25 January 2015

Holy Maple & Cinnamon Swirls!

If you hate cinnamon, beat it. You can't sit with us.


When I was in Bolivia I pretty much lived off cinnamon buns. They dig American food there, and cinnamon swirls are pretty much as American as sweet treats come. Being back home for a month, I've been longing for a toasty cinnamon bun with a cup of coffee. Sadly, cinnamon buns aren't much of a thing here in the UK; I can't just nip to the local and grab some like you could in the US.


I've been doing some research, and I've came up with the easiest, most straightforward recipe for you to try. This recipe creates a cluster of soft, fluffy buns with a spiral of maple & cinnamon sugar and topped off with a thick, silky vanilla cream cheese frosting. They're squidgy, toasty and oh-so warming - perfect for a frosty January!

As for ingredients, they're surprisingly simple and cheap to make. I had to run to the shops, but you'll probably have all the ingredients you need in the cupboards already!


___________________________________________

All You Need:

Bun Dough
1 pkt dried yeast
50g white sugar
200ml milk
50g of butter (melted)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring
600g plain flour (and a little extra for the counter-top!)
1 level teaspoon of salt
Oil (just for greasing)

Maple-Cinnamon Sugar Filling
100g light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons of Maple syrup

Cream Cheese Frosting
100g full-fat cream cheese 
170g of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla flavouring
splash of water, if needed
_____________________________________________


1) Firstly, let's awaken our yeast. Add your 50g of white sugar to a small bowl.



 Now add around 40ml warm, tepid water that the yeast can thrive in - not too hot, not too cold. 



Open your sachet of dried yeast and sprinkle the goods evenly across the surface of the water. Don't mix them in. Just let them swim happily on the surface for about 5 minutes while we crack on with the dough.




2) Let's start on the dough. We'll be using liquid ingredients first. It's vital that they're all warm and at room temperature, so our yeast can be snug as a bug in a rug, and won't be mercilessly killed!

Add your milk to a large mixing bowl...



...followed by your melted butter...



...and ultimately followed by an egg, your vanilla flavouring and all of your yeasty soup! Mix it up well.


3) Mix your salt in with your flour. Add the flour in bit by bit - I added mine in one third at a time.



As you add in your flour, you'll notice it get more doughy and incredibly hard to mix! Put some knuckle into it - unless you have a table-top mixer, in which case, use it with the dough-hook attachment and chillax.

If your dough is incredibly sticky, add small amounts of flour until your dough is alright to handle without having fingers covered in goo!

4) Oil up a spare mixing bowl and add your dough ball.



Cover the bowl in cling film or a tea-towel and place it somewhere quite warm for 1hr 30mins. This lets the yeast begin to thrive in your dough, and it will puff up in volume. You could place it next to a radiator, or in front of your fire. 

I know it's a loooong time to wait! I watched Bridget Jones' Diary while my dough was cosily nestled on my fireplace. Great bonding experience!

5) Your dough should have puffed up in volume now. Take off your cover and punch the dough down a bit to squash it. Slide the dough out of the bowl onto a flour-dusted counter-top. 




Roll it around in the flour for a bit and get your dough nice and dusty. Tuck it, fold it, twist it, stretch it, any way you want it!



Once you have a soft, manageable dough, take a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a rectangle.




I didn't have a rolling pin to hand, so I just used an old bottle of vino!



6) Now let's make our cinnamon-maple sugar filling! Add your sugars and cinnamon to a bowl.



Now let's add some jazz!



Add your maple syrup and mix until you have a sweet, brown, slushy sand.




Rub your sugary, spicy slush into your dough. Make special effort to rub cinnamon right to the edges of the 2 shorter sides of the rectangle. These sides are perpendicular to the direction we'll be rolling it, so they need just as much sweet, sugary lovin'!



Before you roll, take a moment to appreciate the incredible smell of the cinnamon-maple sugar. It is astronomically good!



7) Let's roll!

Take one of the long sides of the rectangle, and fold a loose flap of pastry over onto the top. This initial fold needs to be loose, to ensure the rolls will be circular and have a perfect, cinnamony spiral. If you do it too tight, it won't roll smoothly and you'll end up with a weird, pointy mess, like a really crap boob job.



Once you roll it to the end, dab some water on the edge of the flap, just to help it stick to the body of the roll.



8) Now we need to take our super-long roll, and split it into little baby rolls!



Cut the roll into 4 logs, and then furthermore cut each log into 4 thick 'coins'. Use a very sharp knife, and use very long, drawn-out strokes - it'll preserve the form of the spiral and keep it nice and pretty.



9) Grease a rectangular baking dish - anything with high sides. Rest your buns flat, with a little gap between each one. 



FAB TIP! Now, I made a few too many buns for my dish, so I popped them onto an oiled baking tray and stashed them in the freezer. Don't worry - this will not kill the yeast! All you have to do is remove them from the freezer a few hours before you intend to make them, and allow them to thaw completely. Then, simply continue with the steps from here as normal!

Cover the dish with cling film and once again, leave it somewhere warm for 1 hour to puff up. About 15 minutes before they're ready, preheat your oven to 180°C (350F) so it's all ready and good to go!



10) After an hour, your rolls will have puffed up in volume and should be quite snug with each other (if not, they will probably embrace while they cook in the oven, don't worry!)

Brush your buns with some milk to give them a nice, tanned sheen when they cook.



Slide them into the oven, and bake for around 30 minutes until golden and brown.

Let me tell you, the smell in your house will be INCREDIBLE. Freshly-baked cinnamon buns make your home smell more gorgeous than any Yankee Candle could ever attain. It's almost a spiritual experience.


GTFO bitch...you ain't needed.

