Category Archives: Sweet Buns

52 Weeks of Sourdough: Week 4

Sourdough babka! My goodness team. Who knew you could make something this delicious with sourdough? Okay, obviously you all knew. But I was ignorant. Totally unaware. Now I am converted. This might be dangerous.

Cross section sourdough babka

This weekend I decided to venture into the world of ‘other’ sourdough baking. Not because I feel I have mastered the sourdough loaf you understand, no no no. That is most definitely a work in progress. No, it was a desire to make a baked good. A sweet baked good. And what a bonus that you can make sweet baked goods with sourdough!

As it turns out, making sourdough babka, much like making sourdough bread, is a slow affair. Sloooowwwww. This is not something you can make in a few hours, when the craving hits. This takes time. Days, as it happens. There is a lot of down time while you wait for things to happen. You can go out and do things without risk of over-proofing, it takes that long.

I mixed the starter for the babka late on Saturday morning, at the same time as I was feeding my bread starter for the second time. The bread starter was then ready in 4 hours but the babka starter took a while longer. A long while longer. We went out, visited Small Food Bakery, bought wool at Knit Nottingham, made the bread dough and got to the bulk proofing stage before the babka starter was ready for use. But it did have fantastic webby bubbly goodness going on, so I forgave it…

Babka starter

I found the recipe on a blog online but it seemed very similar to that from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem, apart from the sourdough beginnings. Anyway, mixing the dough and letting that rise happened around many episodes of Season One of Doctor Foster. Have you watched that? My god. So traumatic. So good. So unable-to-stop-watching!

As per the instructions, and guidelines for babka everywhere, the dough went into the fridge overnight to make it work-able in the morning. (I do wonder how anyone figured all this technique out, don’t you? The dough is impossible at room temperature but quite fine once cold. Who first discovered this magic?)

On Sunday, we went to yin yoga. This was my first yoga class since knee surgery. There is nothing quite like a yoga class on a weekend day to make you feel virtuous (and therefore entirely deserving of babka). Once back home, I rolled out the cold dough, smeared it with the chocolate filling (and some milk chocolate chips for good measure), braided it, and left it for another slow rise. I put all my yeasty-baked goods to rise in the boiler cupboard where it is warm and cosy.

Sunday afternoon featured more Doctor Foster, some Bordertown, and (to make us feel like the world wasn’t ending/wasn’t an entirely terrible place) some Green Wing. We slow roasted a pork shoulder and made all the trimmings. Only once we were sitting down to eat, approximately 6 hours later, was the babka ready for the oven. From start to finish, this came close to an 18 hour affair.

But it was worth the wait. Once out of the oven, I soaked the babkas in a sugar syrup and left them covered to cool overnight. Breakfast this morning? Slices of babka with coffee. An excellent start to the week I’d say.

Sourdough babka

It is sourdough September chaps! So get on with all your sourdough baking now.

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning at Small Food Bakery (Part II)

Whilst Part I discusses all the loaves we made, and the dinner we ate on my Saturday Night, Sunday Morning baking course at Small Food Bakery, I found that I wanted to also write about making croissants and danish pastries and the last post was getting quite full. So here is the other half of the two-part series on my baking experience at Small Food Bakery.

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In between all the bread making, we also made an enriched laminated dough from which we generated croissants and pastries. We ate some of these for breakfast at the bakery on Sunday and the rest are currently in my freezer, waiting to be eaten at the weekend!

Unlike the sourdough and rye dough mixtures, which we made up ourselves, the croissant dough had been made up earlier by the team at Small Food because it needs to rest a significant time (at least 2 hours, preferably 4) in the fridge before being used. The dough was thus already super cold before we started to work with it. Kim taught us ‘single fold’ lamination.

