A Bear Called Paddington

A Bear Called Paddington

Our “Reading and Refreshments” choice for October is Michael Bond’s A Bear Called Paddington. It is the first volume of a long series of amusing tales that Bond wrote about this unpredictable bear and the Brown family that adopts him after his emigration from “Darkest Peru” to Great Britain. Paddington’s adventures provoke laughter from all ages, making them ideal for reading with the family. And the stories are particularly well suited for reading out loud if you have a limited amount of time, as each chapter consists of one short “episode.” These are equally enjoyable read singly or all together, and range from a day at the seaside to a night at the theatre—Paddington keeps things lively no matter where he goes.

     “I’m sure you must have had lots of wonderful adventures.”

     “I have,” said Paddington earnestly. “Lots. Things are always happening to me. I’m that sort of bear.”

                                                                                                – A Bear Called Paddington

 And, of course, it is only fitting that you should pass around a plate of buns—just like Paddington and Mr. Gruber do for their “elevenses”—while reading about his adventures. So Alexandra has developed a special bun recipe (see below) that also incorporates Paddington’s favorite food: marmalade.

     “Every morning?” The bear looked as if it could hardly believe its ears. “I only had it on special occasions at home. Marmalade’s very expensive in Darkest Peru.”

     “Then you shall have it every morning starting tomorrow,” continued Mrs. Brown. “And honey on Sunday.”

– A Bear Called Paddington

 These buns were adapted from the Chelsea bun, a popular London treat. A tender, cinnamony dough is coiled around a filling of marmalade, currants, butter, and sugar, and then the baked buns are glazed with honey as a finishing touch once they come out of the oven. They are deliciously sweet and sticky. But hopefully we can stay neater eating them than Paddington would.

     “I’m glad I emigrated,” said Paddington, as he reached out a paw and pulled the plate nearer. “Do you think anyone would mind if I stood on the table to eat?”

     Before Mr. Brown could answer he had climbed up and placed his right paw firmly on the bun. It was a very large bun, the biggest and stickiest Mr. Brown had been able to find, and in a matter of moments most of the inside found its way on to Paddington’s whiskers. People started to nudge each other and began staring in their direction. Mr. Brown wished he had chosen a plain, ordinary bun, but he wasn’t very experienced in the way of bears. He stirred his tea and looked out of the window, pretending he had tea with a bear on Paddington station every day of his life.”

A Bear Called Paddington

 After the reading and buns, some conjuring tricks would round the entertainment off suitably, provided you read the instructions more thoroughly than Paddington does!

     Paddington looked rather worried. Having turned over the page he’d just read the ominous words, ‘It is necessary to have a second watch for this trick.’ Gingerly, he lifted up a corner of the handkerchief. Several cogs and some pieces of glass rolled across the table. Mr. Curry let out a roar of wrath.

     “I think I forgot to say Abracadabra,” faltered Paddington.

–  A Bear Called Paddington

Or you could always stick to a nice quiet game of rummy, if magic tricks aren’t in your line.

     “How about that card trick you were telling me about, Mr. Brown?” asked Mr. Gruber. “The one where you tear up a card and make it come out of someone’s ear.”

     “Yes, that sounds a nice quiet one,” said Mrs. Brown. “Let’s see that.”

     “You wouldn’t like to see another disappearing trick?” asked Paddington, hopefully.

     “Quite sure, dear,” said Mrs. Brown.

– A Bear Called Paddington

And remember, if you decide to hold your own “Reading and Refreshments,” please let us hear about it! Tell us how your family enjoyed the book and whether or not you made the treat to go with it. If you can, send us a photograph as well. You can contact us at thesiblingwritery@hotmail.com.

The next installment of “Reading and Refreshments” will be coming out in November.

Paddington Buns

Paddington Buns

Ingredients:
For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small dice
½ cup whole milk, heated to lukewarm
1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
1 tablespoon golden syrup*
 For the filling:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup brown sugar
⅓ cup orange marmalade
½ cup dried currants
 To glaze:
3 tablespoons honey
* This British sweetener is usually sold under the brand name Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and can be found in either the baking or syrup sections of grocery stores. If you can’t find it, just use an equal measure of granulated sugar.

Technique:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles moist sand.
  2. Mix the yeast into the warmed milk, and let stand for a few minutes until small bubbles rise to the surface.
  3. Add the yeast-milk mixture and the golden syrup to the bowl, and stir to form a stiff dough.
  4. Knead the dough in the bowl for a few minutes until it is smooth. Cover and set aside to rise until almost doubled, about 3 hours.
  5. Butter a baking sheet.
  6. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead it briefly. Roll out into an 8” x 12” rectangle.
  7. Brush the melted butter over the dough and sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar.
  8. Use a small offset spatula to spread the marmalade over the sugar, and then strew the currants uniformly across the rectangle of dough.
  9. Starting at one of the long sides, roll up the dough to form a tight log. Pinch the seam to seal.
  10. Trim off the ends of the log. Using a sharp serrated knife with a gentle sawing motion, cut the log into ¾-inch-thick rounds.
  11. Lay the slices on the buttered baking sheet, spacing 1 ½ inches apart.
  12. Cover and let rise again for an hour.
  13. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  14. Bake the buns until the tops are golden, 16 to 18 minutes.
  15. Remove pan from the oven. Microwave the 3 tablespoons of honey for 30 seconds or so, until it is very thin and loose.
  16. Brush the hot honey over the warm buns with a pastry brush. Remove buns to a wire rack.
  17. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Yield: 1 dozen buns

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