Friday, 4 October 2013

Sticky buns

Food blogger doesn't get praised too often in our family. It doesn't matter how you can clean a squid even with your eyes closed or how well versed you are in Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines - these people are hard ones to impress. "What do you mean you've never made cinnamon buns?!"

So, I suppose it was time to get out of the way, too. And there's no better day for that than today: apparently today marks the 7th annual National Cinnamon Bun Day in Finland. A bit of a national favourite, that. But in order to shakes things up just a little bit I sought inspiration form Ameeerica, where everything is bigger and sweeter and stickier and crunchier and nuttier: sticky buns it was!

The dough itself was the traditional bun dough that probably comes imprinted in every Finn's DNA. I made mine without egg, as that apparently makes the buns stay softer and chewier for longer. Traditionally a layer of butter, cinnamon and sugar would be spread to sheet of dough which is then rolled and cut to pieces, but I made a fleur de sel caramel sauce. And sprinkled a generous quantity of dry roasted pecan nuts on top. Then you roll it, cut into slices, place them cut side up into a loose bottom pie dish (leaving some space in between as they will increase in size!) , let rise covered for another 15 minutes or so, brush with beaten egg and bake. And then, once they've cooled a bit, you glaze them. And oh my goooosh, how yummy they are!

The other half of the batch I made into traditional cinnamon buns and the other one into sticky caramel and pecan-filled buns (you can go nuts with any variety you fancy though). In case you just want the supercharged American kind, double the amount of caramel and pecans given below. And my colleagues' verdict? "Best buns evah!"

The buns:

1/2 l milk
1 package (50 g ) fresh yeast
2 dl sugar
2 tl salt
1,5 tbsp ground cardamom
14-15 dl flour
200 gr butter

1 egg for brushing

Warm milk to 37°. Crumble yeast into it and mix well. Then add sugar and cardamom. Then start adding flour 1 dl at a time mixing well. After the couple of first dl of flour add salt. When the dough gets too thick to manoeuvre by machine or whisks, start doing it with your hands. Around 11th dl of flour pour in the melted and cooled butter and work thoroughly into the dough. Continue adding flour as needed until you've got yourself a smooth, soft and elastic dough. Cover well and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size. In the meanwhile make the caramel.

Salty caramel:

2 dl sugar
2 dl cream
50 gr butter
fleur de sel

Let sugar melt in a pan and then whisk in cream. Mix until smooth and the add butter. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes and let cool before stuffing the buns.

Divide the dough into 2. Roll both portions into rectangular sheets as thinly as you like (the thinner the sheets, the more stuffing the swirls hold!). Then add either

1. a little shy of 100 g butter spread onto the sheet topped with a couple of handfuls of cinnamon and sugar. I also like to add raisins (that you can plump up by soaking them in a bit of rum first) OR

2. the caramel topped with a generous sprinkling of fleur de sel and topped with 125 g pr dry roasted pecans, roughly chopped.

Roll the sheet and cut into chunks of about 5 cm thick. Place into a pie dish (loose bottom or not) and leave some space in between - the buns will expand. Cover and let rest for another 15 minutes until the oven has reached the desired temperature. Beat the egg and brush the buns with it. Bake at 200°. If you want, you could add some almond flakes or coarse sugar on top before baking. 

Baked like this the buns will take longer than individual buns - around 15-20 minutes.

Let cool and decorate with icing sugar glaze (optional but... why stop now?)

The glaze:

1 dl icing sugar
a couple f tsp cold water

Incorporate water into the icing sugar a little at a time until you have a thick, white, shiny mixture. Using either a spoon or a piping bag decorate the buns as you like. 




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