Is there anything better than freshly baked cinnamon rolls? The warm scent of cinnamon comforting you like a big woolly blanket. The gentle cracking sound of bread being taken apart, giving way to a column of hot white steam. Embellishing the beauties with delicate rings of icing. No, when it comes to rolls, cinnamon is the queen.
As a Dane in Scotland, I’m lucky to be able to still enjoy most of my favourite comforts from home, such as rye bread (which I could not live without). Recently I was thrilled to discover in Sainsbury’s a product by the name of ‘Danish cinnamon roll’. Jumping for joy, I took it home with me, only to be gravely disappointed. It seems that, in the UK, whenever the word ‘Danish’ comes into baking, it means the pastry is of the sweet, buttery type, what you call ‘Danish pastry’. However, Danish baking is much more than ‘Danish pastry’, in spite of its fame. In fact, I’m not at all a fan of the sickeningly sweet pastries which, comically, in Denmark go by the name of ‘Vienna bread’.
A proper Danish cinnamon roll is made with a buttery, slightly spiced yeast-dough. This makes for a tasty but light roll which is perfectly balanced against the sweetness of the cinnamon filling. Combining ‘Danish pastry’ with a filling of more sugar and more butter, on the other hand, is perfectly disastrous.
In other words, if you want the real Danish experience, I recommend you give this recipe a go –unlike many others, this recipe actually does the great Dane justice.
Makes 35-40 rolls:
100 g butter
0,9 pints full-fat milk (=nearly one pint)
50 g fresh yeast or the equivalent amount of dried yeast
½ cup of granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
800 g plain white flour
For the cinnamon filling:
150 g butter, at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 egg for brushing
for the icing:
4 tablespoons icing sugar
½ teaspoon water
1. Put the milk and chunks of butter in a large, microwaveable bowl, and heat until the butter has melted and the milk is tepid. Crumble the yeast into the milk and stir to make it dissolve completely. Add salt and sugar and stir again.
2. Add cardamom and flour and knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, mix the ingredients for the filling (an electrical whisk is recommended for this job).
4. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees celsius. When the dough has risen, divide it into two balls and roll out each lump to a rectangle of 8 x 12 inches. Apply the filling to the whole surface. Depending on the temperature of your butter, the filling could be more or less spreadable. I find that working the filling with your fingers is the easiest way to ensure a nice even spreading.
5. Now roll the dough tightly from the long side and cut each roll into 15-20 pieces.
6. Arrange on a roasting pan with baking parchment, tucking the loose ‘flap’ under each cinnamon roll. Brush rolls with a whipped egg and bake for 6-8 minutes, until they are risen and brown, and the cinnamon filling starts to caramelize.
7. Serve with a drizzle of icing.