Tuesday, 12 November 2013


Me and my mate decided to experiment with our baking the other week and chose to make cinnamon sticky buns, which neither of us had made. Despite the name, I'm not a massive bread expert. They turned out brilliantly, we were both shocked, and then I thought I’d make my own (probably the first time I've ever tested an actual recipe before then trying to make it original). I don’t know why vanilla and hazelnut sprung to mind, but it did, and I'm glad it did. The combination is a winner, and the result is a sticky, almost caramelised outer bun giving way to a soft, sweetened bread held together by a vanilla filling and crunchy hazelnuts. I prefer these to the cinnamon ones.

400g strong white bread flour
40g light brown sugar
Pinch salt
1 ½ tsp fast action dried yeast
65g butter
1 egg (plus one egg yolk for glazing)
Around 200ml milk

For the filling
80g butter, room temperature
100g soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
75g hazelnuts, chopped

For the topping
6 tbsp icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp water 

Makes 9

Mix together all of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast (keeping these two separate) then rub in the butter until the mixture roughly resembles breadcrumbs. Make a well in the centre and crack in the egg. Slowly add the milk and stir until you get a sticky dough. Kneed for 10 minutes, or about 5 in a mixer with the dough hook attachment, until the dough is soft and springy. You need to be able to pull a little bit off, stretch it, hold it up to light and see your finger’s shadow through it, without it ripping.

Place into a lightly oiled bowl covered with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1½ hours. Its good to make these at this time of the year, because the radiator tends to be on.

In the meantime make the filling. Beat together the butter and sugar and loosen with the vanilla extract until you have a sweet paste. Grease and line a square brownie tin, about 20cmx20cm.

Once the dough has rise, knock the air out with your fist and kneed for about 30 seconds. With a rolling pin, begin to roll lengthways to form a long rectangle. You want it to be the thickness of a one pound coin, so keep at it, it can be a bit tricky as the dough often wants to spring back. Once you have an even-ish rectangle, spoon over the vanilla paste and spread all over, getting right to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts, evenly distributed. Now the filling is done, begin to roll. You want to do it from the lengthways, so you end up rolling the longest side into a really long sausage and try to keep it as tight as possible. Once you have the roll, chop it into 9 equal sized swirls and place each into the tin, evenly spaced in rows of 3, with the swirl facing upwards. Cover with a damp cloth again and leave to rise for about another hour.

Heat the oven to fan180/200c/6. Once risen, brush the tops of the buns with the egg yolk and bake for 10 minutes in the top of the oven before dropping down to the bottom and reducing the heat to fan160/180c/5 and baking for a further 15 minutes.

Once baked, allow to cool in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack. To finish, mix the icing sugar, vanilla and water until you have a thick icing and drizzle randomly over the top. I like to do this while the buns are still a little bit warm, and eat one straight away. 

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