Sweet Sticky Sin

Ultimate Sticky Buns

The last time I made Cinnamon Buns, my friend Karen pointed out sticky buns to me. Apparently it was exactly like cinnamon buns, but on speed. Or a sugar high. I read about how it had a sticky caramel glaze with pecans and I pretty much salivated all over my keyboard. True story.

If you want, the recipe is right here. I didn’t bother hunting down dark corn syrup (I used glucose instead) and I reduced the sugar a fair bit because I really don’t like overly sweet things. Even then, I still found the buns really sweet.

I went a bit crazy with the pecans, as you can see. And that’s the sticky caramel glaze. It smelled AMAZING. I used a springform caketin for this and my only advice if you’re doing the same is to double foil the base of the tin and put it on a deeper tray because that glaze is going to find a way to seep out and if you hate cleaning your oven as much as I do, you’d heed my advice.

Fresh out of the oven and it smelled divine. I was dying to pick away at it.

Flipped over with all the glazed goodness oozing everywhere. It was seriously one of those silent foodgasm moments when I had a fresh out of the oven piece. Yes it was really sweet but oh goodness was it ever sticky and the pecans added the crunch I so loved. And the scent of cinnamon that lingered in my apartment for the next 24 hours? Major perk.


Evoke

Whenever I read interviews of chefs, they often talk about the interaction between chef and diner without actual contact but through their plates. A chef is able to really interact with a diner by invoking memories or provoking their thoughts with their food and I happen to greatly agree with this. I find food to be intensely personal and more often than not, deeply comforting.

I guess there in lies the problem with my love for chips, hey? ;)

But in all seriousness, I’m pretty great at attaching momentous moments with food (dates, birthdays, anniversaries, fights, accidents) and there’s all sorts of associations with food that make it so personal. A freshly made batch of basil pesto remind me of my eldest brother and how he cooked us meals during his university holidays and how I loved all his food and his passion for it probably triggered mine; a sweet spicy scented Hokkien dish called hong bak reminds me of my late great grandmother as every time my mum cooks that dish, she reminds me that it is a dish from her childhood and the recipe came from two generations away; and whenever I make Hainanese Chicken Rice I am reminded of my late paternal grandmother who would cook it for us after slaughtering her own chicken and how she so enthusiastically watched us eat every mouthful and proceed to smother us with kisses because we never learned to speak Hainanese so we couldn’t communicate with her and that was the only way she knew how to tell us she loved us.

Norwegian Cinnamon Buns

Norwegian Cinnamon Buns

I’m not certain I have an actual memory that involves cinnamon buns but this recipe was the first bread recipe I ever attempted. I must have been about 21 and was testing out the generous gift from my father, my very own KitchenAid in a girly pink colour. To date it’s still one of my favourite presents ever, but my parents are pretty awesome at gifting for “milestone” birthdays.

Fresh from the oven

Fresh from the oven

I had the biggest craving for these pillowy soft buns for over a week and I was too busy and lazy to get to it and was pretty close to heading out and just buying some from a bakery to satisfy the craving but I remembered just how great this was and I couldn’t bring myself to pay for something inferior.

This recipe comes from one of my favourite cookbooks of all time, Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess.

Norwegian Cinnamon Buns
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Be A Domestic Goddess

For the dough:
600g flour (plus more depending on stickiness of dough)
100g sugar
1/2 tsp salt
21g yeast or 45g fresh yeast
100g butter
400ml milk
2 eggs
(A 33 cm x 24 cm roasting tin or large brownie tin, or like me: a 12″ springform cake tin, lined at the bottom and sides)

For the filling:
150g unsalted butter, softened
150g sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, beaten, for glaze

1. Combine the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Melt the butter and whisk it into the 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. (If you find it is too sticky, just add more flour until its easier to handle – I added quite a fair bit more flour just to be able to get it off the dough hook) Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 220˚C.

3. 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.

3. Roll out the rest of the dough on a lightly floured surface, aiming to get a rectangle of roughly 50 x 25 cm. 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 2 cm slices which should make about 20 rounds. Sit the founds 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.

