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Sourdough Apple Rum Raisin Buns

Once upon a time sourdough was used to raise most cakes. The sort of cakes we eat now--like Betty Crocker layer cakes--simply weren't available. What was more common were sweet yeast-bread-type creations more like hot cross buns or pannetone. What I'm offering you today is in that vein. Sourdough apple raisin rum buns are slightly sweet little buns filled with moist apple pieces and rum-plumped raisins (or use dried cranberries if you're out of raisins or half of each, if you like, and yes, you can use real rum, but extract is cheaper). The buns are just sweet enough and not like the cloyingly sugared sticky buns at the grocery store (which also are dry--ick!). White whole-wheat flour adds whole-grain texture and a bit of heartiness that complements the apples and raisins. I use baking powder and baking soda in this version of the buns, but, if you'd prefer, you can skip them and just let the buns rise on their own before baking them. It will take longer, and the buns will have a more pronounced sourdough flavor. Either way the apple rum raisin buns are incredibly good and a special, but reasonably healthy, treat.

Sourdough Apple Rum Raisin Buns

Sourdough Apple Rum Raisin Buns -- Makes 18

1 cup of sourdough discard/starter (I used rye-based starter)

1 cup of apple cider

2 cups of white whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup of canola oil

1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

1/4 cup of sugar

Mix the discard/starter with the apple cider and then beat in the white whole-wheat flour, oil, and sugars. Let the mixture sit for 4-6 hours or until it rises a bit--by about one-quarter-to-one-third (it won't look like much, but it will be a little puffed/spongy when you stir it later). While the mixture is rising, combine in a measuring cup:

1/2 cup of raisins

1/2 cup of apple cider or water

1 teaspoon of rum extract

Let the raisins sit while the flour mixture rises. After the flour mixture has risen for 4-6 hours, stir in:

1 cup of all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of allspice

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1/2 teaspoon of baking soda

Stir everything well. Then add:

2 cups of chopped, peeled apples (cut into smallish bits--1/4-inch or so)

The raisins you've soaked (drain them but save the soaking liquid)

Stir everything well. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and coat baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray or line them with parchment paper. Drop 9 mounds of batter (about 3 tablespoons each) on each of the baking sheets, leaving about an inch between the mounds. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes or until they're puffed and beginning to brown. While the buns are baking, combine:

The reserved soaking liquid (about 1/4 cup)

1 cup of confectioners' sugar

Stir the liquid and sugar to form a glaze. After you remove the buns from the oven, let them cool a few minutes and then drizzle them with the glaze. Let the buns cool before eating them or eat them warm, fragrant, sticky, and intensely good!

Note: If you'd like to omit the baking powder and baking soda, after the sponge had risen a bit, just add the remainder of the ingredients (except for the glaze ingredients), stir the mixture, drop mounds of batter 2 inches apart on greased/parchment-covered baking sheets, and let the batter rise for 6-12 hours or until about doubled in volume. Then bake the buns at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes and glaze them when they've cooled slightly.

Sourdough Apple Rum Raisin Buns

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