Single fold lamination is achieved by rolling the dough out into a rectangle, and placing the butter in the centre. You then fold the pastry around the butter so it is entirely encased. It is then a case of rolling another rectangle and folding the dough up in thirds – so the bottom third up into the centre and then the top third over the bottom third so that you have a parcel of sorts. You then give this a quarter turn and perform the process again, rolling and folding the dough. If the dough becomes ‘tense’ you can place it in the fridge before rolling it out and folding it for a third and final time. This creates 27 laminated layers and results in a flaky, beautiful, buttery croissant. (This is the same technique for making puff pastry but that you roll and fold six times, resulting in the thousands of layers.) Once you have performed your three turns, rest the dough in the fridge to give it a chance to relax (and to make your life easier when you come to shape the pastries).

When you are ready to roll it out, remove the dough from the fridge and roll it into a square. We then divided the dough into four rectangles that would make shapes for four croissants and 5 pastries – cutting two rectangles into triangles, one rectangle in half and one rectangle into thirds. The triangles we rolled up into croissants (they look like little Eiffel towers before you roll them), whilst the halves became pain au chocolats and the thirds became danishes of various kinds. These were then egg-washed and placed in a clingfilmed tray to proof overnight. Kim told us that for pastries, the temperature and atmosphere are hugely important because they are so delicate. This is one of the reasons they are so difficult to recreate at home.

In the morning, our pastries had transformed themselves into poofy puffy clouds of light fluffiness. We egg-washed them again before decorating with fruits, seeds and chocolate.

These formed part of our breakfast on Sunday morning. One of the other participants (Adee) had brought some raw heather honey from his bees (I have the rest of the jar in my pantry now – Adee said he doesn’t sell the heather honey so this is a total treasure) and I took some of this years marmalade to share. I also brought my latest granola which I’ve been making with heather honey (recipe coming soon) and which I wanted to share with everyone. We thus ate a breakfast of kings with butter, honey, marmalade and croissants (is there a childhood story here about this breakfast? There might be I think.) There was also sourdough slices and these rather magical buns:

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These buns are made from stuffing the croissant dough into a muffin tray. They are made from the half rectangle shape that makes a pain au chocolat but we filled them with date syrup (and I put some chocolate slices in mine) and then placed them in the muffin trays to proof. In the morning Kim baked them off (they don’t need egg washing or anything) and then as soon as they came out of the oven tipped them out (because the syrup causes the buns to stick to the tray as they cool) and covered them in cardamom sugar whilst still hot. The result is a fragrant sticky flaky bun that is the stuff of dreams.

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Kim dousing the buns in cardamom sugar

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Some filled with raisins, others plain, one with chocolate

I intend to make more of the magical buns this coming weekend, which is a bank holiday weekend and for which all I have planned is writing, writing and more writing so these will see me through I think.

This was a truly wonderful birthday present. And I heartily recommend the course for anyone even remotely thinking about making bread with sourdough…

Small Food Bakery

Primary, 33 Seely Road Nottingham

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning workshop costs £190. Places are available for July and September workshops. 

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning at Small Food Bakery (Part I)

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For my birthday this year I requested a cooking class. When my family asked what they should purchase, this was the best thing I could think of for a gift – a chance to do something fun and learn some new skills. I had a look around (online) at the very many different options available, but in the end chose the Saturday Night, Sunday Morning class at my local bakery – Small Food. The class lasts over 2 days. You spend Saturday afternoon and evening in the bakery and then return on Sunday morning. During this time, you learn loads about sourdough, fermentation, lamination, flour, yeast and sourdough starters. It was a fantastic way to spend (most of) a weekend. Because we learnt so much (and I took so many photos, most of which I want to share), I’ve written two different posts: this one is all about making bread and Part II is all about laminated dough (croissants and pastries).

Saturday afternoon began with the participants (six of us) sitting down with Kim (the owner) over coffee to talk about the plan for the weekend, and sourdough starters – the starting point for any sourdough baking. Kim had sent instructions for preparing a starter and everyone had a version of one with them. My starter actually comes from Small Food, as I had no luck trying to start my own last year and I have been caring for it for a number of months. As such, the flavour and smell is very developed – it smells very fruity, mostly of apples and has a wonderful cider-y (ferment-y), apple-y taste. Did you know you can taste your starter? I had no idea until this weekend when we shared our starters around the table, tasting and comparing them. Some were young, creamy and yoghurty; others, like mine, were more sour, with fruit notes. There is no ‘right’ taste to a starter, it all depends on the flours you’ve used, the water and the yeasts in the local air.

