Kentish huffkin

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Legend has it that the baker’s wife, who was in a bad mood or a ‘huff’, walked into the bakery and angrily stuck her finger in the buns that were ready to go into the oven. The baker stubbornly baked them like that and it turned out that the dimpled buns were very popular!

Ingredients

  • 15 g (½ oz) dried yeast
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) lukewarm full-fat milk
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) strong white bread flour
  • 20 g (¾ oz) raw (demerara) sugar or white sugar
  • 60 g ( oz) soft butter or lard, in chunks
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) lukewarm water
  • 5 g ( oz) fine sea salt
  • flour, for dusting

Method

Add the yeast to the lukewarm milk and stir briefly and gently to activate it. The yeast will start to foam up in clusters, which means it is ready for use. Combine the flour and sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and put the butter or lard on top. Pour in half of the yeast mixture and start kneading. When the milk and the lard or butter are completely absorbed, add the rest of the yeast mixture, followed by the water. Knead the dough for 5 minutes, then let it stand for a few minutes (at this point the dough will be very wet). Add the salt and then knead for 10 minutes, scraping the dough off the dough hook and side of the bowl if needed, until the dough has come together in a smooth and elastic dough that is neither too dry nor terribly wet.

Leave the dough covered for 1 hour until it has doubled in quantity.

Briefly knead the dough and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Take a piece of dough and lightly flatten it on your work surface, then pull the outer parts in like a purse and gently squeeze together like a dumpling so that the dough can no longer split open while rising. Turn the dough over so the squeezed ends are on the bottom. It should be nice and smooth on top – if not, flatten it and start again. Place on a baking tray and continue shaping the dough.

Cover the tray of buns with a light cotton cloth and wrap it in a large plastic bag (I keep one especially for this purpose). Rest the dough for 1 hour or until the buns have doubled in size. Towards the end of the resting time, preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F).

Dust the huffkins with flour and gently pat them down a little to flatten them. Push your finger into each bun until you feel the tray. I can never get enough of the sensation of making dimples in the dough! Bake the buns for about 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

The next day, the buns can be revived in a hot oven for a few minutes. You can also freeze the baked buns, thaw and then pop in a hot oven for a few minutes so your buns are just as they were when they were first baked.