Orange and almond little bun recipe by Dee Rettali

Baking with Fortitude: 3 little bun recipes to brighten afternoon tea breaks

Posted by for Food and Drink

All products on this page have been selected by the editorial team, however Stylist may make commission on some products purchased through affiliate links in this article

The perfect, quick-fix sweet treat is a hard category to fill. Thankfully we’re getting closer, as Dee Rettali brings us three bitesize, little bun recipes from her new cookbook out this month.

When we’re suspended in an overload of mid-week stress, it’s our snack breaks that provide a safe haven. Whether you’re an elevenses devotee or a mid-afternoon sweet treat fiend, there’s nothing better than taking five and tucking into a divinely saccharine dessert. And though we wish our breaks could extend on forever (and ever), reaching for something bite-sized is more achievable. Enter: the little bun. Think of it as your favourite muffin, just much, much smaller.

When it comes to flavourful bakes – little buns and all – few do it quite like revered artisan baker, Dee Rettali. Fellow bakery obsessives may already know her as the founder of Fortitude Bakehouse near London’s Russell Square, famed for its sourdough bakes, but beforehand, Rettali pioneered organic baking in London, creating a no-waste policy as head baker at Bumble Natural Foods in 1995 and she also crafted bakes at beloved coffee chain, Fernandez and Wells. 

Suffice to say, her bakery expertise is next to none. Lucky for us, she’s decided to share her wisdom in a new cookbook, Baking with Fortitude, out this month. As Rettali explains, tradition plays a huge part in her baking philosophy. In fact, she still uses the same methods that her mother and grandmother used while she was growing up on the Munster Blackwater river in Ireland, like fermenting fruit for a week. Though the prep can seem lengthy, rest assured that the literal fruits of your labour will be worth the wait when snack time rolls around.

Baking with Fortitude by Dee Rettali cookbook
Baking with Fortitude by Dee Rettali

Those with a penchant for floral fancy will fall head over heels for Rettali’s rose and pistachio little buns. A blend of rosewater, almonds and crumbled pistachio, if it’s subdued sweetness with a nutty kick you’re after, look no further.

When indulgence calls, Rettali’s orange and almond little buns provide all that and more. Every inch of orange is transformed into a purée for a truly deeply fruity flavour mixed into the batter. Better still, the recipe implores us to douse our bun in apricot jam glaze – you’ll be hard pressed not to take an Insta reel of this one…

Looking for a tantalising new flavour combination? Rettali’s raspberry and coconut little buns fit the bill to a T. Whether you yearn for a little bitterness or simply have an affinity for coconut-laced anything, these buns are the perfect moreish dessert.

  • Rose and pistachio little buns

    Rose and pistachio little buns recipes by Dee Rettali
    Rose and pistachio little buns by Dee Rettali

    Dee says: At Fortitude, I top these rosewater-flavoured buns with organic dried rose buds from the Merzouga valley in Morocco. I have visited this region on many occasions; you are always greeted by the heady floral smell of organic roses.

    Makes 12 little buns

    Ingredients

    • 12-hole muffin tin or easy-release silicone mould, greased well with oil
    • 170ml pomace oil (or light virgin olive oil)
    • 200g unrefined golden caster sugar
    • 4 eggs
    • 125g fine semolina
    • 50g pistachios, finely ground into a flour
    • 200g ground almonds
    • 1 tbsp baking powder
    • 25ml rosewater

    To decorate

    • 250g icing sugar
    • 25g finely chopped pistachios
    • 12 dried rose buds (optional)

    Method

    In a large bowl, beat together the pomace oil and caster sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and continue to mix until combined, but do not overmix.

    In a separate bowl, combine the semolina, ground pistachios, ground almonds and baking powder. Fold the semolina mixture into the whipped olive oil mix using a metal spoon. When it is almost combined, add the rosewater and gently fold through. Leave overnight in the fridge. 

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6.

    Fold any oil that is sitting on the surface back into the mixture to combine again. Making sure that the muffin tin or mould is greased well with oil, divide the mixture equally between the holes of the tin or mould, then place it on a baking tray. Bake in the centre of the hot oven for 22 minutes or until the buns feel set to the touch. Transfer the buns from the tin or mould to a wire cooling rack and leave to cool completely.

