Well hello there, it’s been a little while hasn’t it. Nearly a year, in fact. A lot has happened in that time. I guess the headlines are that I’ve moved to Brighton, been made redundant and very happily gotten engaged. That’s a lot to take in really. Sometimes life just gets in the way of stuff like this. I have been baking though and late autumn and Christmas is the perfect time to get back blogging about it. I thought I’d kick things off with some cardamom knots I made the other week. They’re absolutely perfect for this cold weather, going great with a hot coffee or mug of tea.
The awkward bit with these buns is the knot itself. As you’ll be able to see from my own knots, it doesn’t always go to plan. The bonus is, that as long as you ball them up pretty well it still looks good, but I’ll run you through the process for knotting them below:
Cut each strip down the centre – making sure it’s still attached at the top.
Pull the two halves away from each other and twist each one away from the centre a couple of times
Tie this into a knot
Tuck the ends underneath
Got that? It’s easier than it sounds, but you will make mistakes. Just don’t beat yourself up about it when you do – cos they’ll still look and taste great.
500gStrong white bread flourplus extra for dusting
225gGolden caster sugar
7gSachet fast action dried yeast
Vegetable or sunflower oilfor greasing
Open 10 cardamom pods, crushing the insides with a pestle and mortar and add to a saucepan.
Add the milk plus 50g of the butter (leaving the rest of the butter at room temperature until required).
Gently warm the milk, stirring so it doesn’t catch, until it’s steaming but not boiling. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until lukewarm, making sure the butter has melted into the mixture.
Put the flour, 75g of the sugar, the yeast, cinnamon and 1/2 tsp salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of a freestanding mixer and mix until combined.
Pour the cooled milk mixture through a sieve into the flour mixture, this will remove the cardamom.
Using a dough hook or wooden spoon mix to form a soft dough, then turn out onto a very lightly floured surface.
Knead for 10 minutes until it’s smooth and stretchy. You could do this using the dough hook for 5-7 minutes, but I always find I get better results if I do it by hand.
Clean out and lightly oil the mixing bowl, transfer the smooth ball of dough into it and cover with a tea towel before leaving to rise for 2 hours, or until doubled in size (you could leave it in the fridge overnight if you wanted).
Crush the remaining cardamom seeds with the mortar and pestle and combine them with the remaining 150g of sugar.
Mix the remaining room temperature butter with all but 2tbsp of the cardamom sugar.
Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper in preparation for the buns.
Punch the dough down to knock out the air and turn out onto a flat surface.
Roll out into a rectangle of 35x45cm with one of the longer edges facing you.
Cover the whole thing with the cardamom butter, spreading it as evenly as possible, right up to the edges.
Fold the top third down to the middle and the bottom third up over that, so you have one long piece with 3 equal layers of dough.
Cut in to 12 equal strips (about 3.5cm wide).
Making sure you leave it attached at the top, cut each strip down the centre so it has two tentacles.
Now for the tricky bit. Follow the instructions above, but in summary: Twist each strip away from the centre two or three times, then tie the dough in a knot and tuck the ends underneath the bun.
Place each finished knot onto the prepared trays when you’re done.
Lightly oil some clingfilm and cover the trays, leaving them to prove for another 30 minutes to an hour, until they’ve doubled in size again.
Preheat your oven to 190°C (170°C fan assisted).
Remove the clingfilm, brush each bun with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the peal sugar.
Place in the middle of your preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. You may want to swap the trays around half way through. They should come out golden brown.
Once they are out and cooling, tip the remaining cardamom sugar into a saucepan with 50ml of water and bring to the boil.
Remove from the heat to cool and brush over the buns 2-3 times while they are cooling.
Leave the buns 20 minutes to soak up the sugar syrup and serve warm. They’ll keep a couple of days in a sealed container.
What’s the best way to kick off Christmas morning? It definitely involves a brew, maybe a stocking and probably some form of bucks fizz. But if you want to kick it up a notch, why not serve up cinnamon buns for breakfast? Maple cranberry cinnamon buns sprinkled with chopped pistachios and drizzled with an orange glaze are the perfect way to make Christmas morning even more indulgent, especially as most of the hard work can be done the day before, so they’re ready to just stick in the oven first thing.