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Ovens to covet at Small Food Bakery

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Then it was straight into work! We began by making a large sourdough mixture, enough to generate four different loaves (for taking home) and two small(ish) pizza bases that we were to eat on Saturday evening. One of the reasons I love making sourdough is getting my hands into the dough, incorporating the flour, water and starter, squidging the mixture between my fingers, feeling and hearing the dough change shape, watching as it absorbs the water and changes into something malleable and usable.

Once we had our bulk dough made – you basically work the mixture until it forms a shaggy dough and has absorbed all the water – we put them into clear tubs and placed them in a proofer (of sorts) to relax. This is called the autolyse stage and allows the dough to absorb water and also lets the gluten relax. Then we mixed up a 100% rye dough from which we made rye loaves and crisp breads. The rye loaf doesn’t require any kneading. You just mix the dough and scoop it into the tin (scooping being the operative word here as the dough is very wet). Then you proof it very slowly at room temperature before retarding the rise in the fridge overnight.

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All this physical work was broken by much coffee and cake. Sarah is the cake queen at the bakery and she had whipped up banana and macadamia loaf cake with cream cheese icing, orange and poppyseed cookies, and chocolate chip and lemon shortbreads. (She also screenprinted the fabulous aprons we got to use over the weekend and have now taken home.) After our tea break, it was time to prepare dinner and flavour our loaves.

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Once autolyse stage is finished, you add in more water and salt, squidging this into the dough until all the water is absorbed and you can no longer feel the salt. We then rested the dough again before starting to perform the ‘turns’ which add structure to sourdough and ensure it doesn’t just collapse and seep all over the counter when you’re trying to shape it. These turns are completed at half hour intervals, so in-between we had time to think about flavourings for our breads. We all made a Radford Wild and a beetroot sourdough. I then made an olive, chilli and seed bread, and a chocolate, fig and pistachio one. When all the doughs were flavoured and resting once more, we turned our attention to dinner.

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Bubbles forming in the sourdough

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Turning the dough on top of itself

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Flavouring the dough

Dinner was sourdough pizza. Each pizza was formed of 250g of dough weight. Nathan provided instructions on how to thin out the dough into something that resembled pizza and then we were given free range to create pizza toppings. They were all baked in the large ovens before being sliced and shared amongst all of us.

I made a potato pizza with creme fraiche and a butternut, onion, mozzarella and chilli pizza that was super thin and crispy. (Potato pizza looks beautiful once baked as the edges of the potatoes crisp up and brown, making the whole thing look a little like fish scales.) There was green salad and wine (and beer), and lots of conversation about food and drink. It was rather hard to muster the energy to stand up again to do more shaping but the loaves were in need of attention!

After dinner we focused on preparing our sourdough loaves. The flavoured doughs had been proofing whilst we ate and were ready to be turned out, bench rested and then folded to provide structure and strength in the baking process. These are then tipped into sourdough baskets (lined with cornmeal) and left overnight in the fridge.

The next morning, we returned to the bakery to bake off all the bread loaves. Kim illustrated how to score the loaf – this has to be done so the loaf can expand whilst it cooks. If you don’t score it, the loaf will simply expand where it wants. By scoring it, the baker is guiding the expansion in a particular way. Scoring a loaf takes confidence. If you are too hesitant you will damage the structure and affect the aesthetic appearance too.

Once the loaf is scored, it goes into the oven where it bakes until a dark golden brown. The bread bakes directly on the base of the oven which is stone and therefore incredibly hot.

Whilst our sourdough loaves were baking, we made stencils for our rye loaves. Stencils are a fun way to decorate loaf-style breads and everyone got to create their own ‘logo’ of sorts for their rye bread.

