Baking is quite new to me and when I say new, I mean about one year new. My enjoyment for baking started out of greed and to satisfy me and Mark’s love for sweet things. Besides a love for chocolate, we love a bit of cake. It would be safe to say we both have a massive sweet tooth.
I don't come from a family with bakers and so I didn’t grow up eating home-made baked cakes but my sweet tooth was appeased through other sweets like these. I suppose it’s because baking isn’t a part of Vietnamese cuisine. The oven in my parent’s house is still as good as new, and has been used once when Mark cooked them a Christmas roast dinner when we still lived in Sydney. This may explain why baking didn’t come naturally to me. But I have grown fond of it and I find the process therapeutic. It still amazes me that you can mix together a few ingredients, place it in the oven and after a short time a cake is born.
Baking bread on the other hand, is something I fear and have little confidence in. Perhaps it's my past disaster experiences that have knocked the confidence out of me. But I haven’t given up entirely and to help me gain more confidence in this area, I have started building my repertoire of baking cookbooks.
The Scandinavian Baking cookbook by Trine Hahnemann is one I recently acquired and have thoroughly enjoyed reading. So far I have attempted a few of the cake recipes with success. Today I would like to share my adaptation of her cinnamon buns with the addition of generous chocolate chunks. The idea was to replicate the same rolls Mark and I had in Berlin last year. They were warm and soft to the touch, pungent with cinnamon and the chocolate chunks were deliciously melted in the bun. At the time, it was just what we needed – an afternoon pick me up with our coffee from a day of sightseeing.
You can and add anything you want really to this recipe. They were incredibly easy to make and I encourage you to use fresh yeast, as it would make all the difference. I was able to easily source fresh yeast from a local health food store. These beaut buns are best eaten straight from the oven and can be kept for 2 days at the most in an airtight container.
With these cinnamon buns conquered, I’ll put my fear aside and take on the next challenge – attempt one of Trine’s bread recipes. And I can’t wait.
Adapted from The Scandinavian Cookbook.
FOR THE BUNS
50g fresh yeast
500ml lukewarm whole milk
1 egg lightly beaten
850g 00 grade flour and more for dusting
100g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp salt
150g soft butter
Add the milk to a large mixing bowl and crumble the yeast into it and stir to dissolve. Add the egg, flour, sugar, cardamom and salt. Mix the butter into the dough and knead well on a floured work surface.
Place the dough into a bowl, cover with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until it is double in size.
Trine suggests that you could leave the dough to rise in the fridge for 1-2 days if you have the time.
FOR THE FILLING
200g soft butter
150g caster sugar
4 tsp ground cinnamon
100g chocolate chunks or chips
Mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl until combined.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4.
Divide the dough in half and roll each piece of dough on a floured work surface to make a rectangle that is 40 x 30cm in size. Spread half the filling over the dough and sprinkle half the chocolate chunks over.
Roll the dough into a wide cylinder from the long side. You should end up with a long, slim log. Then cut the log into 2.5 cm slices.
Repeat this process for the second half of the dough.
Line baking trays or tins with baking paper. Place the cut rolls on the paper. Cover and let it rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.
I experimented and placed my rolls in a round baking tin so they rose upwards and the buns were tightly packed in the tin. When baked, you could then easily break each piece off.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Allow the buns to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. I like to eat these whilst they are still warm.