For me there is almost nothing better than a quiet Sunday morning with a cup of espresso and a yeast based treat. These things are magical and great pick me ups for morning grouches like me. Yeasted pastries and sweet breads are a cosy and comforting way to celebrate a holiday as well. In Germany they are an essential part of Easter. Here you can find all kinds of stuffed or plain yeast braids or bunny shaped rolls and even yeast based easter baskets with a boiled egg in the middle. For many people the soft and sweet dough is a perfect comfort food and for others yeasted baked goods are just much easier to make than a large cream or frosting based cake. Well, if you are one of those people who say that baking with yeast is complicated, get over it. It really just does take some practice and I promise you will get the hang of it. Just start. My first rolls looked and tasted like cobblestones and now look at this.
In Germany cinnamon buns are not very common. We like to stuff our rolls and buns with poppy seeds, pudding, or nuts instead. This diversity and a couple of small tins of chestnut spread in our pantry made my mind wander to a chestnut and cinnamon filling for these little Easter treats. Since chestnut spread is mostly sugar, it does caramelise very nicely during baking and also makes for a wonderfully sticky filling. The most widely available chestnut spread is Faugier brand Crème de Marrons, which I used. (Okay, I bought it in France but I can get it at a department store in my town, too.) But you can also make your own, there are a couple of recipes online. For a simple alternative use a regular cinnamon bun filling and leave out the chestnut spread. (Another idea is to substitute apple butter.) If you look at the preparation method for this recipe you will find that I have already included such a filling. So technically these could be called “double stuffed”. All this folding might look complicated to you, but it will improve the texture and make the buns a bit flakier. Of course you can skip that step and sprinkle the sugar and spice mixture right on top of the chestnut spread. Lots of variation possible here, so you can make the recipe work for you.
Cinnamon Buns with a Chestnut Swirl
- For the dough
- 250 g 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 50 g 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 60 ml 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 150 ml 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons luke warm water
- For the filling
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
- 200 g 7 oz chestnut spread
- To make the dough combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix well.
- Add oil and water.
- Knead dough well for about 5-7 minutes.
- Cover and let rest for 1 hour.
- Place on a lightly floured working surface and knead for one minute or so.
- Roll into a 40 x 30 cm (15.7 x 11.8 inches) rectangle.
- Combine sugar and spices and sprinkle on top of the dough.
- Fold the dough as if you wanted to fit it into an envelope: Fold the short side over so that you have a rectangle half the size but still the same shape. Then fold it over again to quarter the size.
- Roll the dough into a 40 x 30 cm (15.7 x 11.8 inches) rectangle again.
- Spread the chestnut spread on top and roll the dough into a log, starting with the long side.
- Grease a 12 tin muffin pan and preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). (I used a square tin pan but a regular one with round indentions works just as well.)
- Cut the dough into 12 equally sized rolls and place them in the tins. Cover with a greased piece of plastic or with a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from oven, let rest for five minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely before serving. (If they are still a touch warm that is okay, too.)