It has been a really good summer for strawberries. Every year I have a debate with friends about which is the best summer fruit. It always comes down to raspberries Vs strawberries but this year with all the heat and sun strawberries won out.
It has been an even better year for my strawberry eating as I had an unexpected early start to eating my favourite fruit when I came across the most succulent strawberries in Shizuoka, Japan. Of all the foods I was expecting, and looking forward to eating whilst on my travels, I did not expect to be eating strawberries in April in a very remote tea growing region close to Mount Fuji.
Strawberries were served with everything from a cooked breakfast to smoothies but they were served as a delicacy; a perfectly shaped fruit full of flavour and aroma. I’ve never tasted strawberries so good, so early in the year, so I was in my element. It wasn’t until I reached the big cities that I started to see strawberries in food.
Two of the best were strawberry sandwiches; fine bread, thinly sliced and filled with custard, cream and halved strawberries, and strawberry buns filled with cream cheese. These may not sound like the most likely of combinations but they were delicious. So much so that since my return home I have been day dreaming of strawberry buns. Only one thing for it and that was to make my own recipe. It has been a long time since I have posted anything other than a Porridge recipe, a Spurtle suggestion, or a bit about oats so this is a baking departure for me!
This is a farewell to summer recipe so I’ve made the buns with freeze dried strawberries, which also means you can keep making them until long into the winter months.
Shizuoka Strawberry Buns
1 Teaspoon of yeast
1 Teaspoon of sugar
50 ml Warm water
1 kg Spelt flour
50g Xylitol* (sugar or other sweetener)
40g Freeze dried strawberries
1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
Makes – Six big buns
Time – 1 hr preparation and kneading, plus 20 mins for baking
Put the sugar and yeast into a measuring jug, add the warm water, stir well and leave for 10 mins.
Warm the butter with the milk in a saucepan, until the butter melts, making sure not to let it boil.
Sift the spelt flour into a deep mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast water, milk and butter.
Bring the mixture together with the tips of your fingers. The mixture should start to feel like a dough, add a little more milk if needed but the mixture should not be sticky.
Dust the work surface, turn the dough out and knead vigorously for 5-8 minutes. Knead like bread, don’t be too precious as it’s a robust dough!
Then return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and place somewhere warm for 45mins.
Add the freeze dried strawberries and Xylitol to the dough and knead again.
Divide dough into 6 equal portions and shape into balls.
Pour the vanilla over the ricotta and mix thoroughly.
Then take a ball, make a hole in the centre and spoon in the ricotta. Make sure hole and the ricotta are covered by the dough, shape again if necessary.
Grease a baking tray and place the balls on, making sure there is plenty of room between each as they will expand during baking.
Then place into a hot oven at 200C and cook for 10 minutes.
Turn the tray if necessary and reduce the heat to 180C, cooking for a further 10 minutes or until the buns are well risen and a light golden brown colour.
Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. The buns are best eaten warm on the day of baking but they are also really good re-heated. In my next post I will encourage you to enjoy autumn in the great outdoors with my recipe for Steamed Shizuoka Strawberry Buns.
*I use the natural sugar substitute Xylitol in my baking but you can use any sugar or sweetener for this recipe. Though don’t use anything with a strong taste as these buns have a delicate flavour.