Sweet Sweet Cinnamon Buns

Bread has always fascinated me.

I have been fascinated from afar though. It has always seemed like such a laborious activity. All that kneading and all. We never had a bread maker at home (probably a good thing) and so I was never able to at least cheat the first few phases of the process.

Yeast. Its a crazy little thing. This organism, dormant, is activated by the warmth and sugar you give it and then it goes on to expand your dough. Then to thank the yeast for all the hard work it has done, we kill it at 220 degrees in our ovens.

Anyway, I have always wanted to make cinnamon scrolls. They smell so good and with icing drizzled on top they are to die for! I got inspired by this post here. They looked amazing.

I chose not to use the recipe on that post. I didn't have enough oil. I found one on Annabel Langbein's website that looked just as tasty.

The only problem was when I was going to make these buns. I had exams and I was living in the library which I am pretty sure doesn't have an oven.

My last exam was yesterday. So as a treat to all those poor souls still stuck in the central library I made these buns with plenty of love and nurture and brought them around for morning tea time. The smell of hot buns wafted through the library air. I got a few curious looks as I walked past carrying my large baking tray. I probably made as many enemies as I made friends. But unfortunately I could only brighten the days of 20 souls with my 20 buns.

I recommend starting this the night before if you want to make them for morning tea. My yeast was coming to the end of its most active period so not only did I give it a bit of extra time to rise in our toasty warm hot water cupboard but I put a bit more yeast than the 3 teaspoons Annabel told me to. Just to make sure they rose.

If you have a bread maker, just prepare the dough in the bread maker using these ingredients just as you usually would but take it out once the dough has risen and then roll them out.

Lets make some magic shall we?

Sweet Sweet Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from Annabel Langbein's recipe
Makes 20 (generous buns)

For the dough:
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
125g butter, melted but not hot
6 cups high grade flour (you need to use high grade as it has a better gluten content which is essential for the structure of the dough)
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
50g butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

For the glaze:
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons sugar

In a small saucepan, warm the milk until tepid, ie only just warm to the touch. Take it off the heat and whisk in the sugar to dissolve. Sprinkle in the yeast and whisk that in too. Leave the yeast to activate for ten minutes or so. Leave it somewhere warm to help the process. You don't want to heat the milk too much or else you will kill the yeast. Remember they are living organisms, how would you like it if someone boiled you in a saucepan of milk? Then whisk in the room temperature melted butter.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre. Once the yeast has fully activated (it smells wonderfully yeasty, slightly alcoholic and it has gone foamy) pour the milk and butter mixture into the well. Using a wooden spoon (or whatever) stir the dough until it is a roughly mixed sticky blob.

Take all your rings and bangles off! haha unless you want to get bits of dough stuck in them. Or worse, the bacteria from underneath the rings in your dough! Gross!

Sprinkle the bench with a bit of flour and tip the dough onto the bench. Start kneading the dough. This will help the mixing of ingredients. The theory behind the kneading is that you help to work and develop the protein, gluten, in the flour. This helps the dough become more elastic and stretchy. This allows for the dough to form pockets of carbon dioxide (produced by the yeast) and stay that way until the dough is baked. The more you knead the more light and fluffy the final product will be. If you cant be bothered, find a nice boy to do it for you. Convince them that it is a good forearm work out (which it is!). If you don't know how to knead probably the easiest way is to either ask your mum or to just youtube it. You want to knead for around ten minutes, or until the dough is nice and soft and elastic (Annabel describes it as silky, which I think is perfect!). When you press your finger gently into the dough you want the indentation to stay there. That means it is kneaded enough.

Lightly grease a large bowl (not a cake tin like I did!) and place your dough inside. Leave your dough to rise in a nice warm place. The hot water cupboard works well so does making a nice warm hot water bath in the kitchen sink (just be sure that no one turns the tap on with your dough underneath). As I was a little uncertain about the integrity of my yeast, I left mine in the hot water cupboard overnight to rise. If your yeast is nice and fresh, try leaving it for just an hour, that should do the trick.

Once your dough has risen, knock it around a bit (remove some of the big air pockets). On a lightly floured bench, roll the dough out into a rectangle around 30x60cm in size.

Spread the softened butter for the filling all over the dough rectangle. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon.

Next, tightly pinch one of the longer edges of the rectangle and start to tightly roll the dough until you have one long sausage. With a sharp, non serrated knife, slice the sausage into 3cm thick slices. Arrange the slices in a baking tray or large cake (lined with baking paper) with 1-2 cm spacing between each one. You may need another tray (I used my brownie tin and my large cake tin). Leave the scrolls somewhere warm to rise again. I left them for an hour but you will probably only need 20 minutes if you have super active yeast. While they are rising, preheat the oven to 220 degrees.

Before being left to rise again

After the second round of rising!

Once the scrolls have risen, pop them in the oven for 15 minutes. While they bake, make up the glaze by placing the water and sugar in a saucepan and boiling until a thick syrup forms. This takes around 5 minutes.

When the buns come out of the oven, brush them with plenty of glaze straight away.

I drizzled some very thin white vanilla buttercream icing over mine once they had cooled down. Icing them is a good idea if you are planning on serving them later in the day when they have cooled. If you ice them when they are too warm the icing melts and makes a mess.

Flip these were so good. Unfortunately they disappeared too quickly for me to take photos of them (plus awkward food photography is frowned upon in the library).

If you are too impatient to wait for them to cool, devour them straight away! You house will be filled by now with the sweet aroma of sweet baked bread. It is heavenly.

The holidays are coming up, if you have the time I highly recommend you give these a go. They will most certainly make you friends and amaze your family.

I got a wee bit nostalgic (the worlds worst emotion) after delivering these for my time here at Otago. I am here next year for my fourth year but quite a few of my friends are moving on, graduating, doing placements in other cities. It kind of feels like the beginning of the end. Soon we will be grown up and expected to know everything. To be honest I have no idea what I am doing and I am lucky that everything so far has sort of fallen into place.

So to all of you leaving dear Dunedin this year, I will miss you. I will miss you a lot. Good luck!

Sophie x