This is a combination of a couple of my older recipes, it takes the maple cranberries from my Christmas pancake recipe, and the overnight cinnamon buns I made last year, then it adds an orange wash, pistachios and a glaze. The cinnamon buns are delightfully light, especially when they’re fresh, perfect to pull apart. Arranged like a Christmas tree they’re also very visually impressive, ready for hungry and excited people to devour first thing in the morning.
Do you have any Christmas morning traditions?
Maple Cranberry Cinnamon Buns
Soft cinnamon buns filled with maple cranberries, drizzled with orange glaze and dusted with pistachios.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle the yeast into the flour. Leave for a few minutes then whisk in 65g of the flour and 2tbsp sugar until combined. Cover with cling film and leave to rise at room temperature for 35-40minutes so it puffs up.
Whisk in the remaining sugar, egg, melted butter and salt.
Using a dough hook attachment, set to low and add in 320g of flour, 60g at a time, making sure the flour has incorporated well after each addition. Add flour a tablespoon at a time after this until the dough is no longer sticking to a fingertip. Set to knead for 10 minutes. It should be coming away from the sides of the bowl at the end.
Cover and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours (1 hour in an oven set to 35°C), until it’s doubled in size.
In a small saucepan heat the water with the cranberries for a few minutes until the water starts cooking off. Add the maple and cinnamon and cook over a low heat until it starts turning syrupy.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out the dough into a 17″x10″ rectangle. Spread the softened butter over the top.
Whisk together the cinnamon and sugar, sprinkle the buttered dough generously all over. You’ll use all of it. Then, sprinkle over the prepared cranberries as evenly as you can.
Roll tightly, away from you along one of the long edges, to make a long a log.
Pinch the very ends together slightly, then cut them off to neaten. Divide into 12 even cinnamon rolls.
Place them cut side down in a prepared tin, spacing evenly to allow some space to rise, or else in a 2, 4, 3, 2, 1 formation to form a Christmas tree.
Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 7 hours. Overnight is preferable.
Remove from the fridge an hour before you want to cook them so they can return to room temperature. They’ll be puffy.
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C(160°C fan assisted).
Remove the cling film, transfer to the center of the pre-heated oven and bake for 22-24 minutes, until the tops have gone golden.
While they are baking, combine the caster sugar in a small pan with the water and orange zest, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. Heat until it just starts to boil.
As soon as you’ve removed the cinnamon buns from the oven, brush them generously with the sugar syrup.
Leave to cool for a few more minutes before sprinkling with the pistachios.
Whisk the orange juice with the icing sugar until you’ve got a thick icing that should dribble off the whisk when lifted. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe over the buns in whatever pattern you desire.
I’m here with my second post in a week, and I feel like I’m ready to get back into a proper groove. After only baking a couple of times in January, in the last week alone I’ve baked 3-4 times. So lets get straight back into it. This week I’ve finally made something that’s been on my list for ages; crumpets. I got the poaching rings several months ago and just didn’t get round to it. I love crumpets though, I love the way you can coat them with huge amounts of butter and it both soaks into the holes and pools on the top. The way it dribbles down your arm while you’re eating it. I love covering them with marmite, for a strong tang, or some sweet jam or marmalade. Read more
As I already alluded to, I changed jobs recently. In my old job we had a meeting on every Monday morning to talk about the week ahead. Over the two or so years at that job, my colleagues at Talented Talkers badgered me constantly to bring in some cinnamon rolls. My main excuse for not doing it is that cinnamon buns are much, much, better fresh and on the day they are made. I’ve done cinnamon rolls overnight plenty of times, but doing it in the week was something I haven’t done. However, with it being my last week, and the last time I’d be in that early Monday meeting, I wanted to bring in a treat for the team. This meant that after sticking the dough in the fridge the night before, I was actually up super early on that last Monday (about 5.30) to take the dough out of the fridge to allow it to return to room temperature before I stuck it in the oven. Read more
I had another of those plan-less summer Saturdays that I mentioned in my last post, and guess what, it rained again. That meant I was back to baking. I’ve had a craving lately for scones, and after we’d made spelt dosa with curried paneer for breakfast, I had a whole load of spelt flour leftover. I’ve not used spelt flour with scones before, but after a little searching I found a few recipes which looked pretty great. One of them was full of honey and oats, which I’ve bookmarked for later. However what I really wanted was something filled with cheese, so here’s a recipe for cheese spelt scones.Read more