In the UK Belgian buns are always the star of the bakery window. They grab your attention with their shiny white icing and bright red cherries. Incidentally I don’t think that they have anything at all to do with Belgium.
But in spite of how pretty they look they aren’t something that I would ever buy because I absolutely loathe icing. I don’t know why, it’s not as though I don’t have a sweet tooth, I just always find icing to be a bit too much. I do love the soft, sweet dough laced with plump sultanas and hints of lemon though so I thought why not top them with Belgian chocolate instead of all that gooey icing. Seriously, when has chocolate ever made anything worse?
400g strong white bread flour
7g sachet dried yeast
30g sugar (plus 1 tbsp)
pinch of salt
200ml warm milk (plus 1 tbsp)
zest of 1 lemon
100g good quality milk chocolate
12 glace cherries
Mix together the flour, yeast, salt and 30g of sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the 200ml of warm milk and the egg and then use this to bring the dry ingredients together to form a nice soft dough.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes or so (or use a mixer fitted with a dough hook). The dough should become smooth, soft and stretchy. Put the dough into a large, lightly greased bowl and then loosely cover it. Pop it somewhere nice and warm and leave it for around 1 hour, so that it can double in size.
Once the dough has risen take it out of the bowl and give it another brief knead. Roll and stretch the dough out on a lightly floured surface until you have quite a large rectangle.
Brush the surface with a tablespoon of milk and then sprinkle on a tablespoon of sugar. Spread the surface with the sultanas and lemon zest. Tightly roll the dough up, starting at the long edge. Slice the roll into 12 equal pieces and lay them flat on a large greased baking tray. Recover the buns and leave them to rise a second time, again for about an hour. Whilst this is happening you can pre-heat your oven to 200°c.
Once the buns have risen bake them for 15 minutes, until they are golden on the outside with a soft, thin crust. Pop them on a wire rack to cool.
Melt the chocolate (either in a double boiler or using short bursts in a microwave) and then spoon or drizzle it onto the cooled buns. Make the chocolate fairly thick in the centre of the buns and top each one with a glace cherry. Leave the chocolate to set before devouring.