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I wrote this blog post originally at 3am one morning, sitting in the glow of my fairy lights and bedside lamp, and nursing an Earl grey tea. I had arrived back in London only a few days earlier, after being in Australia for three weeks and was still fighting jet-lag. Not only were my sleep patterns overturned, but I also came back to a forecast of rain, rain, and more rain. The mornings were dark and the weather was cold and grey for the most part. It was quite a change from the scorching temperatures we experienced in Australia and I’m pretty sure that I’m now suffering from SAD due to a lack of sunlight.

Instead of wallowing in post-holiday blues, I decided to think about what made British winters great. The cosy pubs, the roast dinners, the evenings by a wood fire toasting marshmallows. Or perhaps even the mornings waking up and sliding your slippers and dressing gown on, before sitting down with the Sunday papers and diving into dippy eggs and soldiers / French toast / blueberry pancakes / a fresh batch of cinnamon buns.

There’s something comforting about indulging in a long weekend breakfast with no agenda: nowhere to rush off to, no need to head out in the rain, no plans to meet anyone. Popping a batch of freshly-prepared cinnamon buns into the oven whilst you wait for the cafetière to brew, or the kettle to sing is surely one of life’s little pleasures. And on a cold winter’s morning, it kinda feels like a hug right? I’m pretty convinced that if anyone is ever having a bad day, cinnamon buns or braided cardamom buns will inevitably brighten it up for them and hopefully make them smile.

Now I know that some of you wanted a recipe for cinnamon buns without icing, but these were just too good not to share. I miss living with my parents purely for waking early and baking up goods to serve for breakfast to my whole family. When you live in a small flatshare, there are only so many bellies to fill. I could probably fit A LOT of cinnamon buns in mine if I tried, but not all of them. So instead, invite your friends over and ‘hug’ them with these. Make them feel warm and gooey inside, and smile.

Cinnamon Buns

Makes 16-18 buns

For the dough
300ml lukewarm whole milk
25g caster sugar
1.5tsp dried active yeast
400g strong white bread flour
100g spelt flour
1tsp salt
85g unsalted butter, cubed

For the filling
80g unsalted butter
80g soft dark brown sugar
1.5tsp ground cinnamon
1 large egg, beaten

For the glaze
50g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
125g cream cheese, such as Philadelphia

  1. In a jug, mix together the lukewarm milk, caster sugar and yeast. Stir well then set aside until it becomes frothy. This should take about 20mins.
  2. In a large bowl, sift the flours and salt. Add the cubed butter and rub it into the dry ingredients with your fingertips, until it forms a crumb-like consistency. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in the milky/yeast mixture. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, bring the mixture together to form a dough. 
  3. Once the dough is coming together, I like to use a handheld whisk with dough hooks attached to knead well until its soft and smooth. Place the dough back into a large, lightly floured bowl. Cover with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for approximately 40mins or until double in size. 
  4. Once risen, knock the dough back by punching the air out of it and folding the edges in on itself repeatedly. Knead again with your dough hooks and then roll out to a rough rectangle about 1.5cm thick.
  5. Gently spread the soft butter evenly over the dough. Mix the dark brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle evenly over the dough. Roll the dough up lengthways like a Swiss roll. Using a sharp knife, cut the roll into 16-18 slices. N.B. I like to slice the very ends of where the filling is sparse and discard these, but you can put them in if you don’t want to get rid of them.
  6. Line a tin with baking parchment and very gently, flattest side down, arrange them snugly in the tin. You might need more than one tin to fit them all in. Wrap the tin with cling film and leave to rise again for 20mins. 
  7. Preheat the oven to 180C and make the glaze. Put the butter in a bowl and gradually beat in the icing sugar until there are no lumps of butter using an electric whisk. Add a little cream cheese to loosen the mixture and beat until smooth. Then add the rest and turn the speed to high until it is light and fluffy. 
  8. Brush the tops of the risen dough buns with the beaten egg and then bake for 10-15mins. Sometimes mine need longer (up to 20-25mins) – bake until golden brown depending on your oven. Allow to cool slightly before spreading the tops with the cream cheese glaze. Let it melt and the serve warm with a hot cafetière of coffee.
February 17, 2020

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