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

Ingredients

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

Glaze

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

Method

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.

Glaze

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.

Orange Caramel Drunk Cake

I’m on a bit of a caramel buzz at the moment. It started last week when I made sticky buns with caramel sauce. As I was lavishly licking the left over caramel out of the pot I realised how much I really enjoyed its rich, buttery taste.

A fun fact about caramel – no one really knows how it got its name! In her piece ‘Comeback Caramel’ in  the food journal Gastronomica, Samira Kawash outlines:

As for the word caramel, the OED is uncharacteristically vague on the origins of the term. It is traced to France, but questions persist about its reference. Theoretical etymologies attach it to callamellus little tube or reed, or to cannamella, the Latin term for sugar cane, but these are only theories, and not very persuasive ones. OED concludes, somewhat tersely, “origin uncertain.”

The OED’s lexicographers do not mention a more promising (but likely apocryphal) derivation attributing the name to one Count Albufage Caramel of Nismes, France. Tantalizing references to Count Caramel appear (and disappear) in the 19th century, most famously in William Jeanes The Modern Confectioner (1861; also known as Gunter’s Modern Confectioner). The Count is credited with first describing the final stage of sugar boiling just before the sugar would begin to darken. Although Count Caramel sounds more like a character from Jim Henson’s workshop than a bona fide member of the French aristocracy, something in the account rings true.

On Saturday, I got an opportunity to make more caramel sauce. A work colleague of mine, Anika was hosting a pot luck dinner. I originally intended to make Stephanie Alexander’s Mediterranean orange cake but I forgot to put one its crucial ingredients (almond meal) on the supermarket list.

As an aside, forgetting things was a bit of a theme during the weekend. I managed to leave one half of my shoes in the work lobby (it fell out of my bag). Then on Saturday, when I was leaving to run errands I had to go back home four times because I had forgotten various items I needed. Sigh!

But anyway, back to my orange cake. Thankfully, The Cook’s Companion had another orange cake recipe which I had all the ingredients for. I’ve previously made this cake for a small gathering Analiese hosted once. It was a bit of a disaster. Previously, I had reduced the number of eggs from four to two thinking that it wouldn’t affect the final product too much. I was very wrong. The cake was very crumbly.

Like, crumbs everywhere

Worst of all, one of Analiese’s friends who she had invited, had been on a contestant on New Zealand’s Hottest Home Baker and I was paranoid that he might be silently judging my poor cake effort. I felt like having a small card to accompany the cake to explain why I had removed the egg (Analiese’s allergies) and hence the crumbliness of the cake.

This time when I made the cake, I used all four eggs and it turned out fine. It did crack on the top a bit which means I should have used less baking powder and lowered the temperature on the oven. Oh well.

Making the orange caramel sauce for the icing was my favourite part. I adapted the Joy of Cooking caramel sauce recipe. Instead of using water, I used orange juice and added some orange zest. It took a bit longer for it to boil but it turned out pretty good. The acidity of the oranges added a nice ‘cut through’ to the sweetness of the caramel. I drowned the cake in the sauce so it looked like a cake version of crème caramel.

I’ve called this recipe Orange and Caramel Drunk cake because I feel like the cake looks like it has over indulged on the sauce. Go home cake, you’re too drunk.

Orange and Caramel Drunk Cake

Adapted from Stephanie Alexander’s The Cook’s Companion

Ingredients

Cake batter

250g softened butter
1 ½ cups caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
100ml orange juice
Zest of 1 orange
250g self-raising flour

Orange Caramel Sauce

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
8 table spoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces1
½ cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt

Method

Cake batter

Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 22cm cake tin

Mix sugar and orange zest in a bowl. Add butter and cream the mixture. Add eggs and orange juice. Add flour and fold mixture together until the flour is incorporated. Be careful not to over mix. Spoon into tin and bake for 50 min. Cool in pan for 5 minutes then turn out onto wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Orange Caramel Sauce

Add orange zest, orange juice and sugar to a small saucepan. Slowly heat up and stir the sugar and water until all the sugar has been dissolved. Bring it up the boil, cover and leave to bubble for 2 minutes. Keep your eye on it or else it will burn! The mixture should become a lovely amber colour. Take it off the heat, add the butter and mix until it has been dissolved. Stir in cream and mix. If sauce is lumpy, place over low heat and mix until smooth. Add vanilla and salt. On a lined baking tray, pour caramel sauce so it covers most of the tray.

Cardamom, strawberry and vanilla bean bread and butter pudding

Yesterday at lunch I was pondering what my next blog post would be about. I’m not sure how it happened but I started thinking about a can of strawberries that I have at home in the pantry. I bought them as a back-up when I made strawberry and kiwifruit syrup last year for Christmas gifts. I bought this can because I was worried that I might not have bought enough frozen strawberries. I also had tight budget so I bought a cheap can as I didn’t want to buy an extra bag of strawberries.

Most of the time canned fruit is pretty ghastly. The fruit lacks a lot of taste, it’s often soaked in a ridiculous amount of sugar syrup and looks nothing like the fruit that it claims to be. The large cherry cans that are available are an exception to this because they taste delicious on pancakes and as a sauce for duck or chicken.

But canned fruit and vegetables can be a good option when you’re on a budget.

One of my favorite food bloggers at the moment is Jack Monroe. As a single mother on a benefit in Britain she struggled to put decent, nutritious food on the table for her and her son. While she was on the benefit she came up with tasty but cheap, affordable recipes and blogged about them. A lot of her recipes make use of canned fruit or vegetables as a way of saving money. I could talk a lot about her because she is an amazing woman who has done some brilliant work on anti-poverty campaigns in Britain but that’s saved for another blog post!

