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I always find myself wanting to bake something impressive at Christmas, something festive and that really captures the flavours. Fill your home with the most Christmassy scent with Vanessa’s Christmas cinnamon buns.

Nothing that I have baked has ever been devoured with such gusto. One of my most popular requests for advice comes when a recipe hasn’t performed as expected. Often this happens when the baker has taken some shortcuts and not followed the techniques described, but commonly, the wrong flour has been used. Every flour is different; the results are therefore different, so if you want to turn out the same recipe then the same ingredients need to be used. This happens more often than not because different flours absorb differing amounts of water than others and if you change the flour then it changes the dynamics of the bake. The time it takes in the oven, for instance, changes if the flour has absorbed more liquid than say one that has not. It is the same for the yeast. This recipe uses Osmotolerant yeast, which is specifically used for enriched doughs, as ordinary yeast can find it challenging to cope with the extra sugar and butter.

Festive Cinammon Buns

Method

Whisk the yeast and buttermilk, together in a large bowl. Add the egg and malt and whisk again. Then add the butter, flour, sugar, cardamom and salt then mix into a rough dough. Leave for 10 minutes.

Knead for 2-3 minutes on a dusted work surface until smooth. Cover and leave to prove for 30 minutes or until risen by two thirds, this will take about 45 minutes in a moderately warm kitchen, but will vary depending on time of year and temperature of your home.

While the dough is proving, make the filling; cream the butter, sugar and spices together in a medium-sized bowl. Butter and flour the round cake tin.

Once the dough has proved, gently remove it from the bowl and on a work surface which is lightly dusted with icing sugar, gently ease and stretch the dough until it forms a rectangle of about 30cm x 20cm. Spread the filling evenly over the dough then roll it into a cylinder away from you.

Use a sharp knife, and cut into 7 slices, with one slice slightly smaller than the rest. Place the smallest slice in the middle of the cake tin and then evenly space the remaining six around the middle one. Lightly brush the buns with the beaten egg and sprinkle the pearl sugar evenly over the buns.

Cover the buns and leave to rise again in a warm place for 20-30 minutes until they have doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6, place the cloche in the oven to heat.

Once the buns have risen, remove the cloche from the preheated oven and place the tin with the buns in the cloche, cover, place in the oven, reduce the heat to 160C and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the lid from the cloche and return and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the buns are golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Makes 7 buns

Ingredients: For the dough

10g osmotolerant yeast 225g buttermilk at room temperature 1 egg, beaten 1 tablespoon malt extract 75g butter, very soft 395g Mulino Marino 00 Soffiata flour, plus extra for dusting 25g rye flour 75g soft brown sugar 1 tsp ground cardamom 6g sea salt Icing sugar, to dust

For the filling 75g butter, softened 50g soft brown sugar 1 tsp cinnamon 1 tsp nutmeg 1/2 tsp Ndali vanilla powder

To finish Egg, beaten 40g pearl sugar

Equipment 8" Springform sponge tin Large mixing bowl

Stocking Fillers Under £10

New! Boulange Lame/Grignette £6.76

The Boulange by Mure and Peyrot. Ergonomically designed for both left-handed and right-handed bakers.

Ideal Bread Bag £4.99

Stop your bread getting sweaty by keeping it in our attractive and washable bag rather than in a plastic one. High-grade natural cotton bag 40x50cm, made for us with a draw-cord perfect for keeping your artisan bake fresh.

Chunky Bread Board, £9.84

Square Butcher's Block

Vintage Flour Shaker, £7.56

Lovely and practical vintage style flour shaker to add to your baking essentials.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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