Hats off to the Royal Baker
In the lead up to the eagerly awaited wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle this weekend, although I am very excited about the event itself, I have mostly been contemplating their wedding cake, and more specifically the thoughts and feelings of the one lady chosen to make it.
And, as they have bestowed no other than the extremely talented Claire Ptak from Violet Bakery with this honour, I am in no doubt that it will be a cake to remember.
“Even just hearing the flavours got me all excited – Lemon and Elderflower is such a beautiful combination and from what I can gather, the fresh flowers adorning it will be equally as pretty.”
It’s safe to say I am slightly in awe of Claire. Making celebration cakes of any kind is always such a privilege. I love it when friends, family and clients ask me to make cakes for their special occasions. However, I always approach these special projects a little nervously, hoping every tiny detail will work out the way I intended, and that the recipient will get as much pleasure from the end result as all the hours that went into it.
With all these emotions I experience, I can’t imagine how nerve-wracking, exciting and incredible it must be to make a cake fit for a Queen (or Prince, Princess, Duke or Duchess for that matter!).
I suppose with every cake you make, you feel that bit more confident and as a truly skilled baker, I am sure Claire is used to a fair amount of pressure.
I still think it’s nod-worthy though, and as Claire adds all the final details onto her beautiful cakes, I will be giving a very proud nod in her direction with these lovely little Vegan Cinnamon and Pecan buns.
These have been adapted from a recipe Claire shared in the Daily Telegraph in 2015. The original recipe is made with butter and milk, however I have changed it to make them dairy free. I also added some delicious pecans, which gives a lovely caramel toasty note to the finished buns.
In fact, this was one of the first intolerance-friendly bakes I mastered in my kitchen three years ago and have been a firm favourite in our house ever since.
They can be made with butter (but are a great option for any dairy-intolerant or vegan guests you might have staying over!).
I am such a fan of cinnamon and think that the use of ground cardamom in this dough adds an extra layer of warmth to these buns, which I just love. The nuts are completely optional of course and can be left out if you just want to keep them simple. When I make these at home, I always sprinkle pecans on half the dough and leave one half without, as my children love them just as they are.
From start to finish, these little buns can be made within 45 – 50 minutes. They are best eaten warm from the oven, but can be enjoyed cold or reheated in the oven the next day or the day after. You can also prepare ahead by freezing them uncooked in the muffin tin and baking them from frozen (just increase your cooking time a little and, depending on how fierce your oven is; you may need to turn the temperature down a fraction too).
I love the organic process of making these lovely fragrant buns, the steady swirl of the mixer and the slow and patient the resting of the dough, plus the heady scent of cinnamon filling your kitchen as they bake.
I really hope you love making them as much as I do - with a nice hot cuppa in hand!
Add two-thirds of the milk to start with and then gradually add the rest. Different flours absorb different amounts of liquid and dairy-free spread usually adds moisture too, so you may or may not need the full amount!
What you want to see is the dough coming away from the sides of the bowl while it's mixing and it should feel soft and slightly tacky to touch. Don't worry though if you end up pouring all the milk in and it is sticky, just make sure you flour your worktop, rolling pin and your hands before handling and keep adding flour underneath when you roll out if it starts to stick.
Make sure the spread and the milk that you use is cold from the fridge, this will result in the best pastry dough.
You want a really quite thick layer of the cinnamon sugar filling, so make sure you use all (or almost all) of the mix that you make up.
Any escaping sugar as the buns cook just add to the rustic look of these lovely buns and make them look even more delicious.
Please mind your fingers when handling these hot buns out of the oven, the cinnamon-sugar filling gets super-hot. I tend to do a bit of a hot potato dance when I am dipping them in the sugar!