Nobody wants dry buns, but often home baked ones can dry out before you’ve had chance to enjoy them. Of course the way in which you store your baked goods matters, so a cotton bag is great to preserve freshness.
I often hear people complaining that their home baked goods don’t keep as fresh for as long as shop bought ones, but the mass manufacturers keep their baked goods fresh by adding a cocktail of preserving agents. Pick up a packet of shop bought hot cross buns for example and you will see that most of them contain mono- and diglycerides, manufactured from oil, such as soybean, sunflower, or palm oil. These are emulsifiers which provide a consistent texture, prevent separation and they are used in most baked products to stop them from getting stale. They also give body and improve consistency, but just like partially hydrogenated oils, they still contain dangerous trans fats. These trans fats do not have to be reported on our food labels, but they are still thought to be dangerous to your health as trans fats can contribute significantly to arterial plaque formation.
So how do we home bakers keep our baked goods moist for longer? Can we can add our own ingredient that adds moisture and extends shelf life? Yes - the answer as a home baker is to use a small amount of glycerine.
Glycerine as it is a clear, odourless, sweet liquid that is often used in fondant making. It is also one of the components of making nitro-glycerine for dynamite … but don’t worry, I promise no exploding buns! Vegetable glycerine is actually produced using an extraction process called hydrolysis, when the oils are put under a combined force of pressure, temperature, and water. The ester bond breaks and causes the glycerine to split away from fatty acids, and the purified vegetable glycerine has a texture similar to oil due to its organic molecular makeup.
You don’t need much; just a tablespoon does the trick of moistening your baked goods and prolonging their shelf life.
So I’ve used glycerine in these chocolate buns. Huge chocolate buns, gently spiced with vanilla and nutmeg, they are deeply flavoured, but not too sweet, and I have to admit that I enjoyed making these buns almost as much as I enjoyed eating them! My last tip for keeping buns soft is to put them into your bread bag while still warm.
For a printable version of the recipe, or to leave a comment, follow the link.