Golden Syrup and Brown Sugar Cinnamon Sticky Buns

I know I’ve already posted about sticky buns before, but they are one of my favourite recipes and they are especially delicious to eat on a cold winter’s day with a hot drink.

The sticky buns that my family usually make have a toffee and walnut base, but lately, I’ve been experimenting with different sticky elements. Last time I used a caramel sauce and this time I decided to give golden syrup a go. Both were equally delicious. A+ would recommend.

One thing to I will remember for next time is to increase the stickiness element. Sticky buns, of course, need to be sticky. It really does means you have to be generous with the sticky element even though it increases the likelihood of sticky hands and really sticky cake tins.

Bake these in a cake tin to get a pretty design when you pull them out of the oven and flip upside down.


Golden Syrup and Brown Sugar Cinnamon Sticky Buns


Yeasted coffee cake dough

1 package active dry yeast
¼ cup warm water
½ cup flour (cake flour if possible)
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour (bread flour if possible)
65g butter, cut into chunks and left to soften


¼ cup golden syrup
¼ cup butter, melted
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Yeasted coffee cake dough

Mix yeast and warm water together and leave for 5 minutes until dissolved. Add cake flour, sugar, salt, eggs, milk and vanilla and mix until smooth. Add bread flour and mix for one minute until dough comes together. Tip onto a floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and elastic. At this point add the butter.

I found the easiest way to do this is to stretch the dough out and add around ¼ of the butter you have and then fold the dough in half and stretch it out again. Add another ¼ of the butter and repeat. The dough will be very sticky and you’ll feel like it’s not working, but you need to persist! Keep kneading it and the butter will eventually incorporate itself into the dough.

Shape into a ball and place in a buttered bowl. Keep dough in warm place for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.

If you want to make really flavoursome dough, Joy recommends you leave it for 1 ½ hours, punch it down after that and then let rise again for 4 – 12 hours. Punch it down again and then refrigerate for 30 minutes.


Once your dough is ready, roll it out onto a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Mix cinnamon, brown sugar and butter together and brush over dough. Carefully roll the dough as if you were making a chocolate log. Cut crosswise into 6 – 8 slices.

Grease a cake tin. At the bottom, carefully pour the golden syrup so it lines the base. Place buns on top of golden syrup and pack them in carefully so they fill the tin completely. Place in a 180° preheated oven and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Invert the pan onto a hot sheet or plate. Serve warm or at room temperature.


New project: editing the family cook book

Just another family dinnerEvery second Sunday since I have been on this earth (barring illness, travel and other engagements) my extended family get together for dinner. We eat delicious food, drink a bit of wine and catch up. We’ll celebrate each other’s achievements but also provide support in times of sadness. And we always have lots of laughs.

I always look forward to family dinners as the food is always delicious. It’s usually very rich and we always will have more than enough. There is a joke in our family that none of us are able to correctly estimate how much food to make, so we will always double the quantity, forgetting that everyone else is doing the same thing.

We’ve often talked about putting together a family cook book with a selection of our favourite recipes. My personal favourites are Grandpa’s tomato sauce, my mum’s jambalaya bread and butter pudding with bourbon whiskey sauce and the range of tarts and pies that my Grandma makes. As part of this, we would also include some history about the recipe and why we like it.

I’ve decided that this year (and probably next) will be the year in which we get this project underway.

One of the reasons why I’m interested in this idea is I think it’s a really distinctive way in which family history can be recorded. It’s a well-known fact that sensory experiences can trigger memories much more effectively than trying to directly remember past events and people. I believe that by writing through the lens of food and cooking, you can get a much richer insight into your family history and gain a better understand of the character and personality of your ancestors. It is also a valuable way of capturing the spirit and atmosphere of family occasions – bringing to life the dynamics of family life.

I’ve made an initial start on the project by beginning the process of sourcing the recipes. My next step is to start interviewing everyone and sourcing further recipes. I’m very excited about this project! I hope to share the process with you.

