Episode 10, GBBO 2015, Signature Bake

Iced Buns

I couldn’t find much on the history of iced buns, likely because they are basically plain buns with icing on top. Not much to see here. But apparently they are one of those nostalgic bakes that everyone in Britain grew up on. Whether they had them as part of their school lunches (or school dinners, as they are known in the U.K.) or purchased them at a local bakery, it seems that everyone knows, and loves, the simple iced bun.

They look like smallish hot dog buns (and I did read one blog post that said they would usually turn up on the school dinners menu the day after hot dogs were served) with a strip of icing on top. Usually, though, they are made with enriched dough, and sometimes they are split horizontally and sandwiched with jam or cream or both.

Here, of course, we are making the fancy version. For this signature bake, the judges wanted 16 filled iced buns — eight each of two different flavors. They needed to be made of enriched dough, and Paul Hollywood preferred a batch bake, which means the buns are touching as they bake, so they must be ripped apart before filling. 

This being the 2015 Bake-Off final, Mary Berry was looking for buns that were “cram-jam full of flavor — a lovely, soft, beautifully textured bun, and the icing, when you just get your teeth in, should be soft, not crisp.” And Paul said, “An iced bun is a thing of beauty. There’s nowhere to hide, from the icing to the bun to the filling,” the bakers need to “produce perfection.”

Raspberry jam with almond diplomat cream.

For my iced buns, I made a nutmeg-scented roll filled with raspberry jam and almond diplomat cream and frosted with amaretto icing, and a cardamom-scented bun filled with walnut frangipane and Chantilly cream and frosted with maple icing.

I started with the enriched dough recipe Tamal used for his iced buns. After the first proof, I divided the dough in half and kneaded nutmeg and almond extract into one half of the dough and cardamom into the other half. Then I formed them into sausage-shaped rolls and placed them side by side on baking sheets to prove one more time before baking. (I confess I need more practice shaping rolls. Mine were not very uniform.)

Walnut frangipane with Chantilly cream.

For the fillings, I made raspberry jam, pushing it through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Then I made walnut frangipane, using a classic French-style recipe — which starts with a cooked pastry cream rather than utilizing raw eggs — substituting walnuts for the usual almonds.  I also made the almond cream that Nadiya used in her iced buns.

Once the buns were out of the oven and cooled, I sliced them open and spread the jam on the nutmeg-scented buns and frangipane on the cardamom-scented ones. Then I piped the almond diplomat cream on top of the raspberry jam and Chantilly cream on top of the walnut frangipane. 

For the icing, I used fondant icing sugar, a finely sifted powdered sugar made from sucrose and dried glucose syrup. I tried it for the first time in my Religieuse a l’ancienne and found that it makes a nice stiff, glossy icing. If you are unable to find it, you can substitute regular powdered sugar, but you may need to reduce the amount of liquid. I added amaretto and a little pink food coloring to the icing sugar for the almond buns, and for the walnut buns, I used maple syrup and water, adding just a few drops of maple extract to turn the fondant sugar into a fragrant, maple-y icing.

Iced buns are admittedly hard to eat. As soon as you take a bite, the filling tends to squeeze out the sides. But I loved the combination of flavors. Walnut and maple are a classic combo, and the nuts offset the sweetness of the icing and the cream. If I had any criticism, it would be that the combination of almond filling and amaretto icing made the almond buns a little too sweet, but my neighbor, whom I shared them with, said he thought it was just right.

Raspberry & Almond Iced Buns and Walnut & Maple Iced Buns

Recipes for the dough and fondant icing adapted from Tamal Ray
Credit for almond cream: Nadiya Hussain
Credit for frangipane: AllRecipes.com
Recipe for raspberry jam adapted from BBC.co.uk
Credit for Chantilly cream: Tamal Ray

For the dough:

  • 7/8 c. (7 fl. oz.) whole milk
  • ¾ c. boiling water
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 c. bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/3 c. superfine (baker’s) sugar
  • 1¼ t. salt
  • 4½ t. (two ¼ oz. packets) fast-action yeast
  • 5½ T. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 t. cardamom
  • ½ t. nutmeg
  • 1 t. almond extract

    For the raspberry jam:

    • 7 oz. raspberries
    • 1 c. + 2T. sugar
    • 1 t. pectin (I used powdered Sure-Jell)
    • 1½ T. butter

    For the almond cream:

    • 1 1/8 c. (9 fl. oz.) whole milk
    • 2½ T. superfine (baker’s) sugar
    • 2 large egg yolks
    • 2 T. cornstarch
    • ¼ t. salt
    • 1 t. almond extract
    • ¼ c. whipping cream

    For the walnut frangipane:

    • 1 c. 2% milk
    • 1 large egg
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • ¾ c. sugar, divided
    • ¼ c. all-purpose flour
    • 4 T. unsalted butter, softened
    • ½ c. finely ground walnuts
    • 1 t. vanilla extract

    For amaretto icing:

    • 1 c. fondant icing sugar*
    • 2 T. amaretto**
    • 1 T. water
    • Pink gel food coloring
    • Sliced almonds, for decoration

    For maple icing:

