Swedish Cinnamon Whirls.
While I wait and wait for time to create new glories I shall relive past ones. And finally give you the recipe I once promised.
I have been obsessed with cinnamon whirls since I bought one in a fancy Swedish bakery in Edinburgh and dear god was it beautiful. Unlike anything I have ever tasted. There was none of that sugary sickly icing crap that you get on your average cinnamon bun, just a small sprinkling of what I have come to know is called pearl sugar. They were almost chewy, slightly bagelish in texture and they had a hint of something exotic in them, an intriguing taste of something magical, cardamom.
For weeks after that bun I fantasised about it. I daydreamed, I lusted, I poked and needled the Boy to take me back there for another one. And then one day I was struck with the realisation that I had an oven, I had flour, I had yeast and cinnamon. Goddammit, I could make my own! And so I did.
As always I tried to follow just one recipe and as always I found it impossible. One recipe is never enough, never quite right. The method weird, ingredients obscure. Two recipes though? Two recipes is best. Take what you like, throw away what you don't and maybe add a little something altogether new. Mostly this method works (sometimes it doesn't, but let's gloss over that ok?) and this time it was glorious.
20g of dried yeast
250ml milk at room temperature
500g plain flour
100g demerara sugar
150g softened butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom
40g softened butter
3 tablespoons demerara sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp water
pinch of salt
preheat the oven to gas mark 8 (23o degrees c)
mix the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom and yeast together in a big bowl (big I tell you, this shit's going to grow)
melt the butter and whisk it up with the milk and eggs and then stir this into the flour mixture
knead by hand, or, if you've just been given a shiny new kitchen mixer use the dough hook attachment thingy and knead until it's all smooth and springy and beautiful
form it into a ball, oil your big bowl a little, put the dough back in and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes
After 25 minutes or so roll the dough out into a rectangle on a lightly floured surface until it is about 5mm thick. It should be about twice as long as it is wide
mix up the filling ingredients in a small bowl. You're supposed to use 'softened' butter and make a kind of paste. Our butter is never soft as we live in A Very Cold Country and we don't have a microwave so I melted it in a pan, mixed in the sugar and cinnamon and then brushed the resultant buttery loveliness over the dough. This worked. (make sure you cover ALL of the dough, right up to the edges)
now roll. Roll up the rectangle into a big sausage (long ways. Or is it width ways? Whatever. It should be a long skinny sausage, not a short fat sausage) and cut the roll into 2cm slices
line a baking tray (roughly 20x30cm) with baking parchment and then place in all of the rounds, varying where the big ones from the middle and the littler ones from the ends go, with the swirly sides up. They don't need to be terribly snug as they'll puff up and get all friendly with each other before you know it.
Mix up the egg, water and salt for the glaze and brush it over every bit you can reach
Leave for 15 minutes to get duly puffy and then put in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes until they're golden and lovely. It seems quite impossible to cook them without some bits going very dark while others remain only just cooked (see above) but I don't think that matters really. The burnt bits are yummy and it stops them looking too professional which personally I think improves the taste.
Life the sheet of parchment out of the tin straight away once they're ready otherwise they will start to get soggy bottoms and then slide what should now be a whole sheet of pastry off the baking parchment and on to a cooling rack.
While they cool brew up some terribly strong, freshly ground coffee.
Once the coffee is ready get out your flowery china, or if flowers don't do it for you get out your china of choice. Pour the terribly strong coffee into tiny cups and tear a piece of cinnamon whirl from the whole. Enjoy then repeat.
It is ok to repeat as often as necessary as there is no icing on these whirls, which whips them far from the realms of naughtiness into a perfectly wholesome treat. Obviously.
Of course if you feel the need to ice them I won't tell anyone.
The Boy's verdict?
'They taste very professional'
'I know, but do you like them?'
'No, I don't like cinnamon.'
'What? But they're delicious. And they taste professional.'
'Yeah. I still don't like cinnamon'
'pffff. Freak' muttered while walking away, clutching a twirl.
I've since found a recipe for Schnecken. Which I quote from Nigella Lawson's How to Be a Domestic Goddess;
"...means 'snails' which is what these German-American coiled buns resemble. They are like 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.'
I can't wait to try them and this time I might even remember to take pictures of the process. Imagine that?