Sunday, July 3, 2011

And So We Begin!

The very first food item mentioned in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone appears on page two. It is not magically exciting, it is not even excitingly British. It is Dudley’s baby cereal:

“ At half past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up his briefcase, pecked Mrs. Dudley on the cheek, and tried to kiss Dudley good-bye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum and throwing his cereal at the walls” (Rowling 2).

If you really want to know how to make baby cereal, here you go: cook whatever kind of rice (or rice powder) you prefer according to the instructions on the package.  If your baby is super young, pop the rice in a food processor (or use rice powder) to make the grains smaller, but not liquefied. If you like, you can then add small pieces of fruit, formula, or breast milk to the cereal to up the flavor and nutritional value.

But I have no infants. I have no children. So I will not be preparing baby cereal, because it would be a waste of delicious rice.

Blast! Foiled right at the starting line.

Thus we move on to the next edible item, which appears on page four: “buns.”

“He [Mr. Dursley] was in a very good mood until lunchtime, when he thought he’d stretch his legs and walk across the road to buy himself a bun from the bakery” (Rowling 4).

Ms. Rowling does not tell us what sort of bun Vernon Dursley has in mind when he sets out for the bakery, so I did a bit of research on “British buns.” The most famous sort of bun is the Hot Cross Bun, which is generally served on Good Friday, and in my opinion, would not be decadent enough to tempt “a big, beefy man with hardly any neck.” So I have decided to make British Cream Buns. Be advised, this recipe takes at least three hours from start to finish (but the results sure are delicious!).

For the Buns themselves, you will need: 
4 Cups All-Purpose Flour (preferably unbleached, but no worries)
2 ounces Salted Butter
1/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1 Cup Warm Water
1/2 Cup Warm Whole Milk
1/2 tsp Salt (dissolved in the warm milk)

For the Wash, You Will Need:
1 Beaten Egg Yolk
1 tsp Cold Water

For the Mock Cream, You Will Need:
1/3 Cup Water
1 Cup Sugar
4 Ounces Butter (4 Tbs)
1 tsp Vanilla
1 dash salt, if desired (I didn't use it)
Confectioner's (powdered) Sugar for Dusting

1. Sift together the dry yeast with the flour and sugar (I couldn't find my sifter, so I just whisked the three together really well).

2. Rub the butter into the dry mixture until it becomes a fine crumb texture.

3. Combine the warm water and the salted warm milk together, and add it to the buttered crumbs.

4. Combine into a soft dough. I recommend doing this with a fork and then with your hands, because it will gum up your electric mixer like crazy!

5. Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 minutes (keep flouring the surface so the dough doesn't stick!). Place the ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean towel, and let stand in a warm area for 2 hours, or until doubled.


6. Punch dough down, and place back onto the floured surface to knead for 4 more minutes.

7. Divide dough into 12 portions for the buns (honestly, I might recommend doing 18 or even 24 buns... they're pretty enormous once they're baked!).

8. Knead each portion into a nice round bun and place on a greased and floured cookie sheet, leaving enough room for rising.

9. Cover the buns with a towel and place back in a warm spot for 20 minutes, or until 1/2 doubled in size.

10. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

11. Combine the egg yolk and cold water to create a wash. Brush this wash on the risen buns.


12. Bake at 450 for 10 minutes. At around 8 minutes, lower the heat to 350.

13. Bake for another 15 minutes at 350, or until golden brown (don't be fooled by the egg wash-- it will turn golden brown long before the dough will!).

14. After reducing the oven temperature, begin the Mock Cream by combining the water and sugar in a saucepan.

15. Dissolve the sugar in the water over medium-high heat, bring to a boil, and boil for 3 minutes (and no longer!).

16. Pour the sugar syrup into a glass bowl and place in the fridge to cool COMPLETELY.

17. Remove the buns from the oven when golden brown and place on a wire rack to cool COMPLETELY.

18. When the syrup is cold, beat the butter with the vanilla in a smallish/medium bowl for a long time (like 8 minutes, truly) until it is white in color and fluffy.

19. Gradually, with mixer running, "pour" in the cold syrup, beating constantly. (Note: when I did this, my syrup was REALLY stiff. I had to mix it up really well, and scoop it into the butter/vanilla mixture with a spoon. But it still turned out great, so have no fear!)

20. When the buns are completely cool, make a slit across each bun (you may discover that they are still warm inside, so be sure to wait until they really are cool before filling them!), and add a dollop of mock cream inside each bun.

21. Dust the filled Cream Buns with Confectioner's Sugar, and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. It's also common to add a bit of lemon curd or jam with the mock cream. These look very nice!