10 November 2020
NOVEMBER BLOG

If there was ever a time we needed comfort food (and I’m not talking about the weather, as I’m sure you can imagine), it’s now. And there are few things to eat more comforting than warm cinnamon buns: I don’t mean the type that are more like cinnamon flavoured cakes or Danish Pastries, but the proper, bready, crunchy-topped American-style buns or rolls. I’ve wanted for a long time to create a mix for these that would be simple to use and work properly, and at last it’s happened. With my friends at the company who have produced mixes for me for many happy years, and after loads of trial and error and experimenting with different recipes and methods, we’ve come up with a terrific mix.

A proper cinnamon bun has to be made with yeast, and I know that many people are a bit nervous of what that entails. The whole concept of kneading and proving and rising and so on can sound daunting, but baking with yeast is actually one of those things that is not only very easy and fool-proof, but also very enjoyable and satisfying to do. And, of course, if you use a mix like this, the yeast is already added in the perfect quantity.

But to reassure those of you who might consider giving the cinnamon bun mix a go but are unfamiliar with bread making of any kind, I thought this month it might be worth using my normal recipe pages to give a bit more detail about how to use the mix than I could fit on the packet – and also take some photos as I made it as I always do with my monthly recipe.

I love to eat the buns warm from the oven, just as they are or spread with a little butter: perfect for a late, lazy Sunday breakfast. And I’m certainly not suggesting you should get up early to give the buns time to rise and bake – there’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t make the buns up to the stage when you put them in the tin, leave them to rise slowly overnight in the fridge and then just pop them in the oven in the morning. In America they often drizzle them with icing: if you fancy that, then let the buns get cold, mix some icing sugar with a tiny amount of water and drizzle it over the buns before tearing them apart.

The mix should be in your local Home Bargains store by now, and I’d love to hear how you get on with making them and if you think they’re as delicious as I do.

Meanwhile, I’ve tried to avoid mentioning the lockdown, as I know you’ll be as depressed about the current situation as I am, but as ever I wish you and your loved ones good health and as much peace and happiness as is possible while we wait for things to get better.

Love Jane

Cinnamon Buns

This is the method given on the packet of Cinnamon Bun Mix but with my comments in the Tips boxes (hopefully helpful) added. Please don’t look at this and think it looks frighteningly long and complicated – it’s the opposite – easy and fun. But I’ve done this just to answer any questions you might have and to make it as fool-proof as I can.

Ingredients

  • 1 packet Jane Asher Cinnamon Bun Mix
  • 100g softened (or spreadable) butter
  • 120ml milk
  • 2 medium eggs
TIP!
I’ve tested the mix with both ‘normal’ and softened butter (which is usually just butter with a little vegetable oil added to stop it going rock hard in the fridge), and it works just as well with either. As I nearly always forget to take the butter out of the fridge well ahead of baking I do quite often use spreadable. And I know in theory you should use unsalted butter for most baking, as recipes very often include a pinch of salt I tend to use salted and just leave out that extra pinch. Our mixes contain very little salt, so either will be fine, unless of course you’re on an especially low-salt diet.
TIP!
The second egg is just for brushing over the top of the buns before baking. It not only helps the cinnamon sugar to stick but also makes for a lovely, crunchy top. But it doesn’t really take a whole egg, so you could either save the rest for brushing over pastry or something later, or use a little milk instead – but the latter won’t give such a good crunch.

Method

Put 75g of the soft butter into a mixing bowl and gradually add the sachet of bun mix, blending it in by using the back of a wooden spoon until it looks like breadcrumbs.

Add the milk and 1 egg.

TIP!
I measure the milk in a jug and break the egg into it and whisk a bit before pouring it into the bowl.

Stir until the mix comes together into a rough, sticky dough.

TIP!
Yes, it will be sticky and you may worry that it will never come together, but it will!

Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 8-10 minutes, adding a little extra flour as necessary, until it forms a smooth, elastic dough.

TIP!
You’ll find you need to flour your hands a bit as you start, but the dough really will quite quickly lose its stickiness and become smooth and springy. 8-10 minutes may feel like a very long time, but kneading is fun and easy and a chance to do something relatively mindless with your hands and think about other things…

Cover lightly with cling film or a tea towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

TIP!
Unlike with bread, you don’t need to oil the bowl or the cling film you cover it with – the dough by this time isn’t sticky and will be fine.

Meanwhile, lightly oil an 8”-9” (20-22cm) round tin (or two smaller ones) and line the base with baking paper.

TIP!
Lining with baking paper and oiling the tin is important, or the buns won’t come out of the tin without tearing.

Roll out the dough on the floured work surface to a rectangle approx. 30cm x 20cm.

TIP!
I think the easiest way is to roll the dough with your hands into a sausage shape before you start with the rolling pin, or else the shape tends to be narrower at the top and bottom than in the middle.

Spread the remaining 25g butter over the dough (yes, still the spreadable – it’s fine for this) and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar, saving a couple of teaspoonfuls for later.

Roll up the long side of the dough like a Swiss Roll, and slice evenly into 8 pieces.

TIP!
Don’t be tempted to roll the short side by mistake! The buns would have an attractive amount of swirl going on but would be very thin and shallow! And it’s easy to slice it into 8 – just halve it, then halve the pieces again into 4 and once again into 8.

Arrange the slices in the baking tin, spacing them out evenly as necessary (they will expand in the oven).

TIP!
They’ll also expand quite a lot while they ‘prove’ as it’s called – that’s just this next 45 minutes in a warm place.

Cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes.

TIP!
Don’t worry if you don’t have anywhere warm: just give them a bit longer to rise – they should have expanded quite a bit. Or, if you want to make them for breakfast the next morning, put them in the fridge instead and they will happily rise slowly overnight. Then bake straight from the fridge in the morning, giving them a few minutes longer to make sure they are fully baked and crunchy.

Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/Gas Mark 4. Brush the rolls with the second egg, lightly beaten, then sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon sugar.

Bake for around 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown.

Leave for a couple of minutes in the tin and either eat warm or place on a rack to cool completely.

TIP!
Don’t try to separate them too soon or they will break.