These wonderfully sweet, doughy buns have a little Middle Eastern twist thanks to the use of cardamom pods, sesame seeds and tahini. They make the perfect afternoon treat when served with a steaming cup of black coffee which cuts through their sticky sweetness and balances the earthy aroma of the cardamom.
INGREDIENTS (makes 12)
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
250g strong white bread flour
40g caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets fast action/easy bake yeast
270ml whole milk
50g unsalted butter, diced
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
flavourless oil (such as sunflower), for greasing
180g unsalted butter, at room temperature
140g light brown muscovado sugar
40g plain flour
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp of ground cardamom (or the contents of about 8 pods crushed using a pestle and mortar)
2 tbsp sesame seeds, plus extra for topping
125g mejdool dates, finely chopped (optional)
30ml whole milk
15g unsalted butter
175g icing sugar
1. To make the dough, put the flours, sugar, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl and stir together. Put the milk and diced butter in a saucepan; set over a medium-high heat. Keep your finger in the milk as it heats up and as soon as it feels just warm – not hot – remove it from the heat (the butter won’t completely melt). Add the milk and butter to the dry ingredients along with the whole egg. Knead until you have a smooth dough for about 15 minutes by hand. If the mixture is too sticky add a little more flour.
2. When the dough is smooth, elastic and supple, put it in a mixing bowl greased with a little flavourless oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or cling film, then leave the dough to prove until doubled in size (about 1 hour at room temperature). Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Beat together the butter, sugar, flour, cardamon and cinnamon until you have a smooth, spreadable paste; set aside.
3. When the dough has doubled in size, liberally dust the work surface with flour and roll the dough out into a square of about 40cm. Spread the filling over the dough, from edge to edge with a spatula. Scatter over the sesame seeds and dates (if using) as evenly as possible, then roll into a tight spiral. Once you have a long sausage, trim the ends to neaten, then cut into 12 equal portions with a knife. Place the portions of dough, spiral side up, on a 20cm x 30cm baking tray in 4 rows of 3, leaving room to spread. Loosely cover the tray with cling film or a tea towel and let the buns rise until doubled in size (35-45 minutes at room temperature). Preheat the oven to 180˚C (fan).
4. When the buns have risen (don't worry if they haven't doubled, I find this second prove is less critical than the first), mix the egg yolk with ½ tsp water and a pinch of salt, then brush over the tops of the buns. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until puffed up and lightly golden. Meanwhile, make the drizzle. Put the milk and butter in a saucepan set over a high heat and bring to the boil. Take off the heat then add the tahini and icing sugar; stir to a smooth, glossy glaze. When the buns are cooked, drizzle the warm glaze over them. Finish with a scattering of toasted sesame seeds. Delicious eaten as soon as they are cool enough to handle.