My Easter plans fell through due to an unseasonable bout of hail storms and minor blizzards here in Berlin. Holing up in my house, and baking things that will ultimately lead my BMI to exceed my age, seemed far more appealing than digging out a pair of salopettes. These pastries turned out to be the perfect project for a bad-weather-weekend as they are time-consuming and messy to make and completely delicious to eat, especially warm from the oven.
The original recipe for these featured an awful lot of butter and sugar, particularly in the glaze. Personally, I don’t think these need to be iced, as the star of any cinnamon bun is always going to be the filling.
The dough plays its secondary part quite well, but it was the product of one of the most counterintuitive recipes I have ever worked from. Firstly, the butter was added after all the other ingredients had already been kneaded together, which isn’t ideal when you’re working by hand. Secondly, kneading more flour into the mixture is actively encouraged in the recipe. This is something I have always been taught to avoid and in hindsight I think I would make the, admittedly, sticky dough more manageable by french folding it for a while, rather than using additional flour. Thirdly, cream cheese is folded into the dough, but unfortunately rather a lot of it ended up being squirted back onto my worktop when I rolled it out. Next time, I might reduce the faff, by using a brioche-y dough. Having said that, it is a nice idea and made for a lovely texture, so definitely worth a try.
This recipe was adapted from http://joythebaker.com/2009/06/cream-cheese-cinnamon-rolls/
for the dough
1 sachet of active dry yeast (7g)
1/2 tsp sugar and 40g caster sugar (try substituting vanilla sugar for some of the caster sugar)
60ml milk, room temperature
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 egg and 1 egg yolk
360g plain flour, plus more for kneading
3/4 tsp salt
120g butter, softened
for the filling
50g brown sugar (dark or light depending on your preference)
100g nuts, finely chopped (I used a mixture of hazelnuts and walnuts)
50g apple, chopped into small cubes (I don’t like raisins, but if you do then raisins or an apple/raisin mix would be lovely)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup
100g full-fat cream cheese
50g butter, melted
Mix the yeast, 1/2 tsp of sugar, and warm water (about 45°C) in a jug, and leave to froth up for ca. 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the sugars, milk, and eggs, then add the yeast mixture. Sift in the flour and salt and mix until the dough comes together. Knead for a couple of minutes, then add the butter and knead again. (Note: this seems like quite a strange step and if you’re kneading by hand, like I was, I’d recommend putting in the butter at the same time as all the other ingredients) The mixture will be fairly sticky and the original recipe states to add some more flour if necessary. Knead until the dough is elastic and shiny, then place in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, around 2 hours.
To make the filling, combine the fruit with the dry ingredients, then thoroughly mix in the honey or maple syrup.
Once the dough has risen sufficiently, turn out on the worktop and knock back. Then roll out to a square(-ish) shape, about 25x25cm. Stir the cream cheese, to soften it, and spread evenly onto the dough. Fold the dough into thirds, first vertically, then horizontally. Turn over so the seam is facing downwards.
Roll out the dough again, this time to a rectangle about 25x50cm in size. (Note: You know that bit in Jurassic Park, when Richard Attenborough’s character utters the immortal phrase ‘Life will find a way’? Well, the same rule applies to cream cheese – it will burst out on the short sides of the dough, while you’re rolling it. Deep breaths; it will be ok.)
Brush the melted butter over the dough, then spread the filling evenly over the top and press into the dough, leaving a gap of an inch at one of the short ends. This is where the roll will be sealed. Then roll up the dough tightly. With the seam facing downwards, trim the edges, then cut the roll into 10 pieces with a serrated knife. Place in a well greased baking tin, cover with a tea towel, and leave to rise for another 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas mark 5. Bake the swirls for 30 minutes, until they are golden brown.
Best eaten warm from the oven, with your hot beverage of choice.