With so much going on in the world right now, I find my kitchen is a little pocket of calm and a place that feels like normal in a life not so normal. It’s somewhere that truly takes my mind off things.
I had been wanting to work with dough for weeks and had a crisp idea of how I wanted these buns to turn out. I have to say, I’m very happy. Inside is a soft buttery brioche swirled with a cardamom spiced brown butter sugar. The tins are coated with butter and sugar that slowly caramelises as the brioche bakes, creating a beautiful golden base. You’ll smell these before they’re ready; the beautiful cardamom butter wafting through the house. Once they’re baked; they’re brushed with a mix of brown butter and honey, finished with a sprinkling of sugar to give it a glorious shine.
Ingredients – Makes 6 x 4inch or 12 individual muffin-size *
*This recipe makes either 6 extra large buns baked in 4-inch cake tins or 12 individual portions in muffin tins (or similar sized baking rings/ramekins 2x3inch.) I have tried each of these and my favourite is the larger buns. The larger provide more of the soft interior than the individual. However, these of course can be made like traditional cinnamon rolls in one tin close together. I understand a lot of people don’t have 6 x 4-inch cake tins so I suggest you try baking one or two large ones and then use the rest of the dough to make individuals.
- 300g strong flour
- pinch of salt
- 25g caster sugar
- 7g instant yeast
- 70ml slightly warm milk
- 3 medium eggs
- 140g unsalted butter, room temperature
- a little extra softened butter for greasing
- a little extra caster sugar for dusting pans
- 200g unsalted butter
- 80g caster sugar
- 80g soft dark brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh ground cardamom **
- 30g brown butter (taken from ‘filling’ butter)
- 30g honey
- granulated sugar to sprinkle
**using freshly ground cardamom is important for a floral strong cardamom flavour. You can grind the whole cardamom pods in a spice/coffee grinder with a little of the sugar or use a pestle & mortar.
The night before (preparing the brioche dough)
- Place the strong flour, salt and caster sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with a dough hook. Mix to combine the salt and sugar into flour. Add in the instant yeast. Next, add in the 3 eggs and then the warm milk. Beat on medium speed for 5 minutes until the dough becomes elastic. Gradually add in the butter in small chunks while keeping the mixer on low-medium speed. Continue to beat until the butter is fully incorporated. You’re dough will be ready when you can hear it slapping around the bowl. This dough is quite sticky and soft so don’t be alarmed, it will firm up as it chills and rests overnight.
- Oil a large mixing bowl and place the brioche dough inside. Cover the top with clingfilm and leave to prove in the fridge overnight.
- To prepare the filling we need to make some brown butter. For this, place the 200g of butter into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Leave to melt completely. Continue to cook the butter, stirring occasionally, until it becomes brown and has a speckled foam on top. Once fragrant and bubbling, take off the heat and leave to cool.
- Once cooled slightly; pour out 30g of the browned butter and keep to one side for the honey glaze tomorrow. Add in the rest of the filling ingredients into the remaining browned butter and stir together. Leave at room temperature until the morning.
In the morning
- Depending on what time of year it is, your filling will have probably set overnight. Place it over low heat or in the microwave to very gently soften again. Don’t get it too hot or the sugar will begin to cook and crystallise.
- Take your dough from the fridge and tip it out onto a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out into a 30 x 50cm rectangle. Spread over your brown sugar filling in an even layer, making sure to get to the edges. (I like to use a small off-set palette knife for this.)
- Starting from the shortest side, roll the dough into a tight spiralled log. Place the log onto a baking tray or plate and place into the fridge to firm up again.
- In the meantime, prepare your baking tins. If you are making extra large buns you will need to use 4-inch cake tins. If you are making individual buns you will need either 2 x 6 hole muffin tins or rings/ramekins of a similar size. Take soft butter and liberally grease the sides and bottom of your desired tin/tins. Take a tablespoon of caster sugar and tap it all around the tin so that it sticks to the butter, tapping out the excess. (This will create a beautiful caramelised exterior.)
- Once your logs have firmed up, take them from the fridge and cut. For extra large buns, cut into 6 pieces roughly 6cm thick. For individual, cut into 12 pieces roughly 2cm thick; making sure to cut off any scruffy edges.
- Place into the tins, cover loosely with clingfilm and leave to prove for 1hr (for individual) to 1 1/2hr (for extra large) at room temperature. The buns are done when the dough indents but slowly springs back when you poke it.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160°C. Bake individual buns for 20-25 minutes and extra-large for 30-35 minutes.
- While your buns are baking, warm the 30g of browned butter you separated earlier and add in 30g of honey.
- Once your buns are golden brown and bubbling, take them out of the oven and brush liberally with the brown butter honey. Sprinkle them with granulated sugar and carefully take them out of the hot tin before they cool otherwise the caramelised sides will stick.
- Serve while warm. Best eaten they day they are made.