The greatness of the bun all lies in the bread itself. This isn’t just any white bread recipe, as you might think – it’s rather like a milk loaf recipe, but with a bit of sugar for a subtle sweetness.
First, weigh out your flours, yeast and salt (try and keep your salt and yeast on opposite sides of the bowl until everything’s mixed in). Rub your butter into your flour like you were making pastry, then add your sugar and mix everything together.
Add your milk and use a wooden spoon to combine everything into a big blob of dough. Use your hands to mop up any stray flour from the sides of the bowl. Once it’s all together, cover the bowl with cling film and leave for 30 minutes to an hour.
Your dough should be a bit airy and lighter, but still look a right mess. Bash any air out of it, and work it a bit, stretching and folding it around the bowl. Re-cover with cling film and rest for an hour or so. Or chuck it in the fridge and leave it for 8-12 hours (overnight works well).
Once about doubled in size, turn your dough out onto a well-floured surface and make into one big long sausage shape. Cut it into 12 roughly equal chunks and gently roll each into shapes that resemble thin sausages. Place these on a tray or roasting tin lined with baking paper to prove for one last hour.
About 30 minutes before you’re going to bake, preheat your oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas 7.
Once doubled in size again, place your buns in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until a deep golden brown on top.
When the buns are just out the oven, make the icing. Just gently mix together about half a box of icing sugar with a few tablespoons of water – it should be gloopy and runny, but flow quite slowly. Add more icing sugar or water as required. Dunk each bun upside down in the icing, letting any excess drain, then sit the right way up. Leave to cool before enjoying, if you can.
With a sharp knife and a piping bag full of your favourite jam, you can make jam-filled buns! Just make a hole with the knife nearly the whole length of the bun deep, then squirt a splodge of jam in.