Nicola Lamb’s French toast cinnamon buns

Nicola Lamb’s French toast cinnamon buns

Soft, lightly spiced cinnamon buns are wonderful as they are, but expert pastry chef Nicola Lamb takes her creations up a level or two by soaking them in rum-flavoured custard, then drizzling generously with a sticky caramel icing. Ooh la la!

Nicola Lamb’s French toast cinnamon buns

“These are the softest and most tender cinnamon buns you’ll ever have,” says Nicola. “Giving them the French toast treatment is probably the most luxurious thing you can do. I mean, who doesn’t want to have a custard bath? You can (and should) try applying this technique to any and all buns for extra squidginess.”

Recipe taken from Sift by Nicola Lamb (Ebury Press £30) and tested by delicious. Click this way for all our French toast recipes.

  • Serves icon Makes 10
  • Time icon Hands-on time 1 hour, plus at least 2 hours 40 min resting and proving. Oven time 32 min, plus cooling

Soft, lightly spiced cinnamon buns are wonderful as they are, but expert pastry chef Nicola Lamb takes her creations up a level or two by soaking them in rum-flavoured custard, then drizzling generously with a sticky caramel icing. Ooh la la!

“These are the softest and most tender cinnamon buns you’ll ever have,” says Nicola. “Giving them the French toast treatment is probably the most luxurious thing you can do. I mean, who doesn’t want to have a custard bath? You can (and should) try applying this technique to any and all buns for extra squidginess.”

Recipe taken from Sift by Nicola Lamb (Ebury Press £30) and tested by delicious. Click this way for all our French toast recipes.

Nutrition: Per bun

Calories
419kcals
Fat
21.6g (13.2g saturated)
Protein
6.4g
Carbohydrates
48g (28.8g sugars)
Fibre
1g
Salt
1g

Ingredients

  •  270g strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust
  • 35g whole milk
  • 55g free-range egg (about 1 medium egg), plus another whole egg, beaten with a pinch of salt, to brush
  • 4g dried yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 5g fine sea salt
  • 70g unsalted butter, softened

For the spiced butter

  • 120g unsalted butter, softened
  • 60g demerara sugar
  • 60g soft light brown sugar
  • Pinch sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the soak

  • 200g whole milk
  • 100g free-range eggs (about 2 medium eggs)
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 20g dark spiced rum
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped

For the icing

  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp dark spiced rum
  • Pinch sea salt flakes

Specialist kit

  • 12-hole cupcake tin
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Method

  1. Make a tangzhong (see Nicola’s tips below) by whisking 25g of the flour with 120g water in a saucepan. Set over a medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture becomes very thick. Remove from the heat and transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attached. Wait a few minutes for it to cool – you want it warm but cool enough to touch.
  2. Add the 35g milk and 55g egg to the tangzhong, followed by the remaining flour and the yeast, sugar and salt. Mix on a medium speed for 8-10 minutes until medium gluten development is reached – this is when you can pull on the dough and it stays together but it’s still quite fragile. You can take it further than this, but this is the minimum requirement before adding the butter.
  3. With the mixer running, add the softened butter a teaspoon at a time. Mix until very smooth – another 6-8 minutes – and full gluten development is reached. This is when you can pull a thin, almost translucent layer with the dough. If the dough hasn’t reached this stage, let it rest for 5 minutes, then come back and mix for another 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and ‘round’ it a few times on your (unfloured) work surface so it’s smooth all over (cup your hands lightly around the back of the dough and pull towards you a little, then rotate and repeat a few times to tighten the top of the dough and create a ball). Press the dough down onto a tray, wrap well and leave in the fridge overnight to prove. To forgo the overnight chill, put it in the freezer for 30 minutes to stop fermentation, then transfer to the fridge for 1 hour to chill until solid.
  5. For the spiced butter, mix all the ingredients together until just combined (you don’t want it to be aerated so don’t beat for long). Set aside until ready to use.
  6. On a lightly dusted work surface, roll the chilled dough into a 40cm x 25cm rectangle. Spread 100g of the spiced butter onto the dough and perform a letter fold (fold the dough into thirds, crossing over in the middle, as you would fold a letter to fit it into an envelope). Wrap and put in the freezer for 10 minutes or the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  7. With one of the shorter sides facing you, once again roll out the dough to a 40cm x 25cm rectangle. Spread over the rest of the spiced butter. Perform another letter fold; the dough should be around 25cm x 15cm. Lengthen the dough a little by rolling it to 30cm x 15cm.
  8. With a long side facing you, cut the dough widthways into 3cm wide pieces (about 75-85g each). You should get 10 in total. To shape, cut 3 strips into each piece, leaving 2-3cm uncut at one end. Plait the strips, then roll each one up into a bun and put in the cupcake tin. Lightly cover and leave to prove for 1 hour or until puffed up.
  9. Heat the oven to 180°C fan/gas 6. Gently brush the buns with egg wash, then bake for 18-22 minutes until golden. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  10. Whisk together all the ingredients for the soak in a wide dish – a baking dish works well. Once the buns have cooled slightly, remove them from the tin and put them in the soak – turn after a few minutes so they absorb as much liquid as possible, then put them back in the cupcake tin. Turn the oven down to 170°C fan/gas 5, then bake for another 10 minutes.
  11. Carefully remove the buns from the tin (use an offset spatula if you have one – sometimes they can stick), then leave to cool completely on a cooling rack.
  12. For the icing, heat the sugar, vinegar and 20ml water in a small pan for 1-2 minutes until bubbling viciously. Remove from the heat, then whisk in the butter, rum and a pinch of salt. Leave to cool for 10 minutes until thickened slightly, then drizzle the buns with the icing. Leave to set for 5 minutes before serving. The buns can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days – reheat in a 150°C fan/gas 3½ oven for 10 minutes to serve.

Nutrition

Nutrition: per serving
Calories
419kcals
Fat
21.6g (13.2g saturated)
Protein
6.4g
Carbohydrates
48g (28.8g sugars)
Fibre
1g
Salt
1g

delicious. tips

  1. Nicola’s tips
    • You can make the spiced butter in advance and keep it in the fridge – just make sure it’s soft and spreadable before using.
    • Tangzhong is a thick, gel-like paste made by heating flour and liquid, which is added to bread dough to increase moisture and create a soft, fluffy texture. The technique is said to originate in Japan but it’s also used elsewhere in the Far East.
    • The water in the tangzhong can be replaced with equal parts milk and water or all milk. This makes the buns brown a little more and become slightly more tender.
    • You can make the soak up to 3 days in advance and keep it in the fridge.

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