Cinnamon buns

Notes

This makes 12-16 cinnamon buns, depending on how deep you cut each slice

Tin sizes don’t need to be exact – the buns will expand outwards and/or upwards. If using a rectangular tin, use one about 20 x 30 cm and if using a circular tin, use one about 30cm in diameter

This is a wet dough so you may want to use a stand mixer instead of your hands for the kneading stage

Preparation time – 2hr 15 (about 45 minutes of this is hands-on activity)

Cooking time – 20-25 mins

Equipment

  • a tin to place the buns in – rectangular or circular will do. See notes above
  • pastry brush
  • rolling pin
  • large bowl
  • sharp knife
  • small ceramic bowl/cup or small saucepan
  • stand mixer with dough hook (if not kneading by hand)
  • clean tea towel

Ingredients – for the enriched dough

  • 300g wholemeal bread flour
  • 150g strong white flour
  • 1 teaspoon of fast action dried yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • a pinch of fine salt
  • 120ml milk (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • 70ml tepid water
  • 1 medium egg (beaten)
  • 25 olive oil

Ingredients for the filling

  • 95g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 100g chopped gale cherries

Ingredients for the glaze/topping

  • 30ml golden syrup or maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons of marmalade (with or without peel – your choice)
  • 30g – 40g of slivered almonds

Plus

  • extra flour for dusting
  • extra olive oil for resting the dough

Method

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s both flour types, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and olive oil and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead
  3. Alternatively, use a stand mixer with a bread hook instead of hand kneading
  4. If kneading by hand, tip out onto a lightly floured surface
  5. Knead for 8 – 10 mins (or in your stand mixer). The dough will have a smooth surface when it’s ready
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with your tea towel
  7. Leave it to rise somewhere warm. This will typically take an hour and the dough will almost double in size
  8. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a lightly floured surface and start to press it down gently into a rectangle (around 65cm by 15 cm)
  9. In a small bowl, mix the ground cinnamon, vanilla seeds, caster sugar and softened butter together
  10. Spread the cinnamon butter all over the dough
  11. Scatter over the chopped glace cherries
  12. Roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge
  13. Cut the roll into 12-16 slices
  14. Place the slices end-on into your tin. If the slices have flattened as you cut them, you can reshape them by hand
  15. Space the slices around 1 cm apart
  16. Cover again and leave to rise a second time for around 30 mins
  17. Heat your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.
  18. When risen, place in the oven
  19. After 10 mins turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and bake for 10 – 15 mins more
  20. Let the buns cool in the tin for 10 minutes
  21. Melt the syrup and marmalade together with a tablespoon of water – you can do this in the microwave or in a saucepan
  22. Brush the glaze over the top of the buns while they are still in the tin and then sprinkle with the almonds
  23. Leave until fully cool

Blueberry and thyme muffins

image1(2)What is it about muffins? I can’t quite put my finger on how to describe their taste and texture, it being quite similar yet oh-still-so different from a fairy cake. The flour used, even when a high white plain, goes a nutty, wholemeal-ish taste and the density of the sponge is so different, almost wet. It’s the precise ratios of ingredients, the use of both baking powder and extra bicarbonate that make these subtle changes.

These muffins are not quite as sickly sweet as those you might pick up with your cup o’ mocha-chocka-chai-latte-grande. I’ve purposely reduced the sugar, replacing much of it with honey too, so it is a more acceptable level of sweet while still keeping enough sugar back to create the baked-on crunch topping. I’ve also introduced some thyme leaves to give the cakes a little twist and to keep their taste fresh, and these use yogurt not the usual cream, extra milk or extra butter.

Notes

These make 12 muffins, but do use a deep bun tin if you have one rather than a traditional shallow fairy cake/bun tin.

I created my own muffin cases, by cutting out 15cm X 15cm squares of baking paper. Take a glass or beaker with a bottom which fits into the base of one of the bun tins. Squash a square of baking paper into a bun tin with the glass, turn the glass and paper over and then smooth the baking paper square firmly down the sides of the glass. This will create a perfectly usable case. I’ll try to create a video of how to do this and include it here soon.

