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

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

Salted blondies – with pecans and macadamias

IMG_1721I’ve given a recipe I developed a number of years ago recipe a seasonal twist. Sea salted blondies scattered with teeny crisp-shelled chocolate eggs.

Bake these at any time – not just Easter – by omitting the chocolate eggs or replacing them with Smarties.

Notes

Although we are adding sea salt to the blondies I do suggest using unsalted butter. That may seem a little pointless, but it means we can control the amount of salt used.

Using two types of sugars allows the caster to melt into the ingredients and help the baking process (as well as adding sweetness) and the demerera will keep some of its integrity, allowing for a little extra crunch.

Equipment

  • Baking tray/square cake tin 20cm x 20 cm
  • Baking parchment
  • Saucepan
  • Large bowl
  • Small bowl

Ingredients

  • Unsalted butter – 160g
  • Pecans – 60g
  • Macadamias – 60g
  • Plain flour – 225g
  • Baking powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Demerera sugar – 55g
  • Light brown or unrefined caster sugar – 170g
  • Eggs, medium – 2
  • Vanilla paste – 1 teaspoon or finely grind up a half of a vanilla pod in a pestle and mortar
  • Good quality white chocolate, chopped into large pieces – 200g (two ‘posh’ bars: I really like the Coop’s own which is a lot cheaper than the well known luxury brands but no less gorgeous)

Toppings

  • Sea salt flakes (I use salt from the Cornish Sea Salt Co) – about 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Mini crisp-shelled Easter eggs (I found these in Asda). Out of season replace these with Smarties or other similar shelled chocolate sweets – as many as you like
  • Milk chocolate chips – a large handful/as many as you like

Method

  1. Turn your oven on to 190C fan  / 2210 conventional
  2. Line the baking tray – I’ve found you don’t need to grease or flour – leave enough on two opposite sides to help you lift the blondies out later
  3. Put the butter in your saucepan over a medium heat and warm the butter through until it starts to separate and foam and then pour it into the small bowl to cool a little
  4. Pop the nuts into the saucepan (it will probably still have a little butter in it – this is good) and return to the heat and swirl them around in the residue butter for a minute to toast them a little and let them take on that caramelisation. Take off the heat and leave to one side
  5. Measure out the rest of the ingredients except the toppings and the white chocolate – that is the flour, eggs, sugars, baking powder, vanilla – into the bowl and give a quick mix to incorporate the eggs thoroughly
  6. Add in the butter and mix through
  7. Now add the chopped chocolate and the nuts and mix
  8. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin
  9. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes
  10. Remove and scatter the chocolate eggs/Smarties onto the surface, pushing them down ever so gently (you want to have most of each egg showing)
  11. Scatter over the salt flakes and the chocolate chips
  12. Return to the oven for another 10 – 15 minutes
  13. The surface of the blondie will be a nice golden brown and when you insert a cocktail stick or skewer in to the mix it should still be a little wet and clingy, though not liquid (brownies and blondies are kept gooey-er than cakes)
  14. Leave to cool in the tin, then lift out and cut into portions

Treacle and pecan tart with Linzer pastry

treaclePecanTart

I wanted to do a treacle tart, but with my usual need to fiddle about with stuff I thought I might try using a chocolate crust. After a bit more pondering, I came to the conclusion that might be just a bit too sweet and sickly, what with the amount of golden syrup involved. So, I chose a Linzer pastry – it has a touch of cocoa but the addition of cinnamon and almonds gives it a little edge. I then added pecans as they are quite a bitter nut (not that I don’t like them) to offset the sweetness a little further.

The other thing I altered (well, had no choice but to alter) was that treacle tart traditionally has double cream, and I had run out. So I used a tin of condensed milk instead. What do you know? It worked! I was exceptionally pleased with the results – this combination of flavours and ingredients makes for one very lovely treacle tart, better even than the classic original.

Equipment

  • 23-25cm tart tin, preferably with a loose base. Greased and lined with baking parchment
  • Rolling pin
  • Bowls
  • Saucepan
  • Whisk
  • Grater
  • Spatulas, spoons etc
  • Blender
  • Baking beans or dried pulses
  • Pastry brush

Ingredients – for the Linzer pastry

  • Plain flour – 250g
  • Cocoa powder – 10g
  • Caster sugar – 125g
  • Unsalted butter – 125g
  • Finely diced almonds – 60g
  • Baking powder – 1 1/2 teaspoons
  • Eggs, 2 – keep one whole and separate the other into yolk and white
  • Zest of one lemon, grated finely
  • Salt, a pinch

Ingredients – for the treacle filling

  • Golden syrup – 400 ml
  • Egg, medium  – 1
  • Condensed milk – 60ml
  • Butter, salted, slightly softened – 25g
  • Zest of two lemons
  • Breadcrumbs – about three slices of bread crumbed finely in a blender
  • Pecans, 100g
Method – pastry
  1. In a large bowl, rub the butter into the dry ingredients (ie everything except the zest and eggs)
  2. Once it is all fine crumbs and evenly distributed (ie no lumps of butter), add in the zest and one whole egg and one egg yolk (reserve one white in a separate small bowl)
  3. Beat smooth with a wooden spoon until combined fully
  4. Roll into a ball and then flatten out
  5. Cover with cling film and rest in the freezer for ten minutes or the fridge for half an hour (at least or this can be made up to a day in advance and left in the fridge, or a month if freezing)
  6. Turn the oven on to 170C fan / 180C conventional
  7. Roll out the dough to about 3mm thickness (as it contains egg it will rise somewhat, so keep it thin)
  8. Place into the prepared tart tin and trim the excess pastry off
  9. Line the pastry shell with baking parchment (a good tip is to slightly wet the parchment and scrunch it, that way it fits into corners better) and tip in your baking beans or dried pulses
  10. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes
  11. Turn the oven off
  12. Remove the baking beans/pulses and the baking parchment
  13. Whisk the separated egg white a little and brush it all over the inside of the pastry shell
  14. Return the tart tin to the oven for five minutes
  15. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin
Method – filling
  1. Put the oven on to 170C fan / 180C conventional
  2. Warm the golden syrup and butter in a saucepan over a medium heat and stir together until combined
  3. In a bowl, whisk the zest, egg and condensed milk together briefly (it won’t whisk up much)
  4. When the golden syrup and butter have melted together tip it onto the zest/condensed milk and stir until fully combined
  5. Tip in the breadcrumbs and stir
  6. Pour into the pastry shell and then place the pecans on top
  7. Place in the bottom of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes – the tart should not wobble when done
  8. Leave to cool completely or serve slightly warm.
  9. Turn out from the tart tin.
  10. It’s particularly fabulous with vanilla ice cream

Treacle, pecan and Linzer pastry tart