THE BEST Cinnamon Rolls

This recipe is Scandinavian with spicier approach. I swear it is the best recipe for Cinnamon rolls, and so far it has been a secret one…. But I’ve decided to finally share it and spread some cinnamon love… Hope you enjoy!

You’ll need:

0,5 l warm milk/water/coconut milk or other equivalent

1 egg (plus another one for glazing, optional)

2 (total 14g) sachets of dried yeast or 50g of fresh yeast

200g caster sugar

15g (tablespoon) salt

15g ground cardamom

pinch of vanilla

150g soft butter/oil, plus a bit extra

1kg-1,2kg strong flour or equivalent

cinnamon and sugar for sprinkling, plus almond flakes (optional)

Mix all your ingredients, apart from the flour and butter, together. Add 90% of the flour and start kneading. After a couple of minutes add the butter and remaining flour. Keep kneading for 10 minutes adding small bit of flour if the dough is too sticky, but avoid making it too hard.

Leave to rest under a clean tea towel or cling film for 20 mins to reduce the elasticity.

Roll the dough into a rectangle shape about 30 cm wide and 3cm thick. Length doesn’t matter, it only determines how many buns you’ll be able to cut once it is rolled up. (You can divide the dough into two equal sizes before rolling it, to make it easier to manage) Spread your extra soft butter/oil on the rolled out dough, sprinkle evenly the extra sugar and ground cinnamon. Start rolling up the dough width ways, making it nice and tight/compact. Cut into about 5cm long pieces. Turn them on their side and press down gently.

Place on the baking tray to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size, under a clean tea towel or a cling film. Once risen glaze gently with a beaten egg with a pastry brush, sprinkle with flaked almond and sugar. Bake in 225 degrees Celsius for about 15 mins or until nice golden brown colour.

Enjoy with a glass of milk or hot chocolate! Mm…

(Cinnamon rolls don’t stay fresh for very long, but they freeze really well, as long as you do it straight away once cooled down. I thaw them by popping them in to hot oven for a few minutes, this way they are like freshly baked again!)



Pizza, please!


Whenever I ask my kids what they want for dinner, the answer is always the same: Pizza! I find it to be a great dish to make when there’s very little ingredients in the cupboards. It’s easy to create something quite amazing with very little effort.

You’ll need:

half a quantity of basic bread dough (check out the recipe in the bread category)

tomato sauce


your favourite topping

Start by making your dough. I divide the master recipe into half and use semolina or polenta with the flour. I also add a tablespoon of olive oil into the mix after about 4mins of kneading, this will create lovely air pockets in the pizza base when baking, plus it’ll give it more flavour. From this quantity of dough I’d make four round pizzas. I like mine thin, but it’s entirely up to you how many pizzas or how thick you make them. After dividing the the dough into equal size pieces, shape them into balls and leave to rest for half an hour under a clean cloth. (Remember to sprinkle flour underneath and small bit on the top, so they won’t stick, also leave enough space in between)

At this stage I turn on the oven. The ideal temperature for pizza is 300 degrees celsius, so the closer you can get to that, the better. My lovely oven only manages just over 220 celsius, which will do the the trick also, just not as well.. If you have a pizza stone, throw it in the oven now, so there will be enough time for it to get nice and hot. These stones are great, as they help cook the base quick and giving the pizza base a lighter, crispier texture when done.

To make the tomato sauce, I use either fresh or tinned plum tomatoes. I put the tomatoes in the saucepan along with garlic, basil and bit of seasoning (sea salt and ground mixed pepper) Let it bubble for a few minutes to release all the juices and bring all the  flavours together. Then whizz it in the food processor, or pulse, into smooth sauce. Sometimes I drain it through a sieve to discard skin bits and seeds, but sometimes I don’t.. It really depends on how much time and energy I’ve got!

Once the dough has rested I shape them into flat pizza bases either by using the rolling pin, or just stretching them by hand. I find that if I use just hands, the base will be bubblier and lighter once cooked, but either way is fine and end result will be fab! Once the oven has reached the temperature I take the pizza stone out of the oven and place the base on it. Spread some tomato sauce over it and throw the cheese on. I usually use mix of grated mozzarella and parmesan, but any hard cheese will do. If I use fresh soft mozzarella, I’d only put it on after the pizza is cooked, because I find that otherwise it makes the pizza a bit soggy. Bake the pizza for 4-10mins, depending on how hot your oven is. Basically, it’s the golden brown look you’re after.

In our house the pizza gets the centre stage, so I place it on the middle of the table, on the heavy timber chopping board my dad made me, and let everyone dig in!

Basic Bread Dough

I thought I’d start with something very simple, but also something that is easily adjusted to suit different tastes: Bread. I rarely make just wheat bread, instead I always add bit of semolina, oats, polenta, rye, or barley to my bread dough. Or maybe even some potato and dill, or nice strong cheese, like Emmental or Cheddar. Or olives, or sun dried tomatoes or…. you name it! Anything that I happen to fancy at the time!

For the basic bread dough you’ll need:

500ml warm water

30g fresh yeast or 10g dry yeast

15g fine sea salt

10g castor sugar

800g strong flour or 650g flour and 150g semolina/polenta/rye/oats..etc.

(olives/sun dried tomatoes/herbs according to taste)

(if you want to make potato bread, use a big floury one grated fine and reduce the flour amount a small bit)

Now, there are a few things to bear in mind when making bread. First, if you use dry yeast the ideal temperature for the water will be about 40 celsius, for fresh yeast it will be 30 celsius. Second, there are different levels of ground flour and the best for baking yeast based bread is fine ground flour, that contains mostly the grains inner part, which when baking has the best viscose abilities that are essential for good end result. In Ireland the best flour available in supermarkets is strong flour. If you’re in a different country the best way to find the right flour is simply to look at the recipe suggestion on the back of the packet, if it’s for bread, then you have the correct one! Also what to bear in mind that all flour brands have different absorbing capabilities, (it can even vary with one brand from  year to year) therefore only add 90% of the flour amount stated on the recipe and the rest bit by bit, or you might even end up adding more than advised on the recipe.

I use sugar in my bread because it “feeds” the yeast, it’s a great little bit of inside information that I learned in college. You wont taste it and your bread will rise better!

So, throw your ingredients together and knead for about 8-15mins. The kneading time depends on whether you do it by hand or let your mixer do the work. If you use mixer, use the dough hook. I bought myself a Kenwood mixer and it is wonderful for speeding things up. Your dough should be moist, but not wet and it should not stick to your hands, work surface or the bowl too much. Once the dough has nice viscosity (it’s elastic, and bounces back when stretched) you’ll know it’s good to be left to rest for about 20mins under a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap (to keep in the moisture and heat).

From this recipe you can make two equal size loaves, or about 14 bread rolls (or less, if you like bigger ones)

Leave to rise for about one hour in warm place, again under a cloth or cling film. Flour the surface of the bread so it wont stick when rising, or sprinkle with semolina, polenta, oats, etc. This way you’ll get really lovely rustic looking bread once baked. The ideal temperature for rising bread is about 37 celsius with about 60-70% humidity, if you can create those conditions, you’ll only need 45mins!

Bake in 200 degrees celsius for 20mins for bread rolls and approx. 40mins for bigger loaves. You have to use common sense when assessing whether the bread is done or not for the simple reason that some ovens are more efficient than others! What I normally do is to set the oven for 35mins and keep checking after that. Thoroughly baked bread will have lovely golden brown colour, sound hollow when knocked on the base and smell absolutely gorgeous!

© 2011 Simon Bates Photography

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