I decided to attempt baking this purely because it looked so good in the book. After reading through the recipe, I had a few doubts (like 3 sachets of yeast???), but decided I’ll go ahead and try it anyway. I figured I’d half the recipe since 20 buns sounded a bit much. Luckily the recipe was easy enough to divide. So here is the ‘full’ recipe from Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess:
for the dough:
600 g flour [What type? Plain, Italian 00, Bread? I decided on Plain, sifted.]
100 g sugar
½ tsp salt
21 g easy blend yeast or 45 g fresh yeast [I use Lowan’s instant dried yeast, for half the recipe I use 3 tsp yeast.]
100 g butter
400 ml milk [Do we need to warm it? I warmed up the milk in the microwave.]
for the filling:
150 g soft, unsalted butter
150 g sugar [What type? I used castor sugar as I don’t have granulated sugar]
1 ½ tsp cinnamon [for a halved recipe, I used 1 tsp instead of 3/4 tsp.]
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
Roasting tin approximately 33cm x 22cm or large brownie tin, lined with baking parchment bottom and sides. [I decided to halve the recipe so used a 8cm x 8 cm glass Pyrex dish.]
Preheat the oven to 230°C/gas mark 8. [I only did this during the second rising]
Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter and whisk it into milk and eggs, then stir it into the flour mixture. Mix to combine and then knead the dough either by hand or using the dough hook of a food mixer until its smooth and springy. [I used my recently acquired KitchenAid to knead the dough. For this halved recipe, 300g of flour was very sticky! There was no way to knead it. Initially, I used plain flour but after adding whatever I had at home it was still too wet to knead properly so I had to add some Italian 00 flour (about 50g). In total, I used almost 400g of flour! It was still quite sticky but I decided to proceed with it.]
Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes.
Take one-third of the dough and roll it or stretch it to fit your tin; this will form the bottom of each bun when it has cooked. Roll out the rest of the dough on a lightly floured surface, aiming to get a rectangle of roughly 50 x 25cm. [I don’t have much experience rolling out flour so it took me quite a while to get it to the required size.]
Mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl and then spread the rectangle with the buttery cinnamon mixture. Try to get even coverage on the whole of the dough. Roll it up from the longest side until you have a giant sausage. Cut the roll into 2cm slices which should make about 20 rounds. [After rolling, it was difficult to cut the roll with a knife. I used cooking string to cut it instead. Got about 10 rolls.]
Sit the rounds in lines on top of the dough in the tin, swirly cut-side up. Don’t worry if they don’t fit snugly together as they will swell and become puffy when they prove. Brush them with egg and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes to let them get duly puffy.
Put in the hot oven [I put it in the lower middle rack, my oven has 4 slots.] and cook for 20-25 minutes, by which time the buns will have risen and will be golden-brown in colour. Don’t worry it they catch in places. [After 20 minutes, top was starting to brown and a little burnt – I took it out and it smelled divine!]
Remove them from the tin and leave to cool slightly on a rack – it’s easy just to pick up the whole sheet of parchment and transfer them like that – before letting people tear them off, to eat warm.
After the initial 20 minutes, I tried one and realised it wasn’t really cooked in the center! So I covered the top with foil (to prevent it from browning further) and put it back in the oven for another 10 minutes. After that it was fine.
This is definitely something I would make again but next time:
- make the full recipe and use my roasting tin (I suspect the glass dish affected the cooking time)
- add more cinnamon (maybe double the quantity?)
- try and find out what type of sugar Nigella uses (from the photo it looks like a much coarser type)
Lastly, do not halve the recipes (even if the ingredients co-operate, the method gets a bit fiddly!)