4. Brush them with egg and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes to let them get duly puffy.

5. Put in the hot oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, by which time the buns will have risen and will be golden-brown in colour. Keep a close eye on them and rotate if you need to, because they do brown quite fast.

6. Don’t worry if they catch in places. 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. Best served warm and just roughly torn (don’t worry about getting it in perfectly shaped buns, I know I wasn’t fussed!).

Ready for the oven

They don’t taste quite as great cold (although they’re not bad in any way!) but a few seconds in the microwave will fix it right up.

There’s just something soothing about sugar and cinnamon together and the crunchy crispness of that buttery mixture after its been baked in the oven. I’m so terribly in love with these buns that I had to give some away to prevent myself from scoffing it all down. It really pays to be my friend because of the goodies I hand out rather frequently! Apart from the fact that I’m all around awesome and I have modesty in spades.

Pillowy softness

I have to confess that they’re all gone right now and unfortunately, majority went straight into my own tummy during my assignment writing. My snacking habits are rather disgusting but better this and raw almonds than Grain Waves, right? That’s what I keep telling myself but I’ve started punishing myself in the gym by going to RPM classes as well. My bottom hasn’t felt this sore since the first time I attempted ice skating and my friends refused to let me hold on to the sides. I did eventually learn to ice skate without falling but I fear my bum has been permanently flattened from that ordeal. My only consolation is it’s better to have a terribly sore but firm ass than a jiggly one that screams, “I ATE AN ENTIRE BATCH OF NORWEGIAN CINNAMON BUNS BY MYSELF!”

Perhaps a few more years down the road, my memory of this particular recipe would be of the time I made it whilst struggling through my painful assignments as a university student, or better yet, they will forever remind my friends of me and the batch I shared with them.


Cherry Topper

It may come as no surprise that I’m a homebody. I find pleasure in tinkering about the apartment or just curled up on the couch with a teapot of tea warmed up beside me and my laptop on the armrest of the couch. Other times I’m happy to be curled up with my throw and a book.

Afternoon tea

One afternoon…

That was taken one afternoon almost a month ago when I was feeling particularly fancy. I whipped out a Wedgwood teacup.

Wedgwood teacup

Wedgwood Harlequin “Ribbon & Rose” teacup

Another of my mum’s influence on me as she’s an avid teapot and teacup collector. But I digress.

I’m having one those days today. Enjoying being home on a miserably cold day. I was trying to figure out what to do with an opened can of sour cherries (from a Black Forest Gateux which I should blog about…) and was thinking of making muffins but it’d require me to brave the cold to hit the supermarket for some ingredients and anyway, I didn’t really feel like eating a muffin for lunch.

Vanilla French Toast

Vanilla French Toast

I’ve been meaning to consume the wholemeal loaf of bread we have sitting on our counter but never got around to it. I really wish they’d sell half loaves at the supermarket. In a two person household of girls who don’t really eat bread on a daily basis, our bread intake is never enough to warrant an entire loaf. Then comes the mad rush to use it all before it goes bad. Sandwiches, bread and butter pudding, French toasts… I actually had two Croque Madames for dinner two nights ago.

Today I decided it was time for some French toast, which I usually love with some cinnamon sugar or maple syrup.

I’m not really sure this warrants a recipe but here it goes, something quick and easy. In and out of the kitchen in 10 minutes and ready to shove forkfuls of delicious bread into my eager mouth.

Sour cherries

Sour cherries and syrup

Quick & Fuss-free French Toast
Serves 1 very hungry girl

4 slices of bread, cut into half diagonally
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter, plus extra to serve
Sour cherries, syrup reserved

1. Beat the eggs, add the vanilla extract and salt to it.

2. Heat up butter in a small skillet over low-medium heat. Dip bread slices into egg mixture, fry in skillet until brown. Turn over and repeat for other side.

3. Serve up on a plate with a bit of butter, top with sour cherries and drizzle reserved syrup all over.

4. Dig in and thank me later.