Monday, 13 December 2010

Bright breakfasts on dark days

Let's face it, on cold winter mornings everyone needs a little encouragement to get out from under the covers. If someone turns the heating on, that helps. If an angel makes tea and brings it to you, that's good. But seriously, on the coldest, darkest day of the year? You are going to need something special. The professionals at cold and darkness, our friends in the North, the Scandinavians, argue that a candlelit procession to breakfast, with sweet cakes and hot coffee is the way to go. It is not a bad idea. So, to begin St. Lucy's Day - Cinnamon Buns, hot milky coffee and candles.

You need:

Bun Mixture: 650 - 700g Plain Flour
5 - 7g Dried Yeast
240ml Milk
75g Unsalted butter
65g White Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Salt
3 Eggs

Bun Filling:  160g Light Brown Sugar
35g Plain Flour
1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
115g Unsalted Butter (in cubes)
A couple of handfuls of raisins
A generous large tablespoon of Light Cream (single)

Bun Topping:

Mix together 60g Icing Sugar with a tablespoon and a bit of light single cream to make a good drizzling consistency.


In a large mixing bowl mix together approximately half the flour with the dried yeast. Then, in a small saucepan heat the milk. butter, sugar and salt. Stir this mixture constantly with a clean wooden spoon. As soon as the butter is melted, gradually add the liquid to the flour and yeast, binding in each addition slowly. Add the three eggs one at a time, again binding in each addition slowly. Scape all the mixture down into the bowl and combine well. Now, add the remaining flour little by little until you have a soft, smooth, elastic dough - you might not need it all. Knead your dough for 3 - 5 minutes. Place your dough on a clean work surface for a second whilst you wash, dry and grease your bowl. Return your dough to the greased bowl, turning it once to ensure there is a little grease on all sides - it stops it sticking, then cover with clingfilm and place in a warm place to rise for 1 - 11/2 hours. When the dough has doubled in size punch it down (this is fun). Place it on a lightly floured surface and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in your bowl, place the dry bun filling ingredients, except the raisins. Mix them round. Cut the mixture through with the cubes of butter. You might want to use your hands in the end. It should be all crumbly when you are done.

Roll the dough into a 30cm square. You know how big this is. You used to have a ruler that size in your school pencil case. Sprinkle with the bun filling and top with raisins. I put loads in, you can choose. Carefully roll the dough into a log shape, and pinch seal it at either end to stop the raisins escaping. Slice the roll into eight even pieces and arrange them on a greased baking tray (with gaps!). Cover loosely with clingfilm (they are going to rise).

NB. At this point you can place to dough into the fridge for anything up to 24 hours. I have not been up all night to get ready for the dawn party. I am not completely cracked. Just remember that you need to take them out of the cool to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before you bake them. If you are going to work through the night however, and you do not want to cool the dough, leave it in a warm place to rise for about 45 minutes to an hour before you get them in the oven.

When you are ready to bake have a quick look at the dough. Burst any air bubbles you can see. You do not want an explosion in the oven. Brush the buns with single cream. Bake at 190C for about 25 - 30 mins until light brown. You might want to cover them for the last bit to prevent them burning. To test to see if your buns are cooked, turn them over and tap them on the bottom, they should sound hollow.

Remove them from the oven and brush again with single cream. Drizzle with the icing sugar topping. Eat.

Strong Milky Coffee

Make very strong fresh coffee. Heat some milk in a pan. Mix half a cup of the very strong coffee with half a cup of warm milk. Add sugar. Yum.

Candles - Get nice ones, white ones, light them.

Happy Feast of St. Lucy.

PS. Those of you mad enough to be getting up for the candlelit Rorate Mass at 7am this Saturday morning - this makes a good post- celebration recovery aid. Okay?

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