The last activity with the rest of the rye dough was to make crispbreads. Kim says she came up with these by accident, after over-fermenting a dough but they remind me a lot of lavash and I suspect are fantastic with hummus. The rye dough is formed into sausage-like logs, using water on your hands and on the work surface (so quite messy to recreate at home). The logs are sliced into 2cm long pieces and these are massaged out onto baking paper until incredibly thin and delicate. You can flavour them pretty much any way you see fit – salt, herbs, seeds and the like. They are baked directly onto the base of the oven until crisps – about 7 minutes.

I had an epic weekend. There is nothing I love more than spending time with other food people, talking about food, eating, making food. Superb birthday present (thanks to Mom and the Princess!)

Small Food Bakery

Primary, 33 Seely Road, Nottingham

Saturday Night, Sunday Morning workshop costs £190. There are places available on the July and September workshops. 

Saffron Earl Grey Tea Loaf

Happy Good Friday all! Andrés and I are lazing about the house today, preserving quince, roasting lamb (yes, I know this is usually saved for Sunday but today is the only day we are off together so we’re feasting early) and this morning I have been shaping and baking this loaf. In case you are all hot cross bunned out, this is equally satisfying and moreish. The texture of this loaf is akin to brioche, it is a pretty yellow colour from the saffron, and it works incredibly well as a vehicle for butter and marmalade.

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The original recipe comes from this month’s Delicious magazine. I can’t decide exactly when but at some point this last week I started dreaming about saffron and earl grey tea together in a brioche-type dough. I read loads about hot cross buns made with fruit steeped in earl grey tea and decided I could adapt a recipe to suit my needs. The tea doesn’t add flavour so much as plumps out the fruit in a rather glorious way. Take note, this is a two day affair. You proof the dough three times so it is easiest to make the dough the night before and proof it in the fridge overnight. Then you only have two proofs to do on the day you’d like to eat it. I took the dough from the fridge at 8.30am and we ate the loaf for brunch at 1pm. If you’re a dried fruit hater (I have been known to be one in the past), simply remove it. You can add in some candied peel if you like too.

Saffron Earl Grey Tea Loaf

Adapted from Delicious Magazine

For the dough:

1 tsp saffron

220ml full fat milk

zest of two clementines

500g strong white flour

1/2 tsp salt

100g golden caster sugar

8g quick yeast

1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground ginger and mixed spice

2 eggs

75g unsalted butter, soft

60g sultanas

60g currants

2 tea bags earl grey tea

Heat the saffron in a small saucepan until the colour darkens (this literally takes like 2 minutes). Remove from the heat and grind into a fine powder. (You do not want any threads of saffron in your final loaf – I did this by using my pestle to grind the saffron directly in the pan but this is mostly because the mortar part is still in South Africa.) Add the milk to the saucepan (and put the saffron back if you have ground it in another pan/in a mortar or coffee grinder) along with the zest of the clementines and heat until scalding. Leave to infuse for about an hour – the mixture should be cooler than body temperature when you use it.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, place the flour, salt, sugar, spices and yeast. Make sure the salt and sugar are kept separate from the yeast. You don’t want to kill the yeast by accident. When your milk mixture is cool, mix the dry ingredients briefly using a dough hook. Whisk the eggs into the milk mixture and add in the butter in pieces. With the dough hook on low speed, pour the milk/egg/butter mixture slowly into the dry ingredients. Mix until everything is incorporated. Once the dough has come together, increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic – approximately 8-10 minutes. Take the bowl from the standing mixer, cover with clingfilm and leave in your fridge overnight.

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Place the currants and sultanas in a bowl with the tea bags. Pour over boiling water until the currants/sultanas are covered and leave to steep overnight.

The next morning, drain the currants and sultanas and remove the tea bags. Set aside.

