Orange and Cinnamon Honey Buns
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    Makes 9 buns
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There is something soothing and homely about the smell of freshly baked bread, cakes and buns. Baking on a cold and rainy winter’s day is not only pleasurable but somehow makes bleak days that much more tolerable. These orange and cinnamon honey buns are perfect for a lazy weekend brunch or afternoon sweet treat, served slightly warm with a pot of freshly brewed tea.

When developing my recipes, it’s important that I cook food I love and create recipes that are not only memorable but have purpose and meaning. It took me some time to finally devise a recipe for these buns that I was completely happy with. I set out to create a bun that is not only delicious but one that is also light and fluffy. The addition of suet to the dough gives this recipe the lightness and flakiness I was of Orange and Cinnamon Honey Bunsphoto of Orange and Cinnamon Honey Bunsphoto of Orange and Cinnamon Honey Bunsphoto of Orange and Cinnamon Honey Bunsphoto of Orange and Cinnamon Honey Buns

Ingredients & Method

For the dough

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 350ml milk
  • 525g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 30g fresh yeast
  • 150g vegetable suet
  • a pinch of table salt
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg

For the orange, sultana and cinnamon filling

  • 100g golden sultanas (or use regular sultanas, if you wish)
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g dark muscovado sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • finely grated zest of 2 oranges (use the fruit for the glaze – see below)

For the orange honey glaze

  • 4 oranges, peeled and divided into segments (use the 2 oranges leftover from the filling above, plus 2 more)
  • 200ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 50g clear orange blossom honey
  • ground cinnamon, for dusting (optional)

Make the dough. Melt the butter in a small saucepan and then turn the heat off. Add the milk to the pan, then set aside briefly to let the milk warm through to 37°C (blood temperature).

In a food processor, process half of the flour, the yeast and the suet together until the suet is completely broken down and is as fine as the flour. Transfer the flour, yeast and suet mixture to the bowl of an electric stand mixer (see Cook’s Note), add the rest of the flour, the salt and caster sugar, attach the dough hook and turn the mixer on to run at a slow speed. Add the warm milk and butter mixture and mix to form a dough, then add the egg and knead the dough for 6 minutes. The dough will be very soft and you might think it’s a little too wet, but it’s perfectly fine – do not add extra flour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and shape it into a ball with a smooth top. Place the dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean dry tea towel or cling film and leave the dough to rise in a warm place until it is doubled in size. My dough takes about 1½ hours to rise on a cold rainy day – if you have the central heating on or have an Aga in your kitchen, it will take less time.

While the dough is rising, make the filling. Put the golden sultanas in a bowl, cover with boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and gently squeeze the sultanas to remove the excess water, then set aside. Cream the butter, muscovado sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Set aside until needed.

Once the dough is ready, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly, then use your fingers to press and spread the dough evenly into a rectangular shape (about 40–45 x 30–35cm in size). You could use a rolling pin to do this if you like, but I don’t like using one as it compresses the dough which means it loses its lightness and puffiness.

Spread the cinnamon butter filling evenly over the dough rectangle, then scatter the soaked sultanas over the top, followed by the orange zest. Roll the dough up like a Swiss roll, starting from a long edge, then dip a serrated knife into flour and cut the roll into 9 even slices. Place the buns, cut-side up, into a greased and lined 33 x 26 x 4.5cm roasting tin or deep cake tin, placing them close together (alternatively, place the buns close together on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper). Lightly cover with a clean dry tea towel and leave to rise again (prove) in a warm place for 20–30 minutes or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

Bake the buns in the oven for about 30 minutes or until well risen and deep golden brown (if the buns start to turn dark brown before the end of the cooking time, place a piece of foil over the top to prevent them from turning too dark).

While the buns are baking, make the orange honey glaze. Put the orange segments, orange juice, caster sugar and honey into a blender and blend to form a smooth purée. Sieve the purée into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer, then continue to cook over a low heat for 7–8 minutes or until the mixture is reduced by half. The glaze will become shiny and sticky, but do not reduce it too far as it should still be of a pouring consistency.

Remove the baked buns from the oven and let them cool for 10 minutes in the tin (or on the baking tray). Use a knife to separate the buns slightly. Pour some of the hot glaze evenly over the buns, then let the glaze soak in briefly before pouring over the remaining glaze. Leave the buns to cool completely in the tin (or on the baking tray) before removing and serving them. Just before serving, dust the top of the buns with a little ground cinnamon, if you like.

Cook’s Note

To make the dough by hand, put the processed flour, yeast and suet mixture into a large bowl, then add the rest of the flour with the salt and sugar and mix. Make a well in the centre, then pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, add the egg and mix with a palette knife to form a lumpy dough. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 7–8 minutes or until the dough becomes silky smooth and elastic. Continue as the recipe directs.