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What is a Belgian Bun?
Got a sweet tooth or sudden craving for a dessert pastry that takes less than 30 minutes to bake? A Belgian Bun is quite literally the icing and cherry on top.
A sweet bread dessert, the Belgian Bun is a large and soft bun that gets its shape by swirling a bread-like dough into a round shape.It’s quite similar to a Chelsea Bun except with icing on top and filled with either sultanas or lemon curd (for a modern twist).
They’re surprisingly easy to make (don’t let that pastry scare you!) and don’t require a lot of ingredients at all. Let’s take a look at how to make the perfect Belgian Bun below.
The History of the Belgian Bun
Contrary to what the name suggests, the Belgian Bun cannot actually be traced back to Belgium.
In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a reliable source confirming the origin of this pastry, although some say the mysterious dough bun was inspired by the popular Belgian pastry couque suisse.
Ingredients in the Belgian Bun
As with all pastries, the Belgian Bun is made with flour, yeast, butter, milk, sugar and eggs. In addition, sultanas, currants or raisins are added to it. Some like to add a touch of cinnamon as well.
Once the buns have come out of the oven, a white icing is drizzled on top and then garnished with a candied cherry.
For a modern twist, some people swap out the sultanas, currants or raisins for a lemon curd (or add both).
Traditional Belgian Buns, as with most sweet baked goods, are packed with richness and flavor — and calories, unfortunately. For the most part, Belgian Buns are high in sugar, fat and salt, and not much else in nutritional value.
However, if prepared without refined sugar, dairy or eggs — i.e. you bake a vegan version of the recipe — you can create a much healthier, but still tasty and guilt-free treat. We’ll dive deeper into this in the recipes section.
How to make a Belgian Bun
While Belgian Buns take about 20 minutes to bake, they will require about 45 minutes of prep time as the dough needs time to rise.
Simply mix flour, yeast, butter milk and eggs together in a bowl until a soft dough forms. Knead the dough until it feels smooth but still elastic. Mould it into a ball, place it in a bowl and cover. Leave it to rise for 45 min - 1 hour or until it’s doubled in size.
The dough should then be rolled lengthways into a swirl and placed on a baking tray to bake for about 20 minutes.
The perfect swirl on a Belgian Bun
The trick to making the perfect Belgian Buns lies in the roll.
To create that beautiful round swirl, you want to roll up your dough somewhat tightly — but not too tight that the dough has no room to expand during proofing.
Ideally, you want the dough to rise outwards and not be forced upwards so that the roll doesn’t come undone, but it also doesn’t lose its shape.
Can you use a breadmaker to make Belgian Buns?
Short on time or have no elbow grease? Why not make the pastry in a breadmaker — simply add all the ingredients to make the dough into the breadmaker, select the dough cycle and leave it to work for you instead.
We’ll take a look at the specific steps and method to making a Belgian Bun in the recipes section.
Tips and Tricks when making Belgian Buns
Whether you’re a novice or seasoned baker, here’s a few tips and tricks to making the perfect bun:
- Yeast: Should be combined with warm water or milk to activate it. Otherwise it will not rise
- Dough: Should still be slightly smooth and elastic in texture. Leave it to rise in a warm place
- Glaze: Pop on as soon as the buns are out the oven. If you plan to freeze the buns, do so without the glazing and instead add it when serving.
Belgian Bun Recipes
There are two to three components to making the perfect Belgian Bun, depending on what you fancy: the dough, the lemon curd, and the icing.
As I mentioned above, adding lemon curd is not typical in a traditional recipe, but it is growing in popularity. We’ve included this step just in case!
For a healthier, guilt-free version of the traditional recipe you can swap out the sugar, dairy and eggs for a plant-based milk, olive oil or vegan butter, and a sugar-free glaze.
Belgian Bun FAQ's
What are Belgian buns?
Belgian buns are a type of sweet bun typically made with flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and milk. They may also contain raisins, currants, or other dried fruits.
Where do Belgian buns come from?
Belgian buns originated in Belgium, hence the name.
How are Belgian buns made?
Belgian buns are typically made by mixing flour, sugar, butter, eggs, and milk together to form a dough. This dough is then rolled out and cut into individual pieces which are then formed into small balls. Once baked, the balls of dough are often coated in a sugar syrup or glaze.
What do Belgian buns taste like?
Belgian buns are typically sweet, due to the addition of sugar in the dough. They may also have a slight buttery flavor from the butter used in the dough.
Are there any variations of Belgian buns?
There are several variations of Belgian buns, including those made with chocolate, coffee, or almond flavoring.
How should Belgian buns be served?
Belgian buns can be served plain or with a variety of toppings, such as frosting, icing, or jam.
What is the shelf life of Belgian buns?
Belgian buns will typically last for 2-3 days when stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
Can Belgian buns be frozen?
Yes, Belgian buns can be frozen for up to 3 months.
How many calories are in a Belgian bun?
A standard Belgian bun contains approximately 150-200 calories.
Are Belgian buns healthy?
Belgian buns are not considered to be a particularly healthy food, due to their high sugar and fat content. However, they can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
What is the history of Belgian buns?
The exact origins of Belgian buns are unclear, but they are thought to have originated in Belgium in the early 19th century.
Are Belgian buns vegan?
No, Belgian buns are not vegan as they contain eggs and milk.
Are Belgian buns gluten-free?
No, Belgian buns are not gluten-free as they contain wheat flour.
Do Belgian buns contain nuts?
No, Belgian buns do not typically contain nuts. However, some variations may include almond flavoring or chopped almonds as a topping.
How many buns are in a standard package?
A standard package of Belgian buns contains 6-12 buns.
What is the price of Belgian buns?
The price of Belgian buns varies depending on the brand and where they are purchased. However, they are typically fairly affordable.
Where can I buy Belgian buns?
Belgian buns can be purchased at most grocery stores or bakeries. They can also be ordered online from specialty retailers.
How long do Belgian buns take to bake?
Belgian buns typically take 15-20 minutes to bake.
Can I make Belgian buns at home?
Yes, it is possible to make Belgian buns at home with a few simple ingredients. Recipes can be found online or in cookbooks.
What are some popular toppings for Belgian buns?
Some popular toppings for Belgian buns include frosting, icing, jam, or chocolate.
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