[I had forgotten – Cinnamon buns]
I had forgotten about the smell of bonfires and forests; coffee made in a cast-iron pot, with as much water as we put ground beans. I had forgotten how blueberries taint your hands; and your lips. And how small they are meant to be.
I had forgotten how it feels like to gaze at the milky way, when the only lights to be seen are far up in the sky. I had forgotten how to make wishes at every shooting stars we see, and how we can’t help but wish harder for them to happen.
I had forgotten how to dig potatoes with my hands. And pick apples from trees. Carrying them, not unlike treasures, in a made-up bag, more of an upside-down dress, really.
I had forgotten about standing by the shore – with wet stocks, mud on our rolled up work trousers (of the too-large kind) and blueberry juices on our hands, earth under our nails – for hours, waiting for fish to come. They almost never do, but who cares?
I had forgotten how to make a cake batter with a wooden spoon. How to knead without a dough hook. How to bake without a timer. And how to eat with our fingers.
But right there, I’ve remembered. The golden trees at dusk. The gumboots we walk into. The smiles we have and what they mean.
It happened one day, of the recent past kind. A distant memory. Or perhaps, just a dream. But really, I have never been more awake. Eyes wide open. And heart too.
I made those on our last night in Sweden. We’d planned a roadtrip to the river the next day. Just hours before our flight.
I proved the dough as I slept, and early in the morning, when the fog was still surrounding us and coffee hadn’t been made yet, I baked them. Of course, I forgot to put a timer. But really, that afternoon, when we sat on the ground by the bonfire, waiting patiently for the coffee to bubble into the flames, they made a pretty decent goûter, to the sound of streaming water and jumping salmons; wind in the trees and branches cracking under our feet.
The dough itself is really easy to make. Quite sticky which makes kneading by hand fairly difficult, but please, don’t be tempted to add more flour. Just be patient and make a plastic scraper – or in my case an old cheese slicer – your new best friend to keep your bench clean.
makes 10 large buns
for the dough
300 g plain flour
150 g whole-wheat flour
130 g caster sugar
3 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
240 g whole milk
one egg yolk
125 g butter, softened
for the cinnamon butter
100 g butter, very soft
100 g caster sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
Mix the flours, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl. In a jug, combine the milk, egg and yolk. Pour the liquid over the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or – my favourite, when it comes to dough – a fork until it forms a rough dough.
Transfer to a clean work surface and knead until smooth. You could also use a stand-mixer fitted with the dough-hook, and trust me, it would make your life so much easier as it’s quite sticky. If you’re kneading by hand – like I did – expect to be at it for 15 to 20 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic, and just tacky.
At this point, add the butter, rubbing it into the dough, then knead for an extra 5 minutes.
Place the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a cloth. Allow to proof at room temperature for a couple of hours, or until doubled in size.
In the meantime, get the cinnamon butter ready. Simply cream the butter, sugar and spices for a minute or two and keep at room temperature until needed.
When the dough has proved, punch to deflate, then transfer to a lightly floured work surface and roll into a 30x40cm rectangle, approximately 8mm thick.
Spread with the cinnamon butter and roll into a tight log. Cut the log into ten 4cm-wide slices using a sharp knife, and arrange into a large baking tray lined with baking paper.
Cover loosely with buttered clingfilm and proof until doubled in size.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 170°C.
When the buns have proved, bake in the preheated oven for around 30 minutes, or until golden-brown.
Allow to cool down slightly, pack your car with rods and gum boots. And please don’t forget that cast-iron pot or the ground coffee.