This Good Friday, we're mixing it up a little with these Italian Easter buns. Not only are they vegan, they're also sugar-free (to make up for all the chocolate we are about to eat!)
sunflower oil, for brushing
For the starter
6 tablespoons plain soy milk, lukewarm
9 g/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (additive-free)
25 g/2 tablespoons rice, pure maple or agave syrup
2 tablespoons strong unbleached bread flour
For the dough
40 g/1⁄3 cup unsulfured dried apricots, chopped
40 g/1⁄3 cup raisins
3 tablespoons rum
grated zest of 1 orange
500 g/4 cups strong unbleached bread flour or unbleached spelt flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon ground turmeric
170 ml/3⁄4 cup plain soy milk
100 g/3⁄4 cup nonhydrogenated margarine
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
65 g/1⁄4 cup rice, pure maple or agave syrup, plus extra for brushing
baking sheet, lined with parchment paper
Makes 3 large buns
Mix together the starter ingredients in a mixing bowl, cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
For the dough, mix together the apricots, raisins, rum and orange zest in a bowl and allow to soak while the starter is rising.
Sift together the flour, salt and tumeric in a bowl.
Heat the milk in a saucepan until hot, then add the margarine and stir until melted. Add the vanilla extract and syrup, then the soaked fruit as well as the starter. Mix well. Pour into the flour mix and combine with a wooden spoon to get a smooth lump of dough. Transfer to a floured surface and knead vigorously for at least 5 minutes, until silky and elastic.
Place in an oiled bowl, cover with a wet kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm spot for 2 1⁄2 hours or until doubled in size.
Punch down the dough, give it a quick knead, then divide it into three equal portions. Shape each into a ball and put on the prepared baking sheet. Snip V-shaped cuts into the top of each loaf so that they open up during baking. Cover well with a kitchen towel and allow to rise again for 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas 6.
Brush a little oil over the buns and bake in the preheated oven for 30–60 minutes or until golden. Brush syrup over them while still hot, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
These should be stored wrapped in a kitchen towel in a cool and dry place and will keep for a week or a little longer.
This recipe is from The Vegan Baker by Dunja Gulin, photography by Clare Winfield © Ryland Peters & Small