Cinnamon buns for the weekend

Another absolutely terrific recipe from my editor-at-large, Emfrid... take it away you hot crazy Scandi mutha:

A warm cinnamon bun is my favourite sweet thing to eat, and it’s an EXCELLENT choice for comfort food. Trust me. They’re pretty much a staple throughout Sweden – you’ll find them in every bakery, cafĂ© and shop across the land. Subsequently there are approximately 3745 different recipe versions for these bad boys. The one I use is a bastardisation of the recipe my mum always made and my own modifications. I do use a lot of cinnamon –if you think it might be a bit too strong for you reduce the quantity. But it is MEANTto taste strongly of cinnamon is all I’m saying.

It may seem a little faffy to make these but it’s really not that hard and anyway, the end result is well worth it. I like to swing the dough together in the morning, leave it to rise for a good while and then put Goblin down for a nap, pour a glass of wine, plug the iPod in (I’d recommend the soundtrack to ‘Drive’ for this) at a tinnitus-inducing volume and proceed to knead the SHIT out of that dough. It’s therapeutic. Yes.

I prefer to use fresh yeast if possible, because that’s what my mum – and the rest of Sweden - use. You can get fresh yeast from certain supermarkets (Morrisons in Letchworth stocks it, which is the only positive thing I have to say about THAT place), health shops, or, if you’re in London, Scandi shops such as Scandi Kitchen or Totally Swedish. If there’s no fresh yeast readily available fret not – you can use dry yeast instead, added to the dry ingredients rather than the wet.

This will yield about 40-45 buns which may seem a lot, butit’s not really. They will go. Fast. I once ate 11 of these suckers in one sitting, and I DIDN’T EVEN FEEL SICK. However, if you do possess willpower they will freeze very well.

For the dough you’ll need:
50g fresh yeast (or 2 x 7g sachets dry yeast)
150g butter
500ml whole milk
1000g strong bread flour
100g caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp salt
1tsp ground cardamom – optional, but as far as I’m concerned it really makes the bun. I’ve never been able to find ready ground cardamom inthe UK, and if you can’t either it’s time to get cosy with your mortar and pestle. You’ll need the seeds from about 20 cardamom pods.

For the filling:
150-200 g softened butter, cubed (yes, this might seem likea mighty shitload, but remember it’s divided up between 40 or so buns. At least that's what I tell myself)
3-4 tbsp ground cinnamon
100g sugar - I like to use brown, but white will work just aswell.


1 egg for brushing
Pearl sugar – very optional indeed, because it’s a bitch toget hold of. If you can’t find, leave it. I often do.

1. Crumble the fresh yeast into a big bowl. Melt the butter then add the milk and warm the mixture until it is finger warm (bodytemperature - about 37c). Pour the milk and butter mixture over the yeast and stir until all the yeast dissolves.

2. Add the sugar, salt, cardamom, egg and, gradually, most of the flour (you’ll want to hold some flour back for kneading). If you use dry yeast, add it with the flour here. Work the dough together until it’s shiny and no longer sticks to the bowl. Sprinkle over a little flour, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a dry, warm place for at least 30 minutes, by which time it will have roughly doubled in size.
3. While the dough is rising mix together the softened butter, sugar and cinnamon. Cover with cling film and leave in room temperature until you need it. You want it so soft as to be spreadable, so chilling it inthe fridge might leave it too hard and cold.
4. When the dough is done rising tip it out onto a floured surface and knead, working through the rest of the flour if needed. You want it pliable and airy, not too dry.

5. Divide the dough up in four equal parts. Roll out each part into a vaguely rectangular shape (mine normally look more amoeba than rectangle, so don’t worry too much about it), approx 3-5mm thick. Using abutter knife or similar, spread on a generous amount of the filling. Roll it up lengthways, into a kinda Swiss roll looking thing. Then cut it into pieces of equal size, approx 2-3 centimetres thick.

6. Place your buns cut side up onto greased baking plates,or into big muffin forms. Leave plenty of space between your buns – they will double in size. Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise again for 30 mins.

7. While the buns are rising preheat the oven to 220C for a fan oven – adjust the temp according to what type of oven you own. I like to place my buns on the stove top so the heat helps them rise even more.

8. When doubled in size, beat up an egg and brush the bunswith the egg wash. Sprinkle over the pearl sugar if using – I tend to do halfwith the sugar, half without. Then bake in the oven for about 5-10 minutes. Do keep an eye on them – ovens, as we know, are notoriously fickle bastards. Then let cool for bit under a tea towel, before gleefully stuffing your face.

These are best eaten warm and oven fresh, but as I said, they freeze well. Just defrost them and heat through in the oven at about 150C for about five minutes. You could also nuke them in the microwave for about 30 seconds or so but they won’t be quite as nice.

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