Schnecken, recipe by Nigella Lawson

“Schnecken means ‘snail’, which is what these German-American coiled buns resemble. They are like the Norwegian cinnamon buns, only more so. By which I mean they are stickier, puffier, gooier and generally more over the top. God, I love them.” - from Nigella’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

for the syrup
for the dough

Ingredients

for the dough
500g bread flour
50g caster sugar
½ teaspoon salt
7g (1 sachet) easy-blend yeast or 15g fresh yeast
75g unsalted butter
150ml milk
2 large eggs

for the syrup
125g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons demerara sugar
4 tablespoons maple syrup
3 tablespoons golden syrup200g walnuts or pecans pieces

for the glaze
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk

for the  filling
50g caster sugar
100g demerara sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

12-bun muffin tin, buttered parchment-lined roasting tin or baking tin for turning the sticky buns out onto later – large enough to cover muffin tin

Method

Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter in the milk – use a microwave and a measuring cup for ease – beat in the eggs and stir into the dry ingredients to make a dough.

Knead for 10 minutes or for 5 with a dough hook. When it’s springy and satiny, form it into a ball, put into an oiled bowl, turn to coat and cover with clingfilm. Leave it in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Using an electric mixer, start on the syrup: beat the butter until soft and smooth, and add the sugar, still beating. Beat in the syrups and then divide the mixture between the muffin cups. Top with the walnuts, about a tablespoonful in each sticky-based waiting cup. (I think I bungled this part a bit. My butter was not exactly soft when I started so it didn’t really mix well with the other ingredients. But in the end I don’t think it made a difference)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.

When the dough’s ready, knock it back, knead once or twice and then roll out to a large rectangle, approximately 60 by 30cm, with the long side nearest you. [Once again this part was a challenge. The dough was so tough and elastic. I finally conceded and  got Mr.J. to roll it out.]

Beat the egg and add the milk. Glaze the dough, using a pastry brush to paint, or just your fingers.

Mix the filling ingredients in a little bowl and sprinkle onto the dough.

Now, roll up the long side and away from you, carefully and firmly (though not too tightly), keeping a firm sausage shape.

Cut into 12 even slices, and lie each slice spiral-swirly cut side up, on top of the nuts and syrup in the muffin cups. [My slices weren't really even. I should have discarded the ends so that they were more uniformed in shaped.]

Leave to prove for about 20 minutes and when they’re risen and puffy, put into the oven and bake for 20 – 25 minutes, by which time they should be golden and cooked: crisp in parts, voluptuously gooey in others.

Place the roasting tin or baking sheet on top and turn the whole thing the other way up. [You will need oven gloves and a degree of caution for this.]

Remove the muffin tray and dislodge any nuts that are still stuck in it, adding them, along with any residual syrup, to the upturned buns. Leave to cool, then apply to face – as if you needed any encouragement. Makes 12.

Result

Absolutely delicious. It’s quite messy to make but so worth the effort. Compared to the Norwegian buns, these are so much more cinnamonny! (on reflection I can help but wonder if maybe there’s a mistake in the Norwegian bun recipe)

Future Attempt

This is one recipe that I can definitely see myself making again, and again. The recipe itself is quite accurate and I wouldn’t change a thing.

On a side note I must remember to put the muffin tin on top of a baking sheet when it;s in the oven. The syrup tends to spill over and can create quite a mess in the oven.

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