Cinnamon buns

My friend and her family went to Norway on holiday recently, and she sent me a postcard, in English, with the recipe for cinnamon buns [kannelbullar]. Presume kannel means cinnamon like cannelle in French. I just had to try some.
I decided to use my bread maker to make the dough, and then just had to roll it out, fill, roll it up, cut and give it a second rise. It worked out really well, and I'm very happy with the result.
You can, of course, make the dough by hand.

The recipe said it made 12, but I made one too big so only got 11!


2 tspns instant yeast [I used 1 sachet and it worked fine]
60g butter
50g sugar
150ml milk which has been scalded and cooled
1 egg
1/2 tspn salt
1 heaped tspn freshly ground cardamom
325g strong white flour


60g soft butter
60g caster sugar
3 tspns ground cinnamon
pearl sugar

Beat the egg and divide in half - half for dough and half to glaze buns.

Bread machine - put all the ingredients into the bucket and run on dough cycle.

By Hand - put flour and butter in a bowl and rub in; fold in the salt, sugar, cardamom and yeast. In another bowl pour in the milk and add half the egg and mix together. Add to the dry ingredients. Mix with your hand till you get a smooth, stretchy  dough [takes about 5 mins]. Leave the dough in a warm place till doubled in size. Knock back and knead again for 2-3 mins.

For both methods:

Once the dough is ready, turn onto a floured surface and roll into a large rectangle about 1/2 cm thick.
Make the filling - beat the butter, sugar and cinnamon together till smooth.
Spread the filling over the dough and roll up like a swiss roll. Cut into 12 slices.
Put each slice, cut side up, in a muffin case on a baking sheet. Cover with a damp teatowel or clingfilm and leave for about an hour to double in size.

Heat oven to 210C/gas 6-7 . I used gas 7 and a few buns were overcooked.

Egg wash the buns with the other half of the egg, and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
Bake buns for about 6 mins till golden.

Here's my buns before the second rise.

                                                           And here's a ready-to-eat bun.

They are delicious, and would be lovely warm for breakfast. For my own tastes, as a cinnamon fanatic, I'd like a bit more filling, otherwise I wouldn't change anything. I thought it would be a really complicated recipe to make, but it's easy, tho' a bit time consuming if you're making your own dough. I brought some pearl sugar back from France, but I'm sure one of the supermarkets would have some. The cardamom just gives a hint of another flavour in the background. I'll certainly make these again.


Honey and nut cookies

Now that my son is living at home, we seem to get through an awful lot of biscuits and cakes. I thought I'd start to make my own biscuits/cookies to fill the biscuit tin, so at least I know what's in them. I love most  American cookies as well as lots of great British favourites like digestives, shortbread, bourbon etc. so thought that in the next few weeks I'd bake a mixture.
With cookies, once you've found a good basic recipe, you can adapt it in many ways. When we lived in the US, my lovely neighbour gave me lots of her family recipes, including a basic one for cookies. This is it, adapted to UK measures and ingredients.

Oven 190C/375F/gas5. Grease a baking sheet or line with parchent paper or a silicone sheet.

Basic recipe

225g soft butter
140g caster sugar
1 beaten egg yolk
2 tspn vanilla extract
280g plain flour
pinch salt

Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl with a wooden spoon, then beat in egg yolk and vanilla essence. Stir in the flour and salt. Mix together to make a ball of dough.
Now you can either make the dough into a sausage shape and wrap in clingfilm and chillfor 30 mins or so, or roll out dough and cut into shapes. Bake on the baking sheet  for 12-15 mins till golden.

This is the basis for lots of other variations. I've tried and tested many over the years, and this is one of our favourites.

Honey and nut cookies

Basic ingredients as above plus:
40g cashew nuts [not salted], macadamia nuts or pine kernels, chopped
75g more butter
85g of a set [not runny] honey
85g icing sugar

2 baking sheets prepared as above.

Make the dough as above and from it take out tablspoons of the mixture and roll into small balls.
Put half of these on a prepared baking sheet and flatten a bit. Space out well.
Spread the nuts out in a shallow dish and dip one side of the rest of the balls into the nuts. Put these on another baking sheet, nut side up and space out well.
Bake at 190C/gas5 for 10-15 mins till a light golden colour. Leave to cool on sheet for about 10 mins then put on a wire rack.
Beat the 75g butter with the icing sugar and honey till nice and creamy.
Spread this over the plain cookies and put the nut one on top.
A nice treat to have with a cuppa; the honey buttercream has a lovely flavour.


Peanut butter cup bars

If you like Hershey's peanut butter cups, then these are for you. They aren't the healthiest of options, but as a treat they're very moreish. Great as a packed lunch surprise for no1 son, who's working long hours during the Olympics. - hope it will give him extra energy!
120g unsalted butter
175g icing sugar
260g smooth peanut butter
12 digestive biscuits made into crumbs
60g unsalted butter
90g chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

You don't need an oven to make these. Line a 20cm square cake tin with foil, leaving some hanging over the sides and butter the foil.

