Monday, March 14, 2011

(Almost) foiled again!

Back in the first weekend of September, I headed to Timaru, intending - among other things - to make some Chelsea buns (p23) for Father's Day. An earthquake interrupted that plan, so as Dad's birthday approached, I considered making a surprise day trip on the weekend before his birthday, bearing freshly made Chelsea buns. Unfortunately, that particular weekend happened to be only a few days after the February quake, and that plan went out the window too.

You may have gathered from the above that Chelsea buns are a favourite of Dad's. I came to the conclusion that there didn't need to be a special occasion for making them, and decided to make some this Saturday before heading to Timaru for Nana's 90th birthday celebration.

So on Saturday morning, I scattered yeast over some warm water, let it go fluffy, then mixed it with flour, salt, sugar, melted butter and warm milk to make a dough. After a bit of kneading, I placed the dough in an oiled bowl and left it to rise.

During this time, I'd become aware of the cat behaving strangely. As I watched her repeatedly go back and forth to her litter box, I started to suspect a problem and rang the vet for an appointment. Since Moby's usually a very healthy cat, I haven't had reason to take her to the vet for years: I didn't have a cat carrier. Abandoning my slowly rising dough, I made a rush trip to the crowded shops of Northlands Mall, where I found no cat carriers to be had. Eventually I found a pet shop down the road from the mall, bought a cat carrier and rushed home.

With an hour to spare before the appointment, I had time to bake my buns. The dough had risen nicely in my absence, so I punched it down and gave it a quick knead before rolling it out to a rough rectangle. This I spread with a filling made of brown sugar, mixed fruit, cinnamon, mixed spice and butter (actually low-fat canola spread, in deference to Dad's cholesterol levels). With the filling on, I rolled up the dough, cut it carefully into 12 pieces, and placed them in a sponge roll tin to bake.

The given baking time was 25 minutes, so I set the timer for 20. Even before the 20-minute mark, the buns were looking risen and golden, so I started work on the glaze, a mixture of water, gelatine and sugar, heated until the sugar and gelatine dissolve. This was ready quite quickly, so I was able to glaze the buns the moment they came out of the oven.

With the buns baked and cooling, I turned to the tricky task of getting cat into carrier. She'd retreated into the couch, her favourite hidey-hole, and I had to pull it half to bits to get her out. Even when I managed to grab her, getting those flailing claws into the carrier was a mammoth episode. Still, I eventually got her to the vet, where she received an unalarming verdict of stress-induced bladder infection.

Since I had to try and de-stress the cat, get her to eat something then take her medicine, and find a way to induce her to drink more, heading to Timaru overnight was not really on the cards. So, once again, no freshly-made Chelsea buns for Dad. Of course, I was still making the day trip for Nana's birthday lunch on Sunday, so I packed up the buns and took them down with me.

When the buns were warm from the oven, they were delicious: soft, fruity and spicy. Certainly the biggest success I've had from the 'breads and buns' chapter, though considering my history with yeast-based recipes, that's not saying much! By the time they got to Dad, they were a day old and really needed a zap in the microwave before eating, but he seemed perfectly happy with them. At least, despite two earthquakes and one sick cat, he got his Chelsea buns in the end.

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