Autumn Spiced Buns

As you know by now, bread in this household is the purview of Mr Bakeful Play. He's much MUCH better at it than me. However, he rarely makes sweet dough, preferring instead the technical challenge of sour dough loaves. On a day when the sun is shining, the wind biting and the leaves turning, I just fancied something cosy and I've always loved an iced bun.

I knew these wouldn't be beautiful - I'm increasingly ok with that. I just don't have the knack for perfectly risen buns (insert giggle here). But on a day when I just needed to hunker down and let the kids have a day with no agenda and no schedule they seemed the perfect thing for us all to enjoy as a treat, snuggled under a blanket, watching a Disney film.

Of course, the thing about bread is that it has to prove. The patience of smalls is not renowned and this will put some people off. However, you can adapt the bake to combat this and plan timings to make it all part of the normal routine. You can find more ideas on finding the time to bake in this blog post. In this case we made the dough just before lunch, allowing the first prove to happen whilst we ate. Shaping happened once smallest had gone down for a nap, which gave me a nice five minutes with biggest and then she had some downtime with a film whilst I cleaned up. Baked them whilst they were playing and iced them once naps were over and before dinner, so we could have one for pudding.

We iced these with honey water icing and it was a lovely compliment to the spiced fruit. I also set this up as a cup measured recipe so that biggest could do a bit of measuring. I hid a magnetic number in big bowls of flour and sugar with the right cup or spoon and asked her to work out how much to transfer to the big mixing bowl. It worked well. Her number recognition isn't good (I'm not at all worried about this) but she wants to know what they are, so this was quite a light hearted way to start. We'll do more. A few elements though I did still pre weigh. Yeast needs to be right for example and the fruit needed pre-soaking so that was just a tip it in job.


150g mixed dried fruit of your choice.

We used raisins and apricots.

1/2 tsp mixed spice

4 tbsp orange juice

2 1/2 cups of strong, white bread flour

7g easy dried yeast

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 egg

100g butter - melted

For the Icing

150g icing sugar

1tbsp honey stirred into some boiled water.


1. Before the bake, pour the orange juice over the fruit and add the mixed spice. Heat it gently until the juice is absorbed. Allow to cool before the small ones get involved.

2. Melt the butter and put to one side to cool a little too.

3. Add yeast and sugar to the flour. Add the butter and egg and mix together into a dough. If you need to add a little water you can. Tip the dough onto a floured surface (if you're baking on a tuff tray you can just tip it straight on there with some flour) and give it a good knead. Kneading with smalls is not an exact science. Just let them squish it and punch it for as long as they're interested. Pop the ball back in the bowl and leave it covered for about an hour. Hopefully it will get a bit bigger.

4. Separate the dough into 10 pieces. Roll them into balls. If your little ones find this difficult then you can just let them squish them like play dough and then do each one as they put them down. Pop them on a baking tray and leave for another hour before baking at 180° for 15 minutes. They'll grow a little more, turn golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Cool on a wire rack or chopping board.

5. To make the icing, mix the honey water with the icing sugar and stir into a thick paste. To ice them your mini baker can drizzle the icing over the buns with a spoon or dip the bun into the bowl. Make sure you pop some greaseproof paper under the wire rack to catch the drips and make tidying up easier.


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