11)  Take your buns out of the oven and revel in their glory. Ideally, they should be fused together and snug, with little brown spirals all over the place.


Of course, you could just eat them like this if you like, but to make a real decadent treat, you really should give them a good frosting off!


Cream Cheese Frosting:

Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature. It's easier to work with that way. Mash it into a paste with your vanilla flavouring, and add in your icing sugar. Mix really well until you have a very thick, creamy icing. Ideally, you want it to be of a pourable consistency, so you can lash it across your buns. Add very small amounts of water - a dribble at a time - until you have a creamy icing that has a yoghurt consistency.


Then go to work!

You can lash it over and make it look edgy, or simply smother the whole thing in icing - it's totally up to you!



You can serve them right away! They're best eaten when they're still possessed by the warm sprit of your oven. They are a darling when enjoyed with a cup of creamy coffee.


I hope you enjoy this recipe! In total, it does take quite a long time, so make sure you have some small errands lined up to do that you can crack on with while your dough is resting. Apart from that, the preparation time should only be around half an hour! No time at all - and you'll end up with a lot of tasty swirls as your reward!


Thanks for reading!

Anthony :)



14 January 2015

New Orleans 7-Up Soul Cake

It sounds utterly revolting.

But believe me, it is a truly gorgeous creation!


If you're totally not convinced, I urge you to read on.

You're probably thinking: 'who on earth thought of putting 7Up and cake together?!" In fact, this recipe has been practised for almost a century!

Back in the day, 7Up used to be a medicated soft drink to ease anxiety. The active ingredient was removed from 7Up in the 1950's, but people's love of the lemon-lime zing meant it lingered on and on thereafter.



7Up cake seems to be pretty popular in American soul culture. In the mid-1900's, African-American women who were housemaids in the South would make this cake - soda was often used then to give cakes a wonderful voluptuous lift. When it fell out of fashion, housemaids ended up handing down their recipes to their children and grand-children, keeping the 7Up cake alive in southern soul.

And here it is today - an incredibly refreshing, eccentric citrus cake. Not to mention a sour 7Up sugar glaze that rounds it off rather nicely. It tastes so fresh and tangy that you'll forget you're eating cake - well, almost!


Anyways, you gotta try it, so I've put together a straightforward, easy recipe for you!

____________________________________

What Y'All Need:

450g Plain Flour
600g Caster Sugar
300g Butter
5 Eggs
1 can (300ml) 7-Up
1/2 teaspoon of Baking Power
3 tablespoons of Lemon Curd
1 teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

7-Up Icing:
7-Up (a splash or two)
Icing Sugar (6 heaped tablespoons)
Lemon/Lime zest (totally optional)
____________________________________

1. Preheat an oven to 170°C (330F).

Butter a cake tin 'til it's nice and slippy. These cakes are usually baked in a Bundt cake tin, which as a hole in the centre and a fancy pattern on the bottom. They were very fashionable with ladies in the Deep South. I didn't have one of these retro-style tins in my arsenal, so I just used an empty tin can.

I placed it in the centre of a round cake tin, and filled it with water to weigh it down while the cake cooked.


I like this 'ring' style of cake. It's a bit more interesting, and it feels like you get more cake for your buck.

2. Cream your butter into a smooth, angelic paste.




3. Add your sugar into the butter, little by little, until you have a fluffy, lemon-coloured snow.



 It is a shit-load of sugar indeed - but hey, it's cake! Go hard or go home.

4. Mix in your 5 eggs, one by one.


Don't be alarmed if your mixture looks a bit slimy and congealed. Keep working it. Magic is about to happen.



5. Add your teaspoon of vanilla extract and your 3 tablespoons of lemon curd. Mix it really well, the lemon curd can be a lumpy motherf*cker.



Treat yourself to some lemon curd if you can handle the tang.

I'm all about that tang life.


6. Measure out your flour, and mix your 1/2 teaspoon of baking power into it. Now, it's not a lot of baking powder for such a hefty cake! For this cake, the 7Up is gonna do most of the lifting!


Gradually add it to your mixture in stages. Sift it from real high up, so it traps extra air into your mixture as it falls.


Fold the flour in very gently each time, by mixing in a figure-of-8 motion. This technique traps more air and ensures a gorgeous velvety crumb in your cake!




7. Now's the fun part!

Crack open your 7Up.


Have a sip. Baker's treat.


Now pour about two-thirds of the can into the cake batter. Do this gradually so your cake batter doesn't freak out and seize up!



It will look like a disaster. Just keep mixing, and I promise you will end up with your creamy, smooth cake batter again!


Keep ahold of your leftover 7-Up, you'll need it for the frosting!

8. Empty your batter into your cake tin and gently smooth it over on the top.



That's it!

Get it in the oven, where it needs to cook for 60-70 minutes. It's bloody ages, but it cooks very slowly, owing to a cake with a truly special, divine texture! You won't regret it!

Voila!


Zingy 7Up Frosting

If you make this 7-Up cake, you just gotta to make this frosting to accompany it. It is, well, the icing on the cake!

Cream together your icing sugar and your 7Up until you have a smooth, creamy liquid. It should be a slightly runny, that's alright, it's going to be more of a glaze. If you prefer, you could make a thicker, whiter icing by adding more icing sugar and mixing it into a thick, white paste.


Drizzle your icing over your cake when it's completely cooled and removed from the tin.




And you can eat it immediately!

___________________________________

I hope I've intrigued you with this recipe! Being totally honest, I was horrified when I first heard of this idea, but I just could not knock it till I tried it.

It's a very quirky, eccentric creation and it's guaranteed to turn heads at the mention. Give it a go!

Thanks for reading!

Anthony :)