For a good five months now, I have been wanting to make my own cinnamon buns. Muffins, cakes, cookies, sure - but cinnamon buns, now they're really something special.
I remember working in a café with an American Chef a few years ago. One day business was slow, and so he whipped up a batch of cinnamon buns. Out of the oven they came, I can still remember the smell... I was in utter rapture as we delighted in warm, fresh, fluffy buns. Chef danced around the kitchen gleefully as he enjoyed one of his home country’s signature sweets. Needless to say, they have been on my mind ever since.
Late last year, I saw a beautiful recipe for cinnamon buns on Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 Cookbooks (see recipe link here). I have been showering Heidi with quite a lot of love lately, forgive me, I can’t help myself. She’s just far too cool. Ever since I read about these cinnamon buns I have been itching to make them.
This has been a long itch, my friends. Why did I not scratch it sooner, you may ask? Surely if I was itching I would search for a remedy, i.e. make the darn buns. Well, it’s not as simple as that. You see, these buns contained an ingredient that was on my list (see this post, here, if you do not recall the list I speak of). In a nutshell, I was scared of yeast. Note that I just prefaced my confession with was. A typo, you may question? Indeed it is not, for I am no longer afraid of yeast.
Yes, yeast may be a micro-organism, but apart from that it is not scary at all. In fact it is a father glorious micro-organism... please stop calling it a micro-organism.
In all seriousness, yeast is pretty fantastic. It helps food to rise from a blob into a beautiful bun. It’s like the Fairy Godmother for baked goods. A Fairy Yeast-Mother, if you will. Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo!
Originally I had planned on making these buns at Christmas, however we ended up pushing them back to Easter. Subsequently my itch was extended for a tidy 4 months. Ouch.
Come morning on Easter Sunday, I was ready to get my hands dirty, conquer my fear and experience the wonder and magic of the Fairy Yeast-Mother. My dad very kindly guided me through the entire process. He’s kind of a bread-making champion, so I latched onto his yeast experience.
Clearly this shot was taken first thing in the morning (and clearly I am enamoured with the yeast), so please excuse my nightgown. I adore it, however Ben informs me that it makes me look like an escapee from a mental institution.
Dad was also my photographer whilst I got my hands all doughy (I love that part). Thanks for all your help, dad! You're my Fairy Yeast-Father! Sorry, that sounds terribly emasculating.
My favourite part was the kneading. What an arm workout! I’ll tell you, kneading has officially creeped into my top workout routines. Now I can say that I am not just all about cardio, I take my biceps very seriously. Plus, at the end of your hard work, you get bread or buns... or both! Is there a better workout? Surely not.
The dough was spiked with ground cardamom. Not only did this invite a beautiful, speckled appearance, but the aroma was intoxicating. Cardamom is so dreamy, it's truly one of my top spices. I’m playing favourites a lot these days, aren’t I?
One mistake I did make was to combine the cinnamon and sugar with the butter before being spread on to the dough (rather than spreading the butter first, then scattering a cinnamon/sugar mix over the top). Although I doubt this would make much of a difference (correct me if I am wrong, please). One other thing, I *cough* used olive oil spread instead of butter *cough* as we were out (gasp, I know). Don’t worry, it was still amazing.
Rolling the dough is always a fun process. We scattered a little sugar over the buns after the egg wash, but not a lot. I feared they would be too sweet otherwise, as this recipe does contain a lot of sugar.
As these buns were cooking, the sweet, cinnamon and cardamom-infused aroma filtered through the air. I could not stop inhaling. It was heavenly. I don’t need to tell you, do I, can’t you just imagine? Cinnamon buns – those two words inherently invite you to inhale and sigh in delight.
These buns were soft on the inside, very much like a brioche, yet the dough had a welcomed structure to it in the outer layers. Be careful not to overcook these buns, otherwise they will be tough and not nearly as delightful as they should be. The cardamom offered a lovely, exciting flavour to the prominent sweetness of the dough and filling - it really stole the show for me.
We ate our cinnamon buns for brunch on Easter Sunday alongside Greek yoghurt, which cut though the sweetness nicely. Berries would also have been a nice addition. Or perhaps slices of refreshing honeydew. Or even some fresh figs. Oh the possibilities….