Take the dough from the fridge and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knock it back lightly. Take handfuls of the raisins/currants and knead them into the dough. This is a messy procedure and you won’t incorporate the currants/sultanas entirely but try. Some will escape but don’t worry too much, so long as most of them are incorporated into the dough. Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Cover with clingfilm and proof for an hour and a half in a warm spot (I always use the oven with the light switched on).

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Grease a large loaf tin and line the base with baking paper. When your dough has doubled in size, knock it back and weigh it. My dough weighed 1100g. Divide the dough into 10 equal portions and shape the portions into elongated buns. I found this easiest to do with wet hands as the dough is quite sticky. Fit these together into the loaf tin. Cover the tin with a clean shower cap or a plastic bag torn and secured with an elastic band. You do not want your loaf to rise and touch the plastic so make sure there is enough space between the top of the tin and the plastic. Proof again for approximately one hour – until the loaf is peeking up over the top of the tin.

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Preheat the oven to 180C. Make a paste with 25g flour, 1 tsp sunflower oil and 2 tbsp water. Pour this into a piping bag and pipe crosses (or any pattern of your choice) onto the tops of your buns.

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Bake for 40-45 minutes. After about half an hour, make a glaze for your loaf. You can either use apricot jam heated with a little water until smooth or you can make a glaze (as directed in Delicious) by heating 2 tbsp caster sugar and 75ml clementine juice (approximately both the clementines you zested earlier plus one more) for five minutes. When your loaf is baked through, remove it from the oven and glaze whilst it is warm. Allow it to cool before slicing.

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Maple Pecan Baked Doughnuts

These are delayed celebratory doughnuts because our community garden got funded last week! I’ve been doing a kind of internal dance ever since. We can now buy and establish a large greenhouse, get wellingtons for volunteers and buy seeds. It’s all very exciting. I get slightly giddy when I think about it. Oh! The things we will grow!

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And nothing says celebration quite like a doughnut right? Particularly one made with brown butter, maple syrup and pecans. (Yes, I realise that it actually screams autumn and it feels very much like spring is on fast-forward right now but they’re so divine that hardly matters.) I find these are best iced and eaten whilst slightly warm, preferably in a sunny spot with a good book. (I’ve just started Hollow City, the second novel in the Peculiar Children series. I love the way the text and photographs work together to create the story. I’m hoping to do something like that in my thesis. I am making small progressive steps towards the Foucault chapter. The ideas are there. It’s just taking time to make them make sense. And to know the various arguments. Slowly, slowly.)

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This recipe is adapted from a Joy the Baker one, which you can find here. I reduced the sugar content to make way for the maple syrup, used self-raising flour not plain flour and added cinnamon rather than nutmeg. I’ve discovered I’m not the biggest fan of nutmeg in doughnuts. And obviously the icing has to be cream cheese based.

Maple Pecan Baked Doughnuts
Makes 7 (awkward I know – I made 6 but it means there were no holes in the middle of the doughnuts)
1 cup self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
30g butter, unsalted
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g pecans, roughly chopped

Glaze
75g full-fat cream cheese
2/3 cup icing sugar
3 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 175C*. Lightly grease a six-hole doughnut tin.
Mix the flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and caster sugar together. Stir in the pecans.
Brown the butter. (If you haven’t done this before, melt the butter on a medium-high heat in a saucepan, and then leave it to cook until the aroma turns nutty and there are brown flecks in it. It will sputter a lot initially whilst the water separates out but then will cook quite quietly. Watch it as it burns easily and you don’t want the butter to turn black.) Cool.
Whisk the egg, buttermilk and vanilla extract. Then add in the maple syrup. Whisk in the butter.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and stir until all the flour in incorporated. Then stop. You don’t want to over mix the batter.
Spoon the mixture into a piping bag (or ziploc plastic bag) and pipe the mixture into the doughnut tin. (I find this way easier and quicker than trying to spoon it in. It’s less messy and if you use the ziploc you can chuck the bag away at the end so no cleaning up. I realise that perhaps that is not the most environmentally friendly so you can of course clean the ziploc bag and reuse it for other batters at a later stage.)

