I have this book. It’s called the little black book of wisdom. It’s a A-Z Moleskine that is filled to the brim with recipes and is falling apart at the seems – literally. It’s my collection from when I was training and working as a chef. Some of the recipes call for scary amounts of ingredients. Some recipes can’t really be read properly anymore because they’re covered in batter stains. Some recipes I didn’t bother to write the method for (why will I ever not know this?) and now I look at the recipe and play trial and error whilst I figure out what is supposed to happen when. But it’s my little book of wisdom and I love it. The problem is, it’s currently at home, in South Africa.
This makes for awkward phone calls to my mother. She sighs deeply and says, ‘yes, where shall I look?’. I also have a weird filing system for the recipes so that pastry isn’t under P but under S for sweet or shortcrust. It takes some time but we can usually find the recipe I’m looking for. Now my problem is that I can never find where I’ve written the recipe down. Like now, I know the recipe for these cinnamon buns is somewhere in my (new) moleskine. The problem is that this moleskine also has various other notes in it – books to buy, articles to read, supervision reminders, notes on random thoughts. Finding a recipe is hard work in this thing. I should’ve remembered to pack the damn moleskine that last time I was home. Lesson learned. Recipe found. (Finally).
I made these over Easter when I was home but they’re perfect for a day like today (cold and rainy). They fill the house with sweet cinnamon and warm milk smells. You can make cinnamon buns or Easter buns or chocolate and pecan buns from this recipe. You will want to eat all of them in one sitting. I take no responsibility.
60g unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick
1L plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
10g instant yeast
60g caster sugar
50g butter, softened
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp caster sugar
Combine the milk, butter and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and heat until the butter melts. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Warning: if you add this to the mixture when it’s too hot you’ll kill the yeast!
In a standing mixer place the flour, salt, cinnamon, caster sugar and yeast. Make sure you keep the yeast separate from the salt and sugar. Once the milk mixture has cooled, remove the cinnamon stick and add to the dry ingredients followed by the egg, mixing on a low speed until incorporated. Check the dough at this stage, it should be soft and pliable. If it feels to stiff, add more water. If it’s too sloppy, add more flour. Then increase the speed and knead until a smooth dough is formed – about 5 to 10 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, place in a clean bowl and cover with clingfilm. Leave to prove for one hour, until approximately doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. You’re aiming for a rectangle shape that is about 1/2cm thick, keeping a long side closest to you on the work space. Spread the butter over the dough. Combine the cinnamon and sugar before sprinkling over the dough. With the long side closest to you, begin rolling the dough up tightly. Roll away from you until you have a log. Slice the log into individual buns and place together in a square baking tin lined with baking paper.
Preheat your oven to 180C. Egg wash the buns and allow to prove again until doubled in size. This takes about half an hour. At this stage you can refrigerate your buns but you will need to allow them time the next day to come back to room temperature and then prove – this takes about 4 hours or so.
Egg wash again before baking. Bake for 30 minutes until the buns are risen and very dark on top.
65g caster sugar
Heat the milk and sugar until slightly reduced and syrupy. Brush over the buns whilst still hot.