- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 30g fresh yeast (from health food shops or shipton-mill.com) or 2 x 7g sachets dried yeast
- 250-300ml whole milk, warmed
- 35g unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for brushing and greasing
- 2 medium free-range eggs, beaten
- 10 generous tbsp plum jam (see tip)
- Poppy seeds and icing sugar to serve
For the vanilla sauce
- 500ml whole milk
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 2 medium free-range egg yolks
- 200g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 60g melted butter
- Mix the flour with the salt and sugar in a large bowl. Mix the yeast with 2 tbsp of the warm milk and leave it for a few minutes until it starts to froth. Add this and the rest of the milk, the 35g melted butter and the eggs to the flour. Mix to form a soft dough.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead vigorously for 10 minutes (or with a dough hook in an electric mixer for 5 minutes). Put the dough back in the cleaned bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave to rise somewhere warm for an hour or so until doubled in size.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet. Knock back the dough, then divide into 10 equal pieces. Flatten each piece out on the work surface, then dollop a spoonful of the plum jam into the centre. Bring the dough around the jam and seal well by pinching the edges together with your fingers.
- Put the parcels on the greased baking sheet, cover with the tea towel and leave to prove for 30-60 minutes or until doubled in size.
- To make the sauce, heat the milk in a pan until almost boiling (it will be steaming). Whisk together the cornflour, egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl, then pour in the hot milk, whisking continuously. Return to the pan and put over a low heat. Cook, stirring, until it is lovely and thick. Add the melted butter and keep warm while you steam the buns.
- Bring a very large half-filled pan of water to the boil. The traditional Austrian steaming method is to brush a clean cotton tea towel with melted butter, stretch it over the pan so that it droops a little but doesn’t touch the water, then secure with twine. Put the dumplings, a few at a time, in the tea towel and cover with the lid. (Or simply use a bamboo/ metal steamer lined with baking paper.) Steam the dumplings for about 10-15 minutes.
- Brush with melted butter, then scatter with poppy seeds and sprinkle with icing sugar. Serve with the vanilla sauce.
- You will need to steam the buns in batches – make sure there’s always some water in the bottom of the pan. A sharp-tasting jam such as raspberry would work well if you don’t have any plum jam.
- Make the vanilla sauce up ￼ to 2 days ahead and chill, ￼covered. Warm through on the hob to serve