Melt the 120g butter in a saucepan over a low heat. When melted, take off the heat and add the icing sugar. Stir till smooth. Add the peanut butter and the crumbs and again stir till smooth.
Spread this mixture into the cake tin and smooth the top.
Melt the 60g of butter in the same saucepan and add the chocolate.Stir till it's nearly melted, then take off the heat and stir till it has completely melted. Pour this over the layer in the tin and smooth.
When cool, put into a fridge for at least 30 mins to set.
Use the overhanging foil to take it out of the tin. A pizza cutter is useful for cutting into 16 bars.
Keep in an airtight box in the fridge.

I like the texture of these bars, firm and with a great peanut butter taste, then the chocolate kicks in.


Great buys!

Thought I'd post my newest acquisitions from charity shops and a school fete. Have run out of shelf space, but am sure I'll find room for them somewhere.

I've wanted this book for ages as it's a classic of its time.  I know it's not the first edition, but it's a fair-sized tome and cost me £2 in a local charity shop, a bargain. Can't wait to try out some of the cakes! It's a good read for wet weather!

 This is my second find. I've been rewatching the series after SK, so to find the book for 75p in my local school fete was great. I've already marked several recipes to try. Watch this space!

My last find, again in a local charity shop [we have a lot of them in town] and it cost me £1. I recorded the series a while ago, when it was yet again repeated, on the Food Channel, I think. I love their style, especially Clarissa. They both are larger than life, as is some of their food!


Our favourite chocolate cake

Chocolate cake 'fashions' have come and gone over the last 30 odd years. There was the Black Forest gateau, the Sachertorte, truffle torte, lots of poor imitations of the River Cafe's gorgeous Nemesis cake to name but a few. I've tried most of these, but the recipe I come back to when the family want a chocolate cake is this one. I've been making it for a long time, but think it was originally a Delia recipe.
I like using oil in cakes, and this one is really moist and keeps well - a joke in this house! It's a good sized cake too, and it can be dressed up for an occasion with ganache or whatever you fancy. Today's version is unadorned except for a filling of Nutella and a smattering of icing sugar on the top.

275g plain flour
3 tbspn cocoa powder
11/2 tspn baking powder
11/2 tspn bicarb. of soda
215g caster sugar
3 tbspn golden syrup
3 eggs [large]
225ml sunflower oil [I use rapeseed]
225ml milk

2x 20cm sandwich tins [about 4cm deep], greased and lined

Preheat oven 160C/gas3

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb into a bowl and mix in the sugar. Make a well in the middle and add the rest of the ingredients.
Beat together well with a wooden spoon till nice and smooth.
Pour into the tins and bake for about 35 mins [ mine took 45 mins]. till well risen.
Remove from tins and take off lining paper. Cool on a wire rack.

You can then do what you like with them. As I've already said, I apread Nutella over one of them, put the other on top and sifted over some icing sugar. They'd risen quite a lot, so I cut the dome off one of the cakes to make it level so I could put the Nutella on it. Cook's perk to eat the slice cut off!

The cake isn't very sweet, considering how much sugar and syrup are in it and it has a good chocolate taste. It doesn't crumble when you try and eat it either. A good recipe to have in your repertoire.



I love the French macarons, buut I also like English macaroons. Think they both come from the same root - A macaroon  is a type of light, baked confection, described as either small cakes or meringue-like cookies depending on their consistency. The original macaroon was a "small sweet cake consisting largely of ground almonds"similar to Italian amaretti. [Wikipedia]

Had some almonds lurking at the back of the cupboard so this is a great recipe to use them. Haven't bothered with the rice paper you usually find on them.

Makes about 28

200g ground almonds

200g caster sugar

1/4 tsp finely ground cardamom

2 egg whites (from large eggs)

approx. 25g blanched almonds for the top of the macaroons.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC//gas 6 and line a baking sheet with baking parchment or preferably a silicone sheet.

Mix together the ground almonds, sugar, ground cardamom and egg whites, and knead with your hands or use the flat beater in a freestanding mixer until you have a  paste. This is a thick paste, so I think a mixer is best.

Form little balls, about the size of a small walnut, out of the  thick paste. As you put them on the lined baking sheet - about 3cm apart - squish them down slightly so that they are no longer balls but flattish. Put a blanched almond in the middle of each one and bake for 10-12 minutes till pale golden ; take them out of the oven and let them cool on a rack. When cooled, store in an airtight tin.

You can make them ahead, open-freeze on a tray for an hour, then fill plastic bags with them and keep them stored in the freezer. They probably don't need more than an hour to defrost at room temperature.

I brought the ground almonds back from a recent visit to Spain, and they seem much grainier than the ones I normally bake with. You can see this in the photo. A nice teatime treat - if you like almonds of course! The cardamom gives a hint in the background which I like. These are also nice if you add some cocoa to the mixture and leave out the cardamom.

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