Grandpa’s Tomato Sauce

This is a very special recipe for tomato sauce. It’s a wickedly spicy and tangy tomato sauce, seasoned with allspice, cloves and cayenne pepper and it knocks store bought ketchup out of the park.

It’s also a tomato sauce that has a lot of history for me.

This is a sauce that has been made in my family for at least four generations and the recipe haven’t changed that much. It can be traced as far back as my great great grandmother Louisa Annie Robinson who taught it to my great grandmother Bernice. On a slightly unrelated note, Louisa is where my middle name comes from.

According to my grandmother, Grandpa learnt how to make this sauce from her mother (my great grandmother) around the time that my grandma was pregnant. She was suffering from a bit of morning sickness and thought that the idea of Grandpa doing all the preserving was a “most excellent idea.”

I remember first trying this tomato sauce at our regular fortnightly family dinners at my grandparent’s place. My grandfather did a lot of preserving and this is a tomato sauce that he would make once a year, usually around the end of January. My aunt Deborah, my grandma and I have now taken over this process as my grandpa is no longer able to.

Making the sauce is a two day process, but it could theoretically be completed in one day if you are able to dedicate an entire day to it. The best thing about this recipe is there is no peeling involved – you don’t have to spend time skinning tomatoes or peeling the skin off apples. Instead, you chop up all the fruit and vegetables and once you’ve cook them all with the other spices, sugar and vinegar and the mixture is cooled, you put it through a mouli. A mouli helps separate the skin from the apples and tomatoes and purees everything into a lovely thick sauce.

Every time we make this, something always go a little awry. The first time I managed to start a small fire on my grandma’s stove element. The second time we seemed to have far too much balsamic vinegar so we had to use a soup ladle to spoon out about a litres worth. And last time, we were cooking on a new stove and it took forever for one of the pots to heat up. Despite this though, everything does seem to always work out in the end.

Spicy Tomato Sauce


4kg tomatoes – use a variety if possible
1 kg apples, cored but not peeled
1 kg onions
110g salt
110g allspice (whole)
10g cayenne pepper (use less if using ground cayenne pepper)
50g black peppercorns
1kg brown sugar
1L balsamic vinegar


Slice all fruit and vegetables. Tie spices in beg and tie with string. You can use the bag twice for more sauce. Add fruit, vegetables and spice bag to large pot and boil and then simmer all together for two hours. The recipe recommends to cook ‘full’ for half and our and then medium for the next half an our and then simmer for the last half an hour.

When cooked, let cool and then process through a mouli. When ready to bottle, heat up on stove again and pour into steralised bottles.

Suggested modifications

There are lots of modifications you can make to this recipe

Tomatoes – if you are using very ripe tomatoes I would recommend reducing the sugar in this recipe. Ripe tomatoes will already have a lot of natural sugars and will add to the sweetness of this sauce. One of the wonderful things about this sauce is that it isn’t as sweet as store bought stuff, so keep this in mind when choosing tomatoes. Green tomatoes can also be used. The same principle would apply here – because they are very tart, and have less fruit sugar you will need to adjust the sugar quantities accordingly.

Vinegar – when I first made this recipe, we used malt vinegar.  We now we use balsamic vinegar as it has a more complex, rich flavour. You could also use cider vinegar as well which would also add to the tanginess of the sauce.

Sugar – the original recipe doesn’t specify what type of sugar to use, so we use brown sugar. It adds a stronger flavour to the sauce because of the molasses in it.

Suggested recipes

BBQ Ribs – this can be used as the ketch up in this piquant barbeque sauce that is from the Joy of Cooking. Use it with pork spare ribs.

Chick pea curry – I use this sauce as the ketchup for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s chickpea ketchup curry.  It really compliments the Indian spices and is such an easy weeknight dinner.

Lamb Shanks – use this sauce as a marinade for Lamb Shanks.

A busy Auckland Anniversary Weekend