Christmas Buns

I adore making cinnamon buns. Not just because the smell of freshly baked cinnamon buns is quite possibly the BEST smell in the WHOLE WORLD but because the little swirls seem to me to completely encompass the spirit of Christmas. Butter-laden, overstuffed and gassy orbs left to bloat in a small space. Once they’re tucked-up in their cake in, they even LOOK like distant relatives sat, elbow-to-elbow, around a tiny dinner table.

I love how the process seems to happily mould itself into a lazy Sunday routine. The enriched dough needs roughly an hour for its first rise, so what better time to write your Christmas cards? The second rise takes a similar amount of time, providing you with the perfect window to take a stroll around the neighbourhood and post the cards to your neighbours. Time it right (around 4.30pm) and you may be able to have a nose at all of your neighbours Christmas trees through the windows.

Is it just me who enjoys this Christmas tradition? I love an unsolicited tree inspection. The perfect opportunity to shake your head and tut and the annual onslaught of terrible tinsel.

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Recipe

Ingredients

For the dough
  • 175 ml whole milk
  • 35 g sugar
  • 7 g fast-action yeast (1 sachet)
  • 350 g strong white bread flour (extra for dusting)
  • 1 large egg (beaten)
  • 50 g butter (softened)
  • 1 tbsp almond extract
  • zest of 2 x oranges
For the cinnamon butter
  • 75 g butter (softened)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

For the festive magic

  • approx 200g mincemeat (I added an extra slosh of whiskey to mine)
  • 2 handfuls of dried fruit (I used dried cherries, but raisins, currants, mixed fruits or chopped dried apricots would be lovely)
For the icing (optional)
  • freshly squeezed juice of half an orange
  • sifted icing sugar (approx 150g-200g)

Method

  1. Sieve the flour into a big mixing bowl and add the sugar and orange zest. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in the milk, almond extract and the beaten egg.
  2. Stir until it forms a craggy dough and then slowly add the softened butter, a teaspoon at a time until it’s all combined.
  3. Knead the dough in a mixer or lightly floured surface for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Form into a ball and place in a clean bowl. Cover with a tea towel or clingfilm and leave until doubled in size. This can be anything between 45mins – 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Grease and line your tin. I used a small cake tin and a small loaf tin and made 12 buns overall. (But you could use a larger round tin and make between 8-10 larger buns.)
  6. To make the cinnamon butter, simply beat together all the ingredients until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
  7. Once your dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knock it back. Roll out into a rectangle around 30 x 50 cm with the longest side nearest to you.
  8. Spread the cinnamon butter across the dough. I find it easier to drop little dollops of the butter all across the dough before spreading. This prevents the dough from tearing. Leave a 1cm border around the edge. Then add dollops of mincemeat and repeat the process. This bit won’t look pretty… but the end result will be delicious!
  9. Carefully roll the dough as tightly as you can, using the longest edge that’s nearest to you. Try not to squeeze out the filling as you roll. 
  10. Cut into your desired amount of slices. Place cut-side-up in your tin and cover loosely with clingfilm or a tea towel. Preheat your oven to 180c / 160c Fan / Gas 4. Leave to rise for 30-45 mins or until all the buns look plump and puffy and are snuggly tucked up against one another.
  11. Brush the top of the buns with beaten egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake on the middle shelf for 35 mins or until golden brown. Leave to cool in the tin. Dust with some additional cinnamon if you wish.
  12. To make the icing, sieve your icing sugar into a bowl and add a small amount of orange juice. Add a very small amount of juice at a time. The desired icing consistency will reluctantly move around the bowl when you rotate it!
  13. Drizzle the icing and devour!

 

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