I often spend time looking through photographs of food with an appreciation for the artistry behind some of the creations. Sometimes when I attempt to recreate the recipes, even though I follow the steps closely, the results do not always look quite as appealing as the original photograph and I wonder if others have the same experience?
Recently, my niece introduced me to this particular recipe for Matcha Chocolate Avo Buns created by Anett Velsberg. I was so taken with them that I thought I would try my hand at my own version. This was a classic example when they did not look quite like the original photograph by Anett Velsberg pictured below. However, they were a lot of fun to make and I think of them as emoji-buns, each with an individual expression to reflect however you might be feeling on a particular day!
Despite the name, these goodies have no avocado in them. They are basically a sweet bread shaped like an avocado with matcha in the main dough to give a green avocado colour and cacao powder in the portion which represents the avocado stone. Once they are baked, the Emoji expressions are painted on with an edible marker. Their faces are simply to make you smile!
What is an Emoji?
Around the 1990s, according to Wired Guide to Emoji, emoticons represented initial netspeak and were very much part of the chatroom culture and included the basic :-) and :-( symbols.
The first emoji was created in 1999 in Japan and the word “emoji” translates literally to “picture character”. These tiny, emotive characters from 😕 to 😍🧁 to 👍🚴♀️ resemble a primitive language born of the digital world. Emoji can convey basic thoughts, feelings and simple messages and they are becoming a standard part of the way people communicate electronically.
Zapier refers to over 3,000 universal emoji which seems like a lot. However “if emoji is its own language, then we’re basically toddlers when it comes to speaking it. For starters, most English-speaking adults know about 42,000 words”. This helps put it in perspective although I wonder if there will ever be a time when electronic conversations are entirely made up of Emoji!
Recipe (by Anett Velsberg)
There is no doubt that these simple expressions can have a great impact in digital communication although I never thought to introduce the concept to baking. This recipe is definitely a labour of love since the dough does need to be proved twice as it is enriched with oil and sugar. Nevertheless, they definitely serve as a creative outlet and the end result makes them worth the extra effort.
- 3/4 cup (175 ml) lukewarm unsweetened plant milk
- 2 1/4 tsp (1 standard packet, 7 grams) active dried yeast
- 1/2 cup neutral cooking oil, such as canola
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) organic cane sugar
- 2 3/4 – 3 cups (400-450 gm) all purpose flour
- Edible black paint, to decorate
For the matcha dough:
- 1 tbsp matcha powder + 1-1/2 tbsp milk
For the chocolate dough:
- 1 tsp cacao powder + 1 tbsp milk
- Add the lukewarm plant milk, yeast, oil, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Whisk until well mixed.
- Slowly add in flour until a dough forms. Once the dough has come together, knead the dough with a stand mixed for 5-6 minutes or knead by hand on a well-floured surface for 8-10 minutes, until uniform and elastic.
- Remove a quarter of the dough and set aside. The large piece will be your matcha dough. Flatten the dough piece slightly and add the matcha and milk mixture. Knead until uniform, adding more flour as needed. Lightly spray a large bowl with oil, form the dough into a ball, and add to the bowl. Cover plastic wrap or a clean dish towel and let rise in a warm place for 1,5-2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size. The dough is done when you can push a finger into the dough and the dough does not spring back.
- To make the chocolate dough, flatten the dough pieces and add the cocoa powder and milk mixture. Knead until uniform, adding more flour as needed. Lightly spray a medium-sized bowl with oil, form the dough into a ball, and add to the bowl. Cover and let rise 1,5-2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size. The dough is done when you can push a finger into the dough and the dough does not spring back.
- When the matcha dough is ready, roll it into a log and cut into 10 even pieces. Shape each piece to the shape of an avocado and make an indent where the seed will be. Place on a baking tray covered with baking paper and cover with a plastic wrap or a clean dish towel.
- When the chocolate dough is ready, roll it into small golf-balls and place in the middle of the avocado buns where the indent is.
- Place the buns on a baking tray covered with baking paper and cover with a plastic wrap or a clean dish towel. Let rise for 30 minutes to 1 hours, until light and puffy.
- Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Bake the buns for 8-14 minutes, until lightly browned. Cool completely.
- Decorate buns with edible paint. Best kept in an airtight container and enjoyed within a day.
With my photography and writing, I often have a vision of what I am trying to achieve although the execution does not always pan out. This can be frustrating but that is where I sometimes need to be flexible. For these buns, I had wanted to create a mixture of Emoji expressions but, in the end, I found that the basic smiley face worked the best and was the most appealing.
It is interesting what a difference a smile makes and it is so true that like attracts like and a smile begets a smile. I could not help but smile the whole time I was taking the photographs looking at this basket of little faces smiling back at me.
Which Emoji-bun will you pick today?