Another baking group challenge today, and these are definitely one of my favourite things that I’ve ever baked! The theme this month was ‘Inspired by Your First Initial’, mine is ‘C’. For me, the aim of this bake was to do my best at recreating the delicious cinnamon buns at Gail’s Artisan Bakery, a London bakery chain of which I’m lucky enough to have a branch within walking distance of where I live. They make these beautiful, huge cinnamon buns which are baked in muffin trays, so the top spills over. These are also made with a pastry rather than a bready dough, which makes them that bit more light and luxurious. My plan was for this to tick two boxes for my baking challenge – ‘C’ for cinnamon and a swirl that looked a bit like the letter ‘C’ as well.
Now it turns out that at Gail’s, they use a croissant dough to get that lovely, light and layered texture. Apparently, this is the way they make them in San Francisco. When I read somewhere that this took 2 days to make, I decided to look into alternatives. After a lot of research, I ended up using a Danish pastry and a mish mash of the recipes from here and here. The ‘Top with Cinnamon’ blog is incidentally definitely worth checking out for further recipes, especially if you’re a big cinnamon fan like me. I’m really happy with how they turned out!
Something you need to know before you launch in and buy everything is that this is an overnight recipe. I was quite daunted by the idea of making Danish pastry for the first time, the technique and something that needed to be left overnight. Actually, it was surprisingly simple when it came down to it, as long as you keep to the instructions! Although it’s of upmost importance to keep the pastry cold while you’re rolling it out, the trick is just to pop it back in the freezer for 10mins if it gets a bit sticky. Another good little gamble which paid off was to grease the 12-cup muffin tray with cinnamon butter, which gave it a gorgeous, slightly caramelised finish. Because most of the baking is done the night before, these are great to whip out and pop in the oven to have friends over for brunch the next day. To quote my friend Fran, I’m of a generation who ‘buy brunch, not homes’ so let’s make the best of a bad situation!
- 350g strong white bread flour
- 1 sachet (7g) easy-blend dried yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 25g caster sugar
- 250g unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2cm slices
- 60ml warm water
- 125ml milk
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 100g sugar, plus a little extra to roll your rolls in when the buns have cooked
- 80g butter, melted
- 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
How to make it…
The night before
- Place the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in a food processor (or a mixing bowl and using an electric whisk), and pulse briefly to mix it up. Then add the butter chunks and briefly pulse again. You should still see buttery chunks all over the place.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the water, milk and eggs together. Then add these to the food processor as well and pulse briefly. Again, the dough should look very messy and the chunks of butter should be visible (as shown). Put the dough in the freezer for 30 minutes.
- Roll out the cold dough to a 50cm square. Then think of the dough as being made up for 3 parts that you fold in on itself, in the same way that you would fold a letter to fit into a business envelope (Nigella Lawson takes credit for this brilliant comparison). First, take the right hand edge and fold it inwards, followed by the left hand edge. This should leave you with a rectangle which has 3 layers, is 50cm long but is now only a third of it’s original width. Then, roll this out to make another 50cm square.
- Fold, roll and repeat another four times (to give you five rolls in total). If the dough gets sticky while you’re doing this, pop it back in the freezer for 10 minutes or so and then continue. Finally, take your 50cm square, wrap it in clingfilm and put it back in the freezer for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make your cinnamon butter by creaming the butter, sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl. Then use some of the cinnamon butter to line your 12-cup muffin tray.
- Take your chilled square of pastry and spread the cinnamon butter evenly over it’s surface. Then gently roll it up, and cut it into 12 roughly equal pieces. Place each piece cut side down in the muffin tray. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight.
- Take the muffin tray out of the fridge, uncover and leave at room temperature for 45 minutes. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
- Bake the buns for 17-20 minutes, or until they are well risen and have turned a golden colour. Use a knife to loosen each bun from the tray. Finally, roll the warm buns in a plate of sugar to coat them.