    To make the icing, mix the icing sugar with just enough warm water to make a thick paste. Spread the top of each bun with the icing using the back of a spoon and sprinkle over the pistachios. If preferred, place a dried rose bud in the middle of each bun.

    When stored in an airtight container in the fridge, these little buns will keep for 7 days.

    Notes

    To ferment, once mixed, store the cake batter in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days to allow it to ferment. Fold any oil sitting on the surface back into the mixture before baking.

  • Raspberry and coconut little buns

    Raspberry and coconut little buns recipes by Dee Rettali
    Raspberry and coconut little buns by Dee Rettali

    Dee says: This is one of our most popular gluten-free desserts, which also came about almost by accident when 50kg of desiccated coconut was delivered to us by mistake (twice our normal order). Now we make hundreds of these buns each week that we sell at the bakehouse and deliver to our wholesale customers, who order them in large quantities because they keep really well.

    Makes 8 little buns

    Ingredients

    • 6-hole silicone bun mould or muffin tin (use two mould or bake in two batches)
    • 250g ground almonds
    • 90g desiccated coconut
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 200g salted butter, softened
    • 250g unrefined golden caster sugar
    • 6 small eggs
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 125g fresh raspberries, plus extra to serve
    • 1 tablespoon icing sugar, to dust

    Method

    Combine the ground almonds, desiccated coconut and baking powder in a bowl. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and beat with a paddle attachment on high speed for 6 minutes. Add the eggs in three batches, mixing between each addition. Next, add the vanilla extract. Reduce the speed of the mixer to slow and add the almond and coconut mixture in three batches. Finally fold in the raspberries by hand. Once combined, put the mixing bowl in the fridge for 35 minutes.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Place the bun mould or muffin tin on a baking tray and divide the batter equally between the holes. Bake in the centre of the hot oven for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Once baked, leave the buns in the mould or tin until completely cool.

    Before serving, dust with icing sugar and top with a few raspberries.

    When stored in an airtight container in the fridge, these buns will keep for 7 days. You can put them back into a hot oven (200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6) for 6 minutes and they will crisp up but still stay moist in the middle.

  • Orange and almond little buns

    Orange and almond little bun recipe by Dee Rettali
    Orange and almond little buns by Dee Rettali

    Dee says: We make this recipe every day at the bakehouse in the form of a loaf cake – it is possibly our most popular at Fortitude – but for a change, I have baked them as little buns in a mould or muffin tin.

    Makes 8 little buns

    Ingredients

    • 6-hole silicone bun mould or muffin tin (use two moulds or bake in two batches)
    • 2 large oranges
    • 250g ground almonds
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 6 eggs
    • 250g unrefined golden caster sugar

    For the syrup

    • 100g unrefined golden caster sugar
    • Juice and zest of 1 large organic, unwaxed orange
    • 100ml water
    • 1 tablespoon orange flower water

    For the topping

    • Apricot jam, warmed, to glaze
    • 2 tablespoons shelled skinned
    • pistachios, finely chopped

    Method

    Place the oranges in a pan with a tight-fitting lid and add enough water to cover the fruit. Place the lid on the pan and bring the water to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the oranges are completely soft – this takes about 1 hour.

    Remove the oranges from the water using a slotted spoon and leave to cool completely. Once cool, transfer the whole oranges to a food processor and purée until smooth. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Combine the ground almonds and baking powder in a bowl.

    Place the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a mixer and whisk on medium/high for 5 minutes or until light, creamy and trebled in volume. Reduce the speed to low and add the almond mixture in three batches along with the orange purée, mixing between each addition. Leave the cake batter to sit for 10 minutes, then place the bun mould or muffin tin on a baking tray and divide the batter equally between the holes.

    Bake for 25 minutes or until firm to the touch. Once baked, leave the buns to cool in the mould or tin. To make the syrup, combine all the ingredients in a pan and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the syrup for a few minutes until it starts to thicken.

    Pour the warm syrup into a shallow dish. When the buns are cool, remove them from the moulds and rest them top-side down in the syrup. Leave to soak for 3 minutes.

    Before serving, glaze the tops of the buns with the warmed jam, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and spoon over a little extra syrup. When stored in an airtight container in the fridge, these buns will keep for 5–7 days.

Baking with Fortitude by Dee Rettali (Bloomsbury) is out 28 October

Photography: Laura Edwards

Share this article