Why cinnamon buns are all weather classics
Come rain or shine, there’s nothing like a freshly baked cinnamon bun to bookend the day
How did you celebrate the arrival of spring? Did you get dressed in lightweight, white clothes, go to an outdoor party where everyone was throwing coloured powder and tucking into the “interesting” lassi and brownies? Did you return home pleasantly “relaxed” and spend the next week trying to get the purple pigment out of your hair?
This is how I celebrated the first day of spring, or, as it is known in these parts, #snowmageddon. I put on every warm layer of clothing I possess, ate a huge bowl of porridge, then trudged through Arctic snow to get to work, only to find no one else there, so I trudged back home. On the way, I met a woman skiing down the middle of an eerily quiet street to visit her mother in
Now if you actually live in Siberia, from where the blizzards, winds and snow blow in and where normal life is perfectly possible at minus 40 degrees Celsius, you might be tempted to tell us Scots to get a grip. After just a few hours of snow and temperatures just below zero, all our public transport was cancelled, thousands of schools closed and we were being told that under no circumstances should we leave the house. On the second day, the army was drafted in to get health service staff in to work. There was a feverish mix of alarm and excitement, a rush of childlike delight in the simple pleasures of snow, worry for the hundreds of drivers stranded in their cars for up to 20 hours in highland snowdrifts, and the many (far too many) people who are still sleeping rough on our streets.
Amidst all the heartening (I urge you to check out the clip of a family of deer walking through the Perthshire town of Dunkeld) and heart-rending stories, there was a recurring theme of the worst of weather bringing out the best of humanity. Even social media was full of human kindness: people braving the elements to bring food to others; doctors walking miles to work; and soup, gallons and gallons of soup. Bowls of soupy comfort were offered and accepted all over the country, in church halls, cafés, from neighbour to neighbour. It was even dangled in pots from a bridge to stranded motorists.
As a consequence of the havoc wreaked by “the beast from the east”, I was stuck indoors for several days. So, of course, I did lots of baking—I had time for sourdough bread, experimental gluten-free cakes. The most enjoyable things I made, though, were these lovely cinnamon buns which made me feel like I was holed up in a Scandinavian log cabin.
I also made lots of soup, but if you’re enjoying an Indian spring, that probably doesn’t have much appeal. The buns, though, are divine whatever the weather.
For the dough
1 1/2 tsp cardamom powder, freshly ground
425g plain white flour
7g fast action yeast
1/2 tsp salt
60g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
For the filling
75g butter, softened
50g demerara sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
For the glaze
1 small egg, beaten
Demerara sugar (or sugar pearls)
Heat the milk, cardamom until almost boiling. Then add the butter, take off the heat and let the butter melt. Let the milk-butter mixture cool enough to put a finger in (if it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast). Put the dry ingredients—flour, yeast, salt and sugar—in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the beaten egg and milk-butter mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon, then turn out on to a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 5 minutes or until the dough is soft and stretchy and place in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes until double in size.
To make the filling, mix together the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Grease a round cake tin about 23cm wide. Once the dough has risen (during #snowmageddon, it took a bit longer as the kitchen was pretty cold), roll it out into a rectangle about 35x25cm. Spread the cinnamon butter evenly over the surface of the dough, then, starting at one of the long edges, roll up tightly like a Swiss roll. With a very sharp knife, cut the roll into seven pieces—make one a little smaller than the rest. Put the smaller piece in the middle of the greased tin and arrange the rest of the pieces around it. Cover and leave to double in size again. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. When risen, brush the tops of the buns with the egg and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake the buns for 20-30 minutes or until a deep golden brown. Eat warm. The buns will keep for a day or two and can be reheated.
The Way We Eat Now is a column on new ways of cooking seasonal fruits, vegetables and grains.
The writer tweets at @eatanddust