Raisin buns (σταφιδόψωμα), are for the Greeks what croissants are for the French: a sweet doughy breakfast delicacy. Every morning you can find them on sale inlocal bakeries next to bread rings and cakes.
Raisins and sultanas are great sources of energy for the human body, exactly what you need with a cup of tea or coffee to start your day. For many centuries the small dark currants and the larger blond sultanas have been an essential part of the agricultural economy of the Peloponnese. At the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century, in particular, the English would import raisins in exchange for salted cod from the North Sea. As a result of this exchange,salted cod became, and still is,a special favorite at Peloponnesian tables.
When baking bread for the family, my grandmother would often save a piece of her sour dough to make a small loaf of raisin bread, or feta bread. The contradiction of the slightly sour taste of the bread with the sweetness of the raisins is something I always recall from her cooking. Although my grandmother didn’t use any flavoring, these buns today are usually flavored with cinnamon and can be made either with whole-wheat flour or a gluten free mix.
Makes 12 buns
80gr granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking soda
5gr dried yeast
120gr lukewarm water
450gr all purpose flour
½ tsp cinnamon (optional)
150gr raisins and/or sultanas
In a bowl add the lukewarm water, yeast and five tablespoons of the flour. Mix to combine, cover with a kitchen towel, and let stand in a warm spot until the yeast activates (about 20min).
Meanwhile, in a saucepan over medium heat add the milk and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat, add sugar and salt and mix to dissolve. Add the butter and baking soda and let it stand until the temperature of the mixture drops to being just warm.
Add the warm milk mixture to the yeast mixture and mix to combine. Gradually pour the rest of the flour, cinnamon (if used) and the raisins, mixing with your hands to form an elastic but firm dough. (This can also be done with a stand mixer if you prefer.) Cover the bowl again and let it rest in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size.
As soon as the dough has risen, transfer it onto a clean working surface and divide it into four pieces. Cut each piece into three smaller pieces and roll it in your palms to form round buns. Arrange the 12 buns on a baking pan lined with baking paper leaving some space between the buns.For the last time cover the buns and let them stand in a warm spot until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 180 C. Brush each bun with milk and bake for 20min or until golden brown. Transfer the baked buns onto a rack to cool and then you can store them in a cookie tin for a few days if you wish, but they are always better if consumed right away!