Makes 8 buns
25 g fresh yeast (1 tsp or 7 g of dry yeast)
60 ml water
200 g flour
50 g of butter, softened
50 g sugar
1 tbsp pine nuts
4 tbsp (about 70 g) raisins, soaked in water for 10 minutes, then drained and pat dry
1 tbsp of candied orange peel, chopped
pinch of salt
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water
fresh cream, whipped to stiff peaks (you will need about 2-3 tbsp per bun)
Dissolve the yeast in about ¼ cup (60 ml) water in a wide bowl and set aside 10 minutes. Add a quarter of the flour (50 g) and combine to create a smooth paste – this is the yeast starter or sponge. Cover with a tea towel and let rest 15-20 minutes in a warm spot where it should create plenty of bubbles.
Place the rest of the flour into a large, wide bowl (Italians like to make their dough on a flat, clean surface like a board, forming the flour into a sort of pyramid). Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour into it the yeast starter, egg, sugar, butter and pinch of salt. By hand, combine the ingredients by whisking with a fork from the centre outwards, incorporating the flour bit by bit. You want a manageable but soft dough that’s not too sticky or too dry. Turn onto a well-floured surface and knead you have a very smooth, soft elastic ball of dough, about 8 minutes. You can also use a mixer for this procedure.
Place the ball in an oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Let rise/rest in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.
Carefully turn the ball onto a floured surface, flatten the ball into a rectangle and add the raisins, pine nuts, zest and candied fruit, if using, to the dough and roll the dough from the short end. Flatten again and roll from another side. The raisins should be somewhat evenly distributed.
Now divide the dough into about 8 even balls (weigh them if you want to be precise and have them come out all the same size, roughly 2.5-2.8 oz or 75-80 g each) and, rolling them into small oval shapes, place them one by one onto a baking sheet layered with baking paper, leaving plenty of room between each bun. Let them rise for 30 minutes in a warm spot away from drafts, covered with a tea towel.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF/180ºC and cook for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and just golden on top and bottom. They should remain soft and fluffy inside.
While they are baking, you can make a quick syrup by boiling 2 tbsp of sugar in 2 tbsp of water until dissolved. Brush this syrup onto the hot buns and let the syrup dry and the buns cool completely before splitting open and filling with freshly whipped cream.
Note: You can double this recipe, but double all the ingredients except the yeast, i.e. you only need 25 g of fresh yeast to make 16 of these buns. If you are using more than one tray to cook these, I recommend baking only one tray at a time and placing it in the middle of the oven.