Monday, 14 October 2013

Cinnamon Buns

I love cinnamon. I put it in biscuits, banana bread, porridge and, less conventionally, chillis and tagines. But one of the best places you can find cinnamon is at the heart of a tightly coiled, buttery bun. A bun packed with sultanas and with the soft torn sides that come from baking a batch that expand and stick together.

 Wipe that dribble off your chin, it's baking time.

This recipe is a bit of a mish-mash. I based it on Paul Hollywood's Chelsea bun recipe from my GBBO book, but used bits of this recipe too.

One of the great things about bread and buns is that because a whole lot of the process happens before it goes anywhere near the oven, you can often freeze it and then just leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes or so before baking - voila, fresh buns in half an hour. I've got a batch of 8 in my freezer right now. I'm going to get them out the freezer Thursday and bake them fresh for Friday.

I used a cinnamon stick this time because Sainsbury's was inexplicably out of ground cinnamon. It worked really well, but I found I had to use 4 tsp to make the filling taste of cinnamon. So maybe you should add the cinnamon to taste.

You will need:

For the dough:
500g strong white bread flour
50g light brown soft sugar
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g packet of fast action yeast
300ml milk
40g softened butter
1 egg
vegetable oil

For the filling:
75g butter
75g soft brown sugar (I used light this time, but I think another time I'd use dark)
4tsp freshly ground cinnamon stick or 2 tsp ground cinnamon
200g sultanas 
zest of 1 orange

To finish:
juice of 1 orange
50g caster sugar
a little runny water icing (2 tsp water to 5 tsp icing sugar) to drizzle across the buns - this is optional

1. Soak the sultanas for the filling in the orange juice for the finishing glaze. Mix the flour, salt and sugar for the dough in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast.
 2. Put the milk and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter melts. Add to the dry ingredients with the egg and stir until it comes together as a soft, sticky dough.
3. Tip the mixture out onto a well floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes until elastic and no longer sticky. Wash the mixing bowl and brush with the vegetable oil. Put the dough in and turn it over a few times to make sure it is well-oiled. Cover tightly with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for an hour and a half to rise.
6. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down to its original size and knead it a little (gently!) to squeeze some of the air bubbles out.
7. Roll out the dough to a rectangle about 40cm long and half a cm thick. Take the sultanas out of the orange juice and set both aside. Beat together all the other ingredients for the filling and spread evenly across the dough. Sprinkle the sultanas across the dough and press down into the dough.
8. Stick one of the long sides of the dough to the work surface by pressing it down hard with your thumb. Take the other half and pull it towards you, then roll it up, pulling a little each time to ensure a tight roll. Once the dough is all rolled up, cut across into about 10 pieces each 4cm wide. Place cut side down on a buttered baking tray, spaced evenly apart and cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.

9. While the buns are proving, preheat the oven to 190C/gas 5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
10. Heat the orange juice and caster sugar in a pan until sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Glaze the buns with the orange syrup and then drizzle with the water icing.

I want to tell you to eat these warm, but if you burn your tongue and sue me, I will be sad. But just look at them, so soft, so cinnamony, so fruity, so sweet. You know you want to...

Ta-ta bakelings,


Thursday, 10 October 2013

Canadian Maple Syrup and Pecan Cookies

I know, I know, it's been far too long. I'M SORRY. But I've been really busy, with my new (ish) full time job as a financial journalist. I cannot apologise enough, so I will just bombard you with pictures of cake:

Quite impressive, if I may say so myself. And I may, and I do. But I'm afraid I'm not going to give you the recipe for this, mainly because someone's already done it:

Mine is slightly different in that I made chocolate chip sponge and used a white chocolate and rice crispy mixture to made the head and neck of the dragon and I understand that rice crispy treats include marshmallow (I've never made them). Also my dragon doesn't breathe fire, because:

Instead, I'm going to give you the recipe for my very tasty Canadian inspired maple syrup and pecan cookies.

So, I went on a business trip to Canada. And in my goody bag, courtesy of the government of Ontario, I found a bottle of maple syrup:

So I decided to put it to good use and make cookies for the office (they did send me to Canada, after all).

And the results were very good.

You will need:
225g butter
220g soft brown sugar
an egg
100ml maple syrup
2 tsp baking soda
350g flour
50g roughly chopped pecans
a little granulated sugar to sprinkle

1. Beat together the brown sugar and butter to a light fluffy consistency

2. Beat in the egg and maple syrup.
3. Sift in the flour, baking soda and mix in the nuts.
4. Roll into golf-ball sized balls (use an ice-cream scoop if you have one) and put on a baking tray. Flatten with a spatula and bake for 10-15 minutes at 175 degrees C/gas 4.
5. Cool on a wire rack and eat while good and squidgy. Mmmmm.