Or not for brunch. I'm not sure brunch was the actual purpose of these - but there are no rules on what constitutes brunch food, right?
I guess that's the beauty of brunch. You can eat just about anything, because it's definitely not breakfast, and it's technically half lunch and we all know you can eat all the treats post-lunch time.
By the way, I think it's totally fine to eat cake or ice cream or chocolate for breakfast. But some people seem to frown upon this,and such foods never seem to make it onto breakfast menus... (if medicine fails me, I'll be opening up a café with a breakfast menu filled with cakes. I had the idea first - no stealing it now!)
I actually made these delicious buns on Saturday evening - staying in and baking is apparently the new going out. They took a good four hours, but the result is well worth the time and effort.
They're sweet and sticky and nutty and just glorious. I always forget how good cinnamon is as a flavour. I don't think I got quite enough rise in the pastry, so they could have been a little lighter - but dowsed in cinnamon caramel and topped with walnuts, it really didn't matter a bit.
I took the recipe from The Great British Bake Off's Big Book of Baking and for the first time in ages, didn't make a single adaptation to the recipe. It also wasn't too difficult - there are a few things I'd do better next time I made them, but for a first attempt at buns they turned out pretty good.
To make 12 buns:
For the dough
450g strong white bread flour
7g fast action dried yeast (1 sachet)
7g sea salt, crushed
1 medium egg at room temp
2tbsp set honey
250ml lukewarm milk
For the filling and topping
240g set honey
140g unsalted butter, softened
1tbsp ground cinnamon
140g light brown muscovado sugar
50ml single cream
100g walnut pieces
1 roasting tin or baking tin about 22x30x5cm (I used a roasting tin)
1. Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large mixing bowl (don't put salt directly on top of the yeast) and mix together.
2. Mix the egg with the honey and 225ml of milk until thoroughly combined. (Use a warm spoon to help spoon out the honey). Make a well in the flour and pour into this. Mix everything together by hand. You should form a soft dough that is not sticky and comes away cleanly from the bowl. Add more milk if it is too dry.
3. Lightly dust a surface with flour, then turn out the dough. Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and stretchy.
4. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise and double in size for about an hour and a half at room temperature.
5. Knock back the dough to deflate it, then tip out onto a lightly floured worktop. Press or roll into an even rectangle about 25x30cm. Cover lightly with a piece of clingfilm and leave to rest while you make the filling.
6. Put honey, butter, cinnamon and sugar into a mixing bowl. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth and fluffy. Stir in a little cream to form a 'sloppy' consistency.
7. Uncover the dough and spread about 1/3 of the filling over it, covering the entire sheet of dough. Sprinkle half the walnuts over the top, then roll the dough. To do this, start on one long side and roll away from you, tightly, making sure not to squeeze out the filling. Pinch the seam to keep it closed, then slice into 12 even discs.
8. Grease the roasting/ baking tin, then pour in the remaining cinnamon filling and spread evenly across the bottom. Place the rolls cut side up into the tin (so the spirals are showing) and just light touching. Put the tin inside a large plastic bag (I actually used a bin bag and it worked fine) and secure the ends. Leave to rise for about 45 minutes. Before this time is up, heat the oven to 180°c (or about 160°c fan).
9. Remove the tin from the bag and put in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden and the filling is bubbling. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.
10. Take a large baking sheet (or heatproof chopping board/ similar) and put on top of the buns. Carefully turn the tin over in a single motion so that the buns fall out of the tin and onto your baking sheet/ board. Pour any remaining caramel from the tin over the tops of the buns. Scatter the leftover walnuts over them, leave to cool (or don't - but be careful!) and enjoy.
(Recipe from Big Book of Baking by Linda Collister)
They were wonderful straight from the oven, still warm and with the caramel bubbling slightly.
But they were also wonderful the next day, enjoyed on a bright Sunday morning, alongside poached eggs on toast, a glass of juice and served with sweet, juicy strawberries (and an episode of Suits). A casual brunch at home is a great way to start the day, especially now I'm able to enjoy my weekends without having to revise.
I've marked out a few recipes for Danish pastries for future brunches... something I've not eaten since discovering in the second term of first year that our halls served a Sunday brunch that almost no one was ever awake for!