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Bake for 10 minutes, rotating after 8 if your oven is uneven (mine likes to cook the back right of everything way darker).

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Cool completely before icing.

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To make the icing, whisk the cream cheese until smooth. Add in the icing in three goes (this helps prevent lumps) and then whisk in the milk. You want a fairly liquid icing, so you can dip the doughnuts into it or spread it on with a spoon. Add more milk if you need to. (I made double the icing I suggest here. You don’t need that much. I’m going to have to swirl it into brownies or something this week.)

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*My oven seems to run at temperatures hotter than what it says. (Not exactly a surprise.) But I’ve started to bake things at 175C as a result.

Cinnamon Buns

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.

Cinnamon Buns

250ml milk
60g unsalted butter
1 cinnamon stick
1 egg
1L plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
10g instant yeast
60g caster sugar

Filling:
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.

Milk Syrup
125ml milk
65g caster sugar

Heat the milk and sugar until slightly reduced and syrupy. Brush over the buns whilst still hot.

Sticky Caramel Cinnamon Buns

I have a little obsession with cinnamon buns. I love them. A lot. They are the ultimate comfort food for when you have a carb and sugar craving. This is my choice. Always. However, a good cinnamon bun is hard to find. I want my bun to be swirled beautifully with cinnamon sugar. It should shine in the light and should be relatively sticky. There should be NO raisins and NO white icing. Those are my conditions. As a result, I make my own. I have a tried and tested recipe that I almost always use. It turns out perfect cinnamon buns every time. But today I thought I would try something a little different. Something that would elevate the cinnamon bun to a new level of decadence. A sticky caramel cinnamon bun.

Obviously the only place to go for such a ridiculously over-decadent item is Flour. I’ve waxed lyrical about Flour before. It’s a wonderful example of American baking and the recipes work. (Well, the ones I’ve tried anyway.) You make a brioche dough then roll and fill it with cinnamon sugar and pecans before proving it and baking it in caramel sauce. OMG. You could run the Comrades on this amount of sugar. Its insane. In a good way.

Caramel Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from Flour

Dough

320g cake flour
200g bread flour
150g stone ground cake flour
3 and a 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
95ml caster sugar
1 tablespoon salt
125ml cold water
5 eggs
310g unsalted butter, room temperature

Caramel
170g unsalted butter
330g light brown sugar
120g honey
80g double cream
80g water

Filling
55g light brown sugar
50g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup pecans, toasted and bashed

Firstly, make the caramel. Melt the butter then add in the sugar. Stir own to ensure it’s all mixed up then allow the sugar to dissolve. Off the heat add in the water, honey and cream. If the mixture seizes, return it to the heat and allow everything to dissolve once more. Strain into a bowl and allow to cool.

Grease a rectangular baking dish.

For the brioche, place the dry ingredients in a standing mixer bowl. With the speed on low, add the eggs and water and allow the mixer to beat until the mixture comes together. It won’t look like much yet. This takes 5 to 10 minutes.

Start adding in the butter, a large-ish cube at a time. Allow the dough to absorb the butter before adding in any more. Once all the butter is added, mix on a medium speed for 10-15 minutes until the dough is soft, silky and pliable.

 

Place the dough in the mixer bowl and cover with cling film. Allow the dough to prove for 2 hours. You can refrigerate it overnight at this point if you need too. Roll the dough into a large rectangle with the long side closest to you. Mix together the filling ingredients but only add in half a cup of the pecans. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough. Roll the dough down from the top, making sure its tightly rolled. Using a large knife, slice the dough into 12 equal pieces. Pour the caramel into the baking dish and sprinkle with the rest of the pecans. Place the buns cut side down into the caramel, allowing some space between each bun. Allow to prove for 2 hours in a warm place.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Once at temperature, bake the buns for 35-40 minutes. They will get fairly dark on top but you need a long baking time to ensure the buns cook through.

Remove from the baking tray individually and spoon extra caramel and pecans from the tray. These are not particularly beautiful specimens but that taste extraordinary. You may need to run around the block after.