Saturday, 1 February 2014

Korvapuusti - Finnish cinnamon buns

Bring on the weekend! I spent Friday as I usually do, hitting the gym after work, and then getting home, getting in my PJs and having dinner and resting my poor aching bones and muscles. Then I snuggled up in bed while waiting for the Culinary Consultant to finish pudding. And I fell asleep (well, it was close to midnight, so you can't blame me). Then I was served warm rhubarb crumble and custard in bed. I ate it while reading a book, and then went back to sleep. That is what I call a perfect start to the weekend. Today I have been very domestic, cleaning the house and cooking. And I had a very productive crafting session in the morning. I can't believe this is what my life has come to. Cooking, cleaning, crafting and sleeping. And I'm loving it! My friends go out to party, seeing movies and being social. I don't know when I turned 75, but clearly that happened sometime in the last year or so. But I'm not complaining. We go through phases in our life, and clearly I'm going through a very peaceful and domestic phase. Instead of worrying about it, I will enjoy it wile it lasts. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, so do whatever makes you happy right now!

Talking about what makes you happy, let's talk about cinnamon buns. But not just any cinnamon buns, Finnish cinnamon buns. I think I have posted a recipe for Finnish cinnamon buns before on the blog. But I'm not sure. When I was reading food blogs, I always laughed at blog authors who said they weren't sure whether they had posted a recipe or not. I thought how can you not remember what you have posted. Well, here I am, with less than two years of blogging behind me, about 150 blog posts, and I have no idea what I have blogged about in the past. So no wonder others who have been blogging for years and years cannot remember what they have posted. But the upside to all of this is, if I can't remember, I doubt anyone else can either. And to be honest, these buns are so incredibly good that I can't write enough about them anyways. So either for the first or second time, Korvapuusti, or Finnish cinnamon buns. I have taken the recipe from Kinuskikissa, the most popular Finnish baking blog, and I think the recipe for bun dough is the best I have ever used. I also used the instructions here from the same blog for the filling. 

Korvapuusti (Finnish Cinnamon Buns), makes about 36 buns:
500 ml milk (any level of fat, but I like whole milk the best)
15 g instant yeast
2 dl sugar (200 ml or 3/4 cup plus one tbsp)
1 1/2 tbsp ground cardamom
2 tsp salt (I usually use less, about 1 tsp)
1 egg + 1 egg for glazing
200 g butter, melted
about 15 dl (i.e. 1.5 litres or 6 and 1/4 cups)

For the filling:
150 g butter, room temperature
200 ml light muscovado sugar (3/4 cup plus one tbsp)

The howto: 
Mix the milk and the yeast. Add the sugar, cardamom, salt and egg. Add about 3/4 of the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon and later with your hands. Add the melted butter, mix more and add the rest of the flour. The dough is a bit more sticky than regular bread dough, but it should be possible to knead it without too much sticking. I usually use a dough scraper to help me. Knead for about 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover with cling film, let proof in a warm place (I like to place the bowl on top of the boiler) until doubled in size, about 1.5 hours. 

Take the dough out of the bowl and knock it back (knead gently to knock the air out of the dough). Divide into two halves and work one half at a time. On a lightly floured table, roll into a rectangle, the dough should not be too thick. The origin for this recipe suggested about 25x85 cm rectangle, I never measure mine, it's not that important I think. Except if you are on the Great British Bakeoff and are being judged on each bun being the same size. But my buns are all individuals, and celebrate their wonky appearance.

Spread half of the butter onto the dough. If it's too hard to spread, pop it into the microwave for a few seconds. Sprinkle half of the muscovado sugar on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Then roll into a tight roll (roll along the long side of the rectangle so that you get the longer possible roll). Divide roll into bun sized chunks, to me about 16 made a nice sized bun, it's not too big so you can eat at least two in one go. Do the same to the other half of the dough.
Shaping of the Korvapuusti is a personal decision every baker has to make on their own. You can cut straight down the log, giving you neat chunks. These can be placed on the baking sheet either with the cutting side up (this is the Swedish way of baking them), or in the same orientation they are when you cut them off the roll. But the traditional shape of a korvapuusti is to cut them at an angle as you can see in the picture below. They are then placed on the baking sheet with the wider part to the bottom (so every second piece needs to be flipped upside down compared to the orientation they are in when cut). Using your finger, press to make an indentation at the top along the length of the bun. This will allow the buns to spread when baking, giving them the traditional look of ears, which is where the buns get their name. Korvapuusti is the Finnish word for "slap around the ear".
Traditional korvapuusti are cut at an angle.
The cut pieces are placed on a baking sheet with 
the wide part facing down and an indentation
 is made on top to push the sides out and give 
the buns their ear shape when baking.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Let the buns rise on the baking sheet for another 10-15 minutes. Then brush with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. I don't know if you can get the pearl sugar outside Scandinavia, I always export some with me when I leave Finland. Pearl sugar is the only correct sugar to use on buns, but if you don't have access to it, regular sugar will do as well. Bake for 10-15 minutes. The buns should have a golden colour, but I like mine rather a teeny tad underbaked than overbaked.

The verdict:
My Grandma always says that "Children should have pulla (Finnish word for buns)" and I think cinnamon buns are the best. AndI might be a bit biased, but I think this is the best way to make Cinnamon buns. I love any bun, including the American ones with all the glazing and stuff, but the Finnish simple buns will always be the best. They are pretty and taste amazing. They are best eaten on the day of baking, I like them best while still warm, and just might or might not have eaten four of these babies almost as soon as they came out of the oven. If you eat them the next day, give them 20-30 seconds in the microwave and they will be perfect again. The buns freeze well, and can be frozen either before or after baking.

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