Equipment

  • Deep bun tins (this makes twelve so you need at least this amount of cavities)
  • Paper cases – either bought or create your own (see above)
  • Large bowl and smaller heatproof bowl
  • Spatula and spoon

Ingredients

  • Plain flour – 300g
  • Bicarbonate of soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Soft brown sugar – 80g (please do use soft brown or Demerara – the muffins really are very different if you use white caster or granulated)
  • Fine salt – a pinch
  • Honey – 2 tablespoons
  • Unsalted butter – 105g – this butter should be quite soft but not melted
  • Eggs, large – 2
  • Plain yogurt – 110g
  • Blueberries, fresh – 150g
  • Freshly picked thyme leaves – about 2 heaped teaspoons
  • Extra sugar (Demerara, granulated or pearl sugar) for a crust – about 2 tablespoons

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 190°C fan, 210°C conventional
  2. Prepare the bun tins by filling with the paper cases, you don’t need to grease them or use release spray
  3. Pick your fresh thyme – and strip off the leaves, discarding the stalks
  4. Put all of the dry ingredients (flour, bicarb, baking powder, sugar and salt) in the large bowl, sifting them together with your fingers or giving them a light stir
  5. Make sure your butter is really soft, but not melted
  6. Give the two eggs a light whisk in a separate bowl
  7. Mix in the butter, yogurt, honey and eggs into the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed
  8. Now gently mix in the blueberries and thyme
  9. Divide the mix equally between the 12 cases
  10. Sprinkle over the extra pearl sugar (or other sugar that you’re using)
  11. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  12. Check them after about 12 minutes and turn the trays round if they’re already getting brown on one side
  13. Leave to cool and then enjoy 🙂

 

Wholemeal maple syrup, date and pecan sticky buns

IMG_2203Can’t beat a fluffy, cinnamon-y, fruit, sugary breakfast bun. These are made with two thirds wholemeal for more of an earthy bite. I’m not sure I really believe wholemeal is truly much healthier than white bread, but it certainly feels more righteous.

Date and walnut are a traditional combination for a number of recipes (not just baking) but, although I do like this, I find pecans preferable. (Often if you can’t get hold of the freshest walnuts they can be a little acrid, where pecans do not seem to deteriorate in this way). I added a maple-syrup sauce for added sweetness, well that and it seemed to instill a sort of North American/Canadian vibe with the pecans (though what the dates are now doing there I am not sure – perhaps next time I’ll swap them from dried cranberries!).

Notes

This makes a lot of buns! About 16 in fact. They can be divided and frozen after baking – you can actually put the maple syrup sauce and the nuts on before freezing, though I would recommend adding the icing after you’ve defrosted them. (Leave overnight on a wire rack to defrost thoroughly).

Equipment
  • a tin to place the buns in. I used a 30 cm casserole dish, but any shape is just fine bowl
  • small saucepan
  • pastry brush
  • rolling pin
  • large bowl
  • sharp knife and a small spoon
  • small ceramic bowl or cup (this may be going in the microwave)
Ingredients – for the enriched dough
  • wholemeal bread flour – 300g
  • strong white flour – 150 g
  • easy-blend yeast – 15 g
  • caster sugar – 50 g
  • fine salt – a pinch
  • milk – 125 ml (doesn’t have to be warmed but it’s better if it’s not fridge-cold)
  • water – 75 ml (tepid rather than warm)
  • medium egg (beaten) – 1
  • unsalted melted butter – 25 g
Ingredients for the filling
  • butter, softened – 80 g
  • ground cinnamon – 1 teaspoon
  • Half a vanilla pod’s worth of seeds
  • caster sugar – 25g
  • chopped, stoned dates – 50g
Ingredients for the glaze/topping
  • crunched-up pecans – 35g
  • maple syrup – 30ml
  • marmalade (with or without peel – your choice) – 2 tablespoons
Icing
  • water – “enough” – by this I mean just enough to make a dropping consistency with the icing sugar – this will be around a tablespoon
  • icing sugar – about 75g
Plus
  • extra flour for dusting

Method

Preparing the dough

  1. Add all the dry ingredients into your bowl (that’s both flour types, sugar, yeast and salt) and mix them up a bit.
  2. Make a well in the middle and tip in the milk and water, beaten egg and melted butter and start to mix. This is a little wetter than bread and is messy (half the fun) so you may want to use a wooden spoon first to bring it together before you start to knead.
  3. Tip it out onto a clean surface. Try to resist adding a dusting of flour to the surface if you can (or if it’s not too ingrained a habit). Yes, some of it will stick to the surface but as you continue kneading it will lift off and combine, and then you haven’t changed the chemical constitution of the dough too much by increasing the ratio of flour. Alternatively, I expect you can use a machine with a bread hook – but this will also need 10 minutes (I always find it interesting that elbow grease and electricity have the same effect when it comes to dough).
  4. If the dough is a little hard work add a touch more milk – as mentioned, it should be just slightly wetter than bread (more like how wet a sourdough or brioche would be).
  5. The kneading will take about 8 – 10 mins depending on how vigorous you are! Just like other breads, the dough will be smooth and a bit bouncy when it’s ready. This is one of those things that you just get used to seeing after you’ve baked for a while.
  6. Clean out your original bowl and lightly grease it (or use another) and pop in the dough. I usually chuck a large linen teatowel over my rising bread, and sprinkle over a little bit of water onto the towel, but cling film will do nearly as well (this shouldn’t need dampening as it creates an airtight seal and the bread is already moist).
  7. Leave it to double in size somewhere warm but not hot – this will typically take an hour or so but it depends on the warmth. Like other sweet doughs you could make this one evening and leave in the fridge or somewhere cool to rise overnight.

