… I always find early November a very strange time of year. Working in the heart of London is like being both front of house and back stage at the worlds most extravagant theatrical production of Christmas… if you hang around late enough you see the set-dressers arrive with their cranes and cherry-pickers and cable spools of fairy-lights and then when you arrive back in town the next day it’s as though Santa’s little helpers have sprinkled their magic over the streets. The only problem I have is that it’s not quite Christmas yet and even though November has Bonfire Night at the start of the month, which has been completely superseded by an Americanised Halloween, it seems to hang around at the back row of the chorus not doing much, waiting for December to push its way to the front of the stage in all it’s peacock finery… and it’s different for our US cousins who have Thanksgiving to break up tedium… perhaps we need to invent our own new mid-season festival before the big show-stopper arrives. Or maybe not, i’m not sure any of us could handle any more cake…
slow-cooked cinnamon-spiced buns
yes, you couldn’t keep e away for long but here I am, back to the slow-cooker once more. This time with something a little different… when I saw this recipe in Miss South’s brilliant book Slow Cooked I was so intrigued I just had to have a go. The dough is very easy to make with barely a knead in sight and the only slightly tricky part is the rolling out and spreading of the filling but because this recipe makes double the amount you need you’re rewarded for you hard efforts by the joy of knowing you can freeze half and make these glorious buns again without the hassle. The texture is exceptionally light which is mainly due to the fact that the gradual heating of the slow cooker rises the buns as they bake… you quite simply have to bake these buns!
for the dough
450g plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 sachets of fast action dried yeast
75g butter – melted
1 egg – beaten
for the filling
100g softened butter
100g soft brown sugar
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon honey – warmed
sift the flour into a large bowl and add the sugar, salt and yeast. Gently melt the butter then add it to the milk and beaten egg and pour it into the flour. Bring it together (I use a rubber spatula) and then once combined use your hands. It will be sticky and look a little ragged.
tip it out onto a floured surface and oil the bowl. Knead the dough for a few minutes until the surface becomes smooth and the while dough becomes a little drier. Place it back into the bowl, cover with a tea towel and allow it to rise for at least 30 minutes
whilst the dough is proving make the filling… mix the soft butter with the brown sugar and add the spices and set aside
once the dough is proved, lift it out of the bowl and onto a floured surface. Roll it out to a rectangle 45cm long by 20cm wide… this sounds quite daunting but actually the dough is very pliable and rolls into shape nicely.
use the back of a spoon the spread the filling out onto the dough ensuring you go all the way to the edges, then carefully roll the long end of the dough up towards you to create a tight roll.
line the base and sides of your slow cooker with some greaseproof paper, then cut the long roll in half (wrap one half in cling film and freeze) then cut the remaining into 3cm thick spirals and place them into the slow cooker, one in the centre and the rest around it in a flower pattern
place 4 sheets of kitchen paper on top of the slow cooker and pop the lid on (the paper will absorb any moisture) and set the slow cooker on high for 1 1/2 hours… after 1 hour, take the lid off and brush the top of the buns with warm honey, then place the paper and lid back on and continue to slow cook until the timer is finished.
if you don’t have a slow cooker these can be baked in a 20cm round greased and lined cake tin… I would suggest 170C for 30-40 minutes but check they don’t burn!
… these taste amazing served warm but even though they only lasted until the afternoon, tasted just as good cold…
I am entering this into this months Cooking with Herbs bloggers group hosted by Karen from Lavender and Lovage as the theme is Sugar and Spice
eat and of course, enjoy!