ireland visiting my family. Soft cakey bread topped with sugary icing and a sprinkling of coconut. Cut the buns in half and spread liberally with salted butter to elevate them to salty-sweet perfection.” Deputy food editor Adam Bush.
How to make perfect iced buns
Dried yeast is a collection of single cell organisms that will feed on the sugar and starch in the flour, butter, milk, eggs and sugar, which creates pockets of carbon dioxide gas that cause dough to rise.
2. Ideal temperature
Yeast is quite particular in what it likes – too cold and it won’t thrive, too hot and it dies. It’s happiest between 20C-40C – this is why the milk is heated gently at the beginning, to get the dough’s temperature right. Also, when using fast-action yeast, which has been dehydrated to keep it dormant, mixing it with the warm milk allows it to hydrate before going into the dough so it can hit the ground running.
3. Kneads must
This dough includes butter, eggs and milk (known as an enriched dough) meaning it’s going to have a much stickier texture than normal bread dough. It will be much harder to knead – try not to add too much flour – but by building up the gluten strength through kneading and slapping it, more gas will be trapped within resulting in a taller, lighter bun.
4. Proof positive
After the initial prove, the reason for shaping and proving again is that dough needs to be shaped into balls so that it can remain separate when baked.
5. Know when to stop
Don’t let the dough more than double in size. It is possible to over-prove, causing the buns to deflate in the oven because the gluten has been stretched beyond its strength and will collapse.
6. Golden time
Brushing the dough with milk before baking will help to achieve a deep golden colour as the sugar in the milk will caramelise as it cooks