When our darling Glamah of Coco Cooks Tweeted today is Sweden's National Cinnamon Bun Day, I grabbed hold of this opportunity to coax my latent (and totally fictitious) inner Swede out and celebrate with the rest of my bun-baking brethren and my sweet-toothed sistren.
No...I didn't start playing dollies with a root veggie...nor am I part vegetable (regardless of the quality of my writing some days).
It's been a while since I've had a cinnamon bun. Why? I must admit I've gone off them. Wherever I go, coffee shops and cinnamon bun emporiums try to convince me that insipdily sugary, tar-sticky, bready turbans mortared with icing so thick, one could restore parts of Hadrian's Wall with them.
Don't get me wrong, the first time I had one of those mall kiosk cinnamon buns, I was quite enamoured. Time passed and doughnut and coffee shops, grocery stores and cafeteria versions popped up and morphed what was a happy little swirly pastry into a Frankensteinesque Type-Two Diabetes inducing meal of a snack just put a bitter taste into my mouth.
Swirls of golden dough, filled with cinnamonny-sugar and dried fruit or nuts, glazed with a brushing of butter-dampened sugar. That's the kind of cinnamon bun I prefer.
What better to celebrate Sweden's foodie feast day than to remind myself of the buns I'd happily come home to?
I've written about cinnamon buns before, but I thought a new version was called for. This one's a little more straightforward, but easily adaptable --change the almonds to the fruit or nut (or combination) of your choice. Glaze the top with any flavour or any toffee or icing.
I must admit I wasn't fully paying attention to the buns as I cut them. Sometimes counting to 12 is beyond me. Sometimes 14 is easier than 12. I quite like the effect, away from the ordered three by four order these things usually demand. Instead there's an organic movement borne of living yeast pushing the dough to fill every possible nook of the pan. Some big. Some small. Deeper golden flecked with spots of bright slivers My tray of buns is, hence, oddly reminiscent of van Gogh's Starry Night.
It's a good version, with a slighty marzipan-ish flavour, adapted from Anita Stewart's The Flavours of Canada. Absolutely easy, yet takes much of an afternoon to make--most of that time taken up with proofing. A trifle, really, given you are returned with a house filled with bready and cinnamony scents.
Almond Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from Mrs. Peterson's Cinnamon Sticky Buns from The Flavours of Canada by Anita Stewart
To bloom the yeast:
2 Tbsp hand-hot water
1/2 tsp sugar
1 dspn active dry yeast
For the dough
2 eggs, well beaten
110g butter, melted
pinch of salt
150ml hand-hot milk
420g ap flour
canola oil (or other flavourless oil)
For the filling
75g brown sugar
1dspn butter, melted
100g flaked almonds
For the glaze
2 Tbsp butter, melted
3 heaping Tbsp icing sugar
splash almond extract
2-3 Tbsp milk or cream
Bloom the yeast for 10 minutes or until a healthy, frothy head develops.
Whisk together the sugar, melted butter, salt and milk; add the eggs and bloomed yeast. Mix well. Add the flour, in thirds, beating well and scraping down the bowl between additions.
When all the flour is incorporated, lightly dust your counter with bench flour and knead for about 5-10 minutes or until the dough is elastic and as soft as a baby's bottom. Place in an oil-slathered bowl, cover and let double in size in a warm, draft-free place...about 90 minutes.
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together.
Line a 23cmx35cm (9"x14") lasagna pan with parchment paper. Butter the parchment.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for about five minutes and let rest. Give it the two-finger poke test*. When it passes, roll the dough into a 20cmx35cm (8"x14") rectangle.
Brush the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle with spiced sugar and strew with almonds.
Roll up the sheet, so you have a fat, 35cm log. Cut into 12 pieces and place roughly 2.5 cm (1") apart in the prepared pan. Cover lightly and return to the warm, draft-free place until doubled in size...about one hour.
Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
Bake for about 15 minutes or until the buns are golden.
Brush the tops with melted butter, while the buns are still hot.
When the buns have cooled a little, but still warm, mix the melted butter, icing sugar and almond extract together. Add a little cream to thin it out. Drizzle over the warm buns.
* Two finger poke test: Poke the dough with your index and middle fingers to a first-knuckle depth. If the dents fill in, let the dough rest a little longer and try again. If the dents keep, you're good to go.
I'm a quill for hire!