Following my realisation that Nordic Bakery‘s cinnamon buns are the Finnish variation on the spiced teatime treat (crisp on the outside; thin, dry layers of pastry; not much sugar; far too little indulgence) I decided to have a go at the soft, moist sticky ones I’d been craving. And obviously, given that indulgence was high up the list of required assets, Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’ was the book that could deliver.
This recipe makes a good two dozen of the doughy little chaps, and they’re only at their best for a day or two so either treat your colleagues or prepare to get fat, because it’s really hard to only eat one at a time. This recipe is adapted from Nigella’s, which I tried but couldn’t make work.
450g flour (plus extra on hand for if the dough’s too wet)
60g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
14g (2 sachets) easy-blend yeast
2 eggs, beaten, with about a quarter kept aside for using to glaze
100g soft butter
100g soft brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Chai syrup (ahem… or just water)
Combine the flour, caster sugar, salt and yeast. Melt the butter and let it cool a bit, then whisk into the milk and eggs. Stir the liquids into the floury mixture and mix until combined, then knead it until soft and springy. The next stage is forming a ball, so if your dough is so sticky there’s no way it could form a ball, add a bit more flour until it’s just dry enough to behave. Then form a ball and leave it to rise in an oiled bowl that’s covered with clingfilm for about half an hour.
Mix the filling ingredients together into a paste. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 50cm x 25cm big, then spread the filling evenly over the dough (the back of a metal spoon is easier than a knife, as the dough’s so soft). Roll the dough up (starting with the long side) so that you have a 50cm dough sausage. Cut that up into 2cm chunks with a sharp knife and snuggle them, swirl side up, into trays lined with greaseproof paper. Brush with the leftover egg (mixed with a bit of milk if your brush is the thirsty kind) and leave them for 15 minutes to rise a bit, preheating the oven to 230°C (a bit less for fan ovens) in the meantime.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until dark golden brown, then cool the whole batch a little on a rack. Make a loose water icing using icing sugar and a little liquid; I used chai syrup because I had some lying around and it was delicious, but I realise that having chai syrup ‘lying around’ makes me a twat. Water is fine. Drizzle the buns with the icing and let it dry for as long as you can manage before you stuff them all in your face.
Nigella’s ‘How to Be a Domestic Goddess’ is probably the cook book I love the most and if you don’t own it already, I highly recommend you find yourself a copy.