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.


Apple and Caramel Sticky Buns

There is something a bit naughty about sticky buns. Made out of rich, buttery dough stuffed with a toffee and brown sugar glaze and then baked on a sticky bed of caramel or rich toffee, they are quite a treat.

It’s not just the ingredients either that invite a sense of playfulness. The name ‘sticky buns’ sounds like a remark that you would use to describe a small child who has smeared chocolate sauce all over their face and their bedroom wall and who looks rather pleased with themselves.

These sticky buns came out of an idea I had for this blog. My blog is largely about challenging myself to be a better cook – that’s where the bread challenge comes in. Another area of cooking that I would like to develop my skills is the ability to be more resourceful with ingredients.

To do this, Joe and I have started a small challenge. Every fortnight, Joe will choose a ‘mystery’ ingredient as part of the supermarket run which I will then have to create a recipe staring this mystery item.

This week, Joe bought home a small jar of apple sauce which is a puree of apples flavoured with sugar or honey and spiced with cinnamon. It has a variety of uses – apple sauce cake, a condiment for roast pork or in some cases, as a substitute for butter or oil in baking.

I came up with this idea of apple and caramel sticky buns late at night when I was lying in bed trying to get to sleep. I was so excited I jumped out of bed and rushed into our living room to excitedly tell Joe about how delicious these buns would be.

They are inspired by some apple and caramel pancakes I had during a Wairarapa weekend  as well as the Joy of Cooking sticky bun recipe that I have adapted for this occasion.

Recipe on next page

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.

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


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


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.