Saturday, 15 March 2008

Cinnamon Buns

My mother used to make cinnamon buns for breakfast for us when I was a child with relative frequency. She'd use tons of butter, but convince herself they were healthy because of the brown flour she used. I loved them: there isn't anything as good as sticky cinnamon buns, and I'd hack the burnt buttery sugar globs off the bottom of the pan and spread them on. The one or two left over made an excellent mid-afternoon snack, especially spread with yet more butter and accompanied by a hot mug of tea. It's only now I'm older and life is filled with the hectic everyday chores of filling in applications and paying the gas bill that I realise quite how fantastic and organised it was to have hot cinnamon rolls ready for breakfast on a regular basis. Somehow when she made then I just tripped down the stairs and into the kitchen, and was not in the least surprised to find the table laid, coffee made, orange juice poured and the sweet smell of sugar.

Though A. is a dab hand with the expresso machine in the morning, he isn't a breakfast person at all. And when he is it's protein he's after not refined carbohydrate. Few people can eat there way through a batch of cinnamon buns alone, so until now I hadn't made them. But this afternoon the wind howled, and it rained all over my washing, and somehow all this added up to a deep desire to bake something warm and sweet and satisfying. So I halved the recipe. And it turns out I can make a pretty good dent on half a batch of cinnamon buns, even when eating alone.

(this recipe will make a full batch, but you can reduce the filling by half and bake half of the dough into plain bread rolls)

For the bread:
500g white bread flour
3tbsp of yoghurt
1 egg
75ml milk
200ml water
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 tsp sugar

For the filling:
125g of butter
4tsp cinnamon
50g of muscavado brown sugar
a handful of chopped walnuts
a handful of raisins

My breadmaker came in handy here. All the bread ingrediants simply go in and get kneaded on the dough setting (1 1/2 hours). Alternatively if you're making this by hand you want to add the liquids into a well in the dry ingrediants, stir until combined, and then knead thoroughly. Then let the dough rise for 1/2 hour and when its risen knock it back.

Once the dough is out of the breadmaker, or has been knocked back, you make the filling. The measurements here are rough - mum used her eye and so do I. So feel free to up the sugar, lower the cinnamon, and generally play around. Finely chopped apple makes a great addition, or you can use dried figs instead of raisins. Mix the sugar, cinnamon and butter to a paste. Roll out the dough into a long, thin rectangle. Smear the butter mixture over and sprinkle with the fruit and nuts. Now roll the dough up like a swiss roll, so you have a long sausage filled with a pinwheel of cinnamon butter. Seal the join with a little water.

At this point you can slice off rounds to create individual buns or join the ends of the sausage together to create a ring. Either way put the dough on a baking sheet, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for half an hour in a warm place. Heat the oven to 200oc. If you've made a ring you then need to slice into the ring almost to the centre all the way around, so you have a sun shaped loaf, and leave it to rise for 15 more minutes. If you've made buns they can go straight in the oven. Depending on the oven, and the shape of your buns, these should take 25-35 minutes. Make a cup of tea or coffee while you wait. When the buns are golden brown take them out of the oven. Leave them to cool ever so slightly (hot butter and sugar burns!) and then tear into them.

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