I got to thinking the other day about loosing touch with friends. It is easy to do, so many things take priority, too busy with the children, too little time, there is always an excuse. It happens to us all, at least I hope it does and it's not just me.
I have a half-Finnish, half-German friend called Lennart.
I worked at his right elbow for about three years ... we shared chats, jokes, mid-morning coffee, recipes, bounty bars, architectural details, cigarettes and pints in the pub on a Friday. It made going into work much more bearable because he was there with a smile no matter the weather.
Then the inevitable happens ... I got married, had two children and left work, he got married and had a baby and the routine of my life just took over. Now he's gone and moved to Germany, I saw him before he left but the gap was there. I am now kicking myself that while he was happily living in Dublin, not a million miles away, I didn't make the effort to get off my ass and go visit him.
He is fairly obsessed by all things Finnish, the Moomins, Alvar Aalto and cinnamon buns. He used to go to this little cafe called Pete's Place at the end of George's Market to get his Finnish cinnamon buns, they only have them after about twelve thirty for some reason, but they were, as I remember, delicious.
And as it happens the Observer Food Monthly for March did a nice little article about a Finnish bakery in London called the Nordic Bakery and the article featured the classic cinnamon bun recipe. So I gave them a try. Lennart, these are for you. They are not perfect in looks, a few more goes and I am sure they will be, but they certainly taste like the real thing.
Thankfully I halved the recipe from the newspaper. I would be hawking the buns on the street had I made the full amount.
This recipe will make about 8 hefty cinnamon buns.
You will need:
For the dough
285ml lukewarm milk
75g caster sugar
23g fresh yeast or dried yeast (I used Doves Farm dried yeast because it's the best)
1/2 tsp crushed cardamon seeds
90g unsalted butter, melted
500g plain flour (again Doves Farm)
For the filling
50g unsalted butter, very soft at room temperature
100g soft dark brown sugar
11/2 tblsps ground cinnamon
For the glaze:
43g caster sugar
1/2 tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
You will need:
2 baking trays lined with baking parchment
- Firstly set about making the dough. Combine the milk, sugar, cardamon, melted butter and egg in a food mixer with a dough hook. Note that if you have cardamon pods, simply remove the seeds from the pod and grind them (the seeds) to a fine powder.
- With the motor running, add the flour a little at a time until it is all combined and you have a slightly sticky but springy dough.
- Place into a clean bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour until it has doubled in size (see below).
- After an hour, knock it back, punching it with your fist to release the air. Transfer it to a lightly floured surface and roll it out into a long thin strip as shown. It should be somewhere in the region of 30cm wide x 60cm long and about 7mm thick.
- Now add the filling. Smear the very soft butter over the dough. I started this with a knife but quickly gave up and used my hands. More effective although very messy.
- Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon evenly over the top.
- Gently take the long edge and roll up the pastry so that you have a long sausage.
- With a sharp knife, cut it diagonally like this into small point-less triangles.
- Place them slightly apart on the baking sheets and cover once again with a clean tea towel and leave in a draft free place for 30-60 minutes until almost double in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the buns are golden brown on top.
- Make the glaze by bringing the caster sugar, lemon and 50ml of water to the boil and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes until it thickens slightly. It will be slightly runny at the end.
- Remove and place them onto a cooling rack, brush with the glaze and allow to cool.
These are deliciously soft, not too sweet and perfect with coffee at any time of the day.