Back to the canned strawberries – inspired by Jack’s use of canned food – I wondered, could canned strawberries work in a baked dessert?

I still had a tiny bit of challah bread left over from my last bread making adventure so I thought bread and butter pudding might be the answer. Especially because this pudding is close to French toast as you soak the crusty bread in an eggy custard.

Strawberry bread and butter pudding sounded nice but I felt like it needed a bit more flavour. The traditional bread and butter pudding has nutmeg and cinnamon in it. It adds a spicy warmth to the dish. I wanted to do something a bit different though so I used crushed cardamom and a vanilla bean. Cardamom is an aromatic spice used in Indian and Nordic cooking. It’s one of the major flavours in chai tea so I was hoping to impart some of this flavour to the pudding – a chai tea inspired pudding if you will. The vanilla bean however, takes this recipe out of the budget zone, so feel free to use vanilla essence.

The result

The result was…interesting. The bread/cardamom/vanilla aspect was delicious, but the canned strawberry didn’t quite work. They were rather mediocre in the pudding as they had lost the kind of tang and sharp sweetness that fresh or frozen strawberries have. I would recommend replacing the strawberries with fresh or frozen one.

Strawberry, Vanilla and Cardamom Bread and Butter Puddings

Serves 2

Ingredients

A quarter of a loaf of crusty bread – challah works best

150 – 200g fresh or frozen strawberries

1 ½ cup cream

3 cardamom pods, crushed and ground

1 vanilla bean

2 eggs

25 g white sugar

2 teaspoons of brown sugar

Method

Cut up the challah bread into small 2cm pieces. If using fresh strawberries, hull these and cut them into quarters. Arrange bread and strawberries in the base of two ramekins.

Crush the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle. On a bread board, cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape all the seeds out with a flat knife. Add the crushed cardamom (minus the pods), vanilla bean seeds and the vanilla pod to a pot with the cream.

Heat cream, crushed cardamom pods and vanilla bean in a sauce pan until it is hot, but not boiling. While the cream is heating, beat the eggs and sugar until it is light and frothy.

Once the cream is just before boiling, strain it over the eggs (so you catch the pods and vanilla bean) and mix.

Pour cream and egg mixture over the bread and strawberries and leave to sit. You will find that you have too much cream and egg mixture at first, so wait for the bread to soak up the liquid and then keep pouring.

Sprinkle brown sugar over the top of each pudding.

Bake in a preheated 180 degrees oven for 20 mins or until the crust looks rich and golden.

Bacon is love you can eat

I’m ambivalent about Valentine’s Day. I don’t think there is any denying that it is an over commercialised Hall Mark day like Chrismas. Although I find Christmas considerably more  stressful!

But one thing I like about holidays is some of the traditions involved – making gifts at Christmas, hot cross buns at Christmas and roses on valentines. They’re a good opportunity to try out a new recipe, learn a complicated skill or give an unusual ingredient a go.

How do roses on Valentine’s day fit into this? Surely you just buy them from a florist? How can cooking fit with roses?

Ladies and Gentlement, I give you BACON roses!

I got up at 6am in the morning yesterday so I can make these for my boyfriend ( a known lover of bacon)

They are super easy to make, but a bit fiddly.

First, you need to buy some streaky bacon strips. Roll each strip up and place them on a muffin tray. Place them in a 180 degrees oven and cook for 30 – 40 minutes. Half way through take the bacon roses out of the oven and blot them on a dry paper towel.

You will also need to pour out the fat that has collected in the base of each muffin space. Do this again about 5 minutes before they are ready.

A lot of the instructions on the internet call for you to drill holes in the muffin tray but I think it’s a a waste of a perfectly good muffin tray. I would also recommend using a small muffin try as they keep the bacon nice and tightly curled.

For more fuller bacon roses, try rolling two strips of bacon together.

While you’re cooking the bacon, take some fake flowers and remove their heads so you’ve just got the stems and the bit where the flower used to sit. Once the roses are done, slide them onto the stems. Arrange your bacon roses in a nice vase or wrap them up like a bouquet.

Ta da!

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Sometimes a cigar is just…delicious

Today at work we had a bit of a competition. We’re currently in the process of re-launching our brand and product (a market research and brand positioning solution) and we had to incorporate some this into a dish. It’s a bit hard to explain without giving away too much, but the gist of it was that we needed to be quite creative.

A work colleague and I decided to team up and work together and we decided to go make these wonderfully indulgent blue cheese, honey and truffle oil cigars.

Blue cheese cigar

I’ve been dying to make these for ages ever since I received a copy of Simon Gault’s Nourish cookbook. These cigars are a retake on the classic after dinner cheese board or a bit of a re-imagining of the cigar and whiskey combo. The cigars are rich, pungent and impressive. The manuka honey provides a nice sweetness that offsets the sharpness of the blue cheese and the truffle oil adds a bit of nuttiness. night she came around and we made these wonderfully indulgent blue cheese, honey and truffle oil cigars.You only need to make one per person as they are quite full-on. 

The recipe for these cigars can be found here. I used Kapiti Kikorangi cheese instead of the cheese that Gault recommends. I also bought ready grated parmesean cheese as its much easier to divide up and weigh. You will also want to play around with the microwave timings. Gault recommends 30 – 40 seconds to melt the parmesan but we only needed 17 seconds.

We won the competition and in a moment of being a bit of fan girl I cheekily decided to tweet the picture and tag Gault in the tweet. I was quite delighted when he retweeted it to his followers. Amazing! Nice to have a bit of an endorsement from a professional.