Shaping, filling and rolling the buns

  1. Gently roll the dough out of the bowl on to a (lightly) floured surface and start to press it down gently (no heavy pummeling!) into a rectangle. You’re aiming for something about 65cm by 15 cm (2 foot by 10 inches in ‘old money’).
  2. Mix in the ground cinnamon, vanilla seeds and caster sugar into the softened butter
  3. Now you’re ready to add the filling ingredients. Spread the cinnamon butter all over the rectangle of dough – but leave a 1 cm gap down one long edge (this is to help the dough stick into a roulade shape later)
  4. Scatter over the chopped dates
  5. Now you need to roll up the dough like a roulade/Swiss roll, starting from the long edge which you haven’t left with a 1 cm gap. Brush a little bit of water or milk onto that edge you left so it sticks to the outside of the dough once you’ve roll it all up. It should look just like a doughy Swiss rollRolling up the dough
  6. Cut the roll into 15-16 slices
  7. Pop the slices end-on into the tin, so that you can see the Swiss roll shape and all the lovely fillings from the top. You may need to push the back into more of a round shape, as slicing them may have flattened them a little. Space the slices between 1 – 2 cm apart so that when they rise they bump into each otherSticky buns - ready to bake
  8. Cover with a that clean, damp tea towel or cling film from earlier and leave it to rise and prove a second time. You want them to puff up to about double what they were but this shouldn’t take as long as the first rise – about 30 mins.
  9. Pop on your oven to 180C fan/200C conventional.

Baking and glazing

  1. When risen, take off the covering and pop the tin in the middle of the oven and set the timer for 10 mins. After 10 mins don’t take them out – turn the oven down to 160C fan/140C conventional and cook for between 10 – 15 mins more. You want a nice golden top (not light but not too dark). You may need to turn the tin after the first 10 mins if your oven is not cooking very evenly (as you want the buns to all have the same depth of colour).
  2. Fetch the buns out when ready and leave to cool in the tin a bit.
  3. Now make the glaze by melting the maple syrup and marmalade together with a tablespoon of water until bubbling and the marmalade has melted completely into the maple syrup
  4. Add in the crunched-up pecans into the maple syrup sauce
  5. Brush (or pour) it all over the tops of the buns (while they are still in the tin), try a little to spread the pecans evenly across the buns
  6. Leave until fully cool
  7. Make the icing by mixing the icing sugar with the water until you get a smooth dropping consistency
  8. Drizzle the icing all over the buns with a small spoon and leave until the icing has solidifiedFullSizeRender

Blueberry muffins

Blueberry muffins What to do with a punnet of blueberries that otherwise might not get eaten? Make old school blueberry muffins in time for breakfast.

These are so quick to make that this morning, having been woken up early by a very loud dawn chorus (ie a loud crow sitting on the window ledge) I knocked these up in just five minutes, put them in the oven while I had a shower and got dressed, and then they were ready for breakfast. Cue two very happy teenagers – a rare thing that early in the morning.

Notes

I read somewhere, sometime ago that if you cover the muffins with a clean , damp (wet slightly then wring out) teatowel while they are cooling the tops stay soft. Unfortunately I never remembered that this morning but it clearly didn’t matter.

Makes about 10 – 12, depending on how generously you portion them out

Equipment

  • Large bowl
  • Large wooden or metal spoon
  • Fork
  • Bun tin and muffin cases

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter, softened – 110g
  • Golden caster sugar or golden granulated sugar – 130g
  • Milk – 150ml (preferably full fat)
  • Eggs, medium – 2
  • Plain flour – 300g
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Bicarbonate of soda – 1 teaspoon
  • Lemon juice – 1 teaspoon
  • Blueberries – 150g

Method

  1. Put the oven on to 160C fan / 170C conventional
  2. Prepare a bun tin with muffin cases
  3. Cream the butter and sugar
  4. Mix in all the other ingredients lightly (don’t over work the mix), except the blueberries
  5. Squash a few of the blueberries with a fork (about a third) and then fold them in toomuffinMix
  6. Spoon out the mix into each case – a large dessert spoon in each
  7. Place the whole bun tray in the oven, on the middle shelf
  8. Bake for 25 – 30 mins until they are lightly golden

muffins2