Is it just me, or does this year seem to be speeding up? The past few weeks seem to have flown by. How on earth is it already November?
I’m very excited to be bringing some Christmas recipes to you very soon (I’m trying to hold off just a little bit longer to make it just a little more acceptable…), but I can’t believe we’re rapidly heading towards the final parts of our trip.
Tonight we catch a sleeper train from the charming little walled town of Pingyao, to Beijing, our last stop in China before we catch the Trans-Mongloian train which will take us west back towards home (and Christmas- yay!). We’ve well and truly hit winter weather. Coats and boots have been purchased. Gloves are, for my part at least, a daily necessity, and every night I seem to be heading to the warmth of bed earlier and earlier!
This bread clings onto a few memories of summer, but the flavours are perfect for the cooler weather.
Its bread for eating warm from the oven, covered in lots of butter. Equally good spilt open and coated with a thick layer of jam.
The perfect bread for dunking in your soup.
This was my first time using honey in bread. Being strongly apposed to any artificially sweet breads, I wasn’t sure how I’d like it, but I really do. The honey gives a warm sweetness, without being sickly. The honey glaze on top of the rolls gives them a lovely rich colour. The sunflower seeds give a nutty crunch.
They’re lovely served warm with a steaming bowl of pumpkin or sweet potato soup. They also freeze very well. We put most of the batch in the freezer and just brought them out as needed to eat for lunch. Perfect for whenever you need an extra hit of carbs to help you keep warm and cosy!
Honey and Sunflower Seed Rolls
(Makes approx 12 large rolls, or 16 smaller rolls)
300g strong white bread flour
300g wholemeal bread flour
300g unsalted butter, cubed
7g dried instant yeast
3 tablespoons honey (runny honey works best)
500ml warm water
50g sunflower seeds
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon water
additional seeds to decorate
In a large bowl, combine your flours together until evenly mixed.
Add your cubed butter to the bowl, and rub into the flour as if you were making a crumble. You want to achieve a texture similar to bread crumbs.
Stir the dried yeast through the flour and butter mixture.
Make a well in the centre of the mixture and pour in the warm water and honey. Bring together and knead until you a firm, slightly sticky dough. Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky to work with, but be careful not to over do it.
Turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough feels stretchy, smooth and elastic. Knead the sunflower seeds into the dough until they are evenly distributed.
Put the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with cling film or damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Knock the air out of the dough, then briefly knead again until smooth.
Divide the dough into 12 or 16 evenly sized balls. Arrange them onto a lightly greased baking sheet. Make sure you space them well apart and give them plenty of space to rise.
Loosely cover each tray with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place. It took mine about 45 minutes to double in size.
While they are rising, heat the oven to 220C/ 200 fan/ 430F.
Just before they go in the oven, glaze the rolls.
In a small cup, mix together the water and honey. Brush across the top of the rolls, then sprinkle with seeds.
Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden brown. The bottoms will sound hollow when tapped when they are ready.
Put onto a wire rack and cool completely, or eat warm with lots of fresh butter.