Up to 3 days before you want to bake,
mix the caster sugar, yeast, 400g of the
flour and 1 tsp salt in a big bowl. Whisk
together the milk, melted butter and
egg, then tip into the dry ingredients and
mix with a wooden spoon. Cover with
buttered cling film and put in the fridge
at least overnight or for up to 3 days.
When you’re ready to make the buns,
put the dates in a bowl and pour over
just enough boiling water to cover. Leave
to soak for 15-20 mins. Drain, pat dry,
stone and chop.
Mix the remaining flour into the dough.
Use your hands to bring the dough
together, then tip out onto a lightly
floured surface and lightly knead. Roll
out with a little more flour to a large
rectangle, about 50 x 30cm, with one of
the short sides facing you. Spread over
three-quarters of the soft butter, then
sprinkle over three-quarters of the brown
sugar. Fold the bottom third of the dough
up and over the middle third, then the
top third down over the other two.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
Rotate the dough 90 degrees, or a
quarter turn one way. Roll out again to
a similar-sized rectangle as before, this
time with one of the long edges facing
you. Spread over all but 1 heaped tsp of
the remaining butter, scatter over the
remaining brown sugar, and sprinkle over
the dates. Roll up tightly like a Swiss roll
from one of the long edges. Trim the ends
a tiny bit, and slice into 12 roughly even
portions. Lightly butter the holes of a
muffin tin with the reserved butter, then
push a roll, cut-side up, into each hole.
Bake for 50 mins until golden and risen.
Remove from the tin while warm, so they
don’t stick. Dust tops with icing sugar, if
you like, or serve sticky-bottom up.