Cinnamon BunsPosted: September 6, 2011
There’s something so comforting about that cinnamon-sugar mix. It’s a cozy, wintry sort of combination, one that tends to evoke happy Christmasey thoughts in me even when it’s only September. (Is it any wonder that nutrient-free Cinnamon Toast Crunch was among my favourite childhood breakfast cereals?) So I suppose it makes sense then that I woke up very early this past Christmas morning to make my family some Nigella Lawson-derived cinnamon rolls (seen above). They might be what I categorize American-style cinnamon buns, all baked together so they can be pulled apart, eaten warm one at a time, with or without cream cheese frosting on top.
By contrast, the cinnamon buns I saw in Sweden were usually baked in paper cases and sprinkled with a bit of pearl sugar, making for elegant little beauties.
The cinnamon bun has more incarnations than I ever thought of, especially in the Nordic countries. Now that I’m back in London, I’m getting my fix at Nordic Bakery, one of my favourite cups of coffee in the city and purveyors of fine, mostly Finnish, baked delights. The Finnish cinnamon rolls they supply are much firmer than I was used to, with crispy, sugar-syruped, candied exteriors. Like their Swedish-style counterparts, they are individually baked, thousand-layered delights. Pulling apart each layer takes time, until you get to the last sticky morsels. I’m not entirely convinced about the cookbook recipe yet, as they were much puffier and softer than I expected, but they were still all eaten up without complaints.
Classic Cinnamon Buns (adapted from the Nordic Bakery Cookbook by Miisa Mink)
570 ml lukewarm milk
150g caster sugar
45g fresh yeast (About 15g dried yeast or a little more than two sachets)
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle (I used about ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom)
180g unsalted butter, melted
1 kg plain flour
100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (heed these directions! My butter melted a bit and things got messy)
200g dark brown soft sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
85g caster sugar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
First, the dough: Mix together the milk, sugar, yeast, cardamom, melted butter and egg together (a mixer or food processor would be very helpful here), then gradually add the flour until it is all combined.
Transfer the dough to bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for an hour or until it has doubled in size. After an hour, punch down the dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll it out until it is about 30 x 80 cm and 7 mm thick.
For the filling, spread the butter evenly over the dough and sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon all over the top. (I’d consider mixing the butter, sugar and cinnamon all together first, then spreading it over the dough.) Preheat the oven to 200° Celsius, 390° Farenheit.
Roll the dough up from a long side. Cut into roughly 6-cm rolls, cutting them at an angle, i.e. make the first cut diagonally, and then cut diagonally in the opposite direction. The cinnamon buns should look like little individual trapeziums. Transfer the buns to some parchment-covered baking trays. Cover with tea towels again and leave to prove in a warm place for 30-60 minutes, until almost doubled in size.
Bake the buns in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.
Now, the glaze: Put the sugar, lemon juice and 100ml water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until slightly thickened. The glaze will still be quite watery, but that’s fine.
Remove the buns from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and brush the glaze generously over them. Leave to cool before serving.