    • 1 c. fondant icing sugar*
    • 3 T. maple syrup
    • 1½ T. water
    • 2-3 drops maple extract (to taste)

    For Chantilly cream:

    • 1 c. whipping cream
    • 1 t. vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
    • ¼ c. powdered sugar


    1. To make the dough, first combine milk with boiling water in a measuring pitcher, then beat in the eggs. In the bowl of a free-standing mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the dry ingredients and mix briefly to combine. Add butter and egg mixture and mix for 5 minutes.
    2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for another few minutes. Transfer to a large, lightly greased bowl and cover with a dish towel. Let dough rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
    3. Once the dough has risen, divide it into two equal halves and flatten them out. Combine nutmeg and almond extract and spread over one of the halves. Sprinkle cardamom onto the other. Knead each piece of dough to knock out the air and distribute the spices throughout.
    4. Divide each piece into eight equal portions. Roll into 16 balls and then shape into “fingers” about 4½ to 5 inches long. Place them on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing the rolls about an inch apart so they will be touching once they’ve risen. (Be sure to keep the two flavors separate. You might want to mark the parchment paper to keep track of which batch is which.) Leave in a warm place to prove again for 30 minutes to an hour, until doubled in size.
    5. Preheat oven to 410°F. Bake rolls for 9 minutes, then swap the trays around in the oven and bake for another 4 minutes to ensure they brown evenly. Set aside to cool.
    6. To make the raspberry jam, put berries in a small, deep pan with the sugar and pectin, and cook over low heat. Use a potato masher or fork to mash the berries. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Pour the jam mixture through a sieve into a heat-proof bowl, pushing the pulp through and scraping the pulp from the bottom of the sieve. Then pour the strained juice and seedless pulp back into the pan and stir.
    7. Bring to a boil and boil vigorously for 4-5 minutes or until the temperature reaches 220°F on an instant-read thermometer. Drop a little jam onto a saucer and place it in the fridge for a minute, then run a finger through the jam. If the surface wrinkles, the jam is done. If not, boil for another minute or so, retesting after each additional minute until it’s ready. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Transfer to a flat baking pan and refrigerate until set.
    8. To make the almond cream, warm the milk and sugar in a saucepan. In a heat-proof bowl, whisk together egg yolks and cornstarch. While whisking, slowly add the hot milk to the egg mixture. Return mixture to the pan and heat, stirring continuously, until thickened. (Reserve the bowl to use for making the frangipane.) Continue cooking and stirring for 2-3 more minutes to cook out the starchy flavor. Remove pan from heat and add the salt and almond extract.
    9. Transfer pastry cream to a clean bowl and cover surface with plastic wrap; leave to cool completely. (Reserve pan for making frangipane.) Right before assembling the iced buns, whip the cream until soft peaks form, then fold into the cooled pastry cream.
    10. To make the frangipane, pour milk into the same saucepan used for the almond cream and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
    11. In the same bowl used for the almond cream, beat the egg and yolk with ¼ cup sugar until foamy. Whisk in the flour, then slowly add the hot milk, whisking continuously until the mixture is smooth and lump-free. Pour back into the saucepan.
    12. Over low heat, bring mixture to a simmer and cook until thickened, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted. Add the remaining ½ cup sugar, walnuts and flavoring. Let cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin from forming. (Can be made 3-4 days ahead of time if refrigerated.)
    13. To make the amaretto icing, beat fondant icing sugar* with amaretto and water, using a wooden spoon, until smooth and thick. Add food coloring and stir until well incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a wide, flat-tipped nozzle.
    14. To make the maple icing, beat the fondant icing sugar* with the maple syrup, using a wooden spoon. Then add water, ½ tablespoon at a time, until icing is smooth and thick. Add maple extract to taste. Stir until well incorporated. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a wide, flat-tipped nozzle.
    15. To make the Chantilly cream, put all ingredients in a large bowl and whip until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large plain nozzle. (If you haven’t whipped the cream to add to the almond cream, do so now.)
    16. To assemble, slice all the buns in half lengthwise. Pipe amaretto icing on the top half of each nutmeg-flavored bun. Pipe maple icing on the top half of each cardamom bun.
    17. On the bottom half of each cardamom bun, spread a layer of walnut frangipane. Then pipe Chantilly cream on top of the frangipane. Place the maple-iced tops on top of the cream.
    18. On the bottom half of each nutmeg-flavored bun, spread a layer of raspberry jam, then pipe almond cream on top of the jam. Place the amaretto-iced tops on top of the cream. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.

    *Can substitute powdered sugar.
    **Alternatively, you can substitute 1-2 tablespoons water and 1 t. almond extract for the amaretto. Add water a tablespoon at a time to avoid making the icing too thin.

    Up next: Mille-feuille

    2 thoughts on “Iced Buns”

      1. Thanks! I’ve never tried to stay within the same time limits as the bakers on Bake Off. It would make it too stressful, and I bake because I enjoy it. Sometimes I spread it out over several days. In this case, the fillings can be made ahead of time, or you could use store-bought jam and a simple Chantilly cream (i.e., sweetened whipped cream.) I love making yeast breads because I find it relaxing; there’s down time during the proving and the baking. If you try making these iced buns, let me know how they turn out!


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