I like to think of myself as a happy person. Neither up nor down most days, really rather happy the rest. Every once in a while though, something happens, something simple and so unexpected that you realise just how wonderful life is.
It's never about money...don't get me wrong, a lottery win would be good...and neither is it about power; who needs power when you're the mum of three despots. That leaves love and food; love and food encompass such a variety of actions and emotions. Both are complicated and incredibly simple: a touch from a child's hand against your face, a delicate slice of smoked salmon, perhaps a special kind of cake.....
Schnecken. Such a nice wee word. It makes you think "wonder what it could be? A sausage? A stew perhaps. Maybe a bread. Or a cake. Yes...a CAKE!". And you'd be right. You'd be dead right. But what you would fail to understand is how incredibly, delightfully right you'd be.
So, you may be wondering if I'm drunk. Well yes I am, but not on drink. On cake. Schnecken to be exact. Schnecken has brought me joy and happiness tonight in abundance. Happy cake, Kelly has christened it. I'm not going to hide it, I'm not going to lie; I just made the best bun every to be created in God's sweet earth. Why haven't I made this before, I wondered. Meh. Looks a bit messy, a bit complicated. Can't really be bothered when there are so many other, simpler recipes out there. Well, I'm so glad that tonight, I took the plunge and went for it.
My happiness summed up: schnecken bun, cup of illy coffee and 11 more looking at me from the dish.
Messy doesn't begin to describe making this but if ever a complete mess were worth it, then this is it. It's not that messy making it but cooking it and getting it out the pan....it's not hard, just make sure you have the oven gloves ready. Melted sugar and skin do not mix.
Nigella...the recipe giver...did say it was a bit tricky but she never mentioned that the bottom of my oven would be covered in molten lava sugar or that the muffin tin would resemble a nuclear fallout.
But when you empty out the tin and these buns come tumbling out, the smell of the maple sugar and golden syrup with a hint of cinnamon hitting your senses, you don't care. You'd throw away the tin...heck, you'd throw away the oven if you had to.
This is how the buns looked prior to baking; I don't think I'd rolled the dough quite tight enough as the cinnamon sugary filling was spilling out but I sprinkled the escaped sugar on top.
Here is a lady who made it properly; this is how it should look before cooking:
Since she has better style than me and gives a brilliant, blow by blow account of how it should be done, I'm going to take the easy route and direct you to her schnecken recipe. I will give you the UK list of ingredients though as the ingredients listed on this blog are American amounts and ingredients.
I would say though, my first go was pretty amazing (incase you couldn't tell) and you really can't go wrong. My one piece of advice? Place foil or parchment paper on the bottom of your oven and do not remove until the oven is cold and the sugar that has fallen onto it has cooled completely.
British Ingredients for Schnecken
for the dough:
500g bread flour
50g caster sugar
Half teaspoon salt
7g (1 sachet) easy blend yeast or 15g fresh yeast
75g unsalted butter
2 large eggs
for the syrup:
125g unsalted butter
2tablespoons demerara sugar (I used soft brown simply because I had no demerara left)
4 tablespoons maple syrup (I used 2)
3 tablespoons golden syrup
200g walnut or pecan pieces (I used pecans bashed up, around 50g as half were made without any nuts for the kids)
for the glaze:
1 large egg
2 tablespoons milk (this seemed like an awful lot: small egg and one tablespoon milk is fine)
for the filling:
50g caster sugar
100g demerara sugar (I used soft brown sugar)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
12 bun muffin tin, buttered
Parchment lined tray or tin to empty the buns into...they may stick a little, help them out but please watch the dripping molten lava which is melted sugar! No hospital trips please!
Last night I made vegetable curry with boiled rice and my quick version of paratha. It's amazing what you can cook when the cupboard is bare; serves me right for freezing all the meat.
Vegetable Curry with Paratha
For the paste:
2 red chillies, de-seeded
Ginger, around 2 inches, peeled
2 cloves garlic
Blend. Then add the following, once ground:
Approx. 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds, Coriander seeds, Fennel Seeds, Fenugreek Seeds, half cinnamon stick, 3 cardamon pods. All you really need are the cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cardamon pods. Toast lightly in a pan and then grind, using a pestle and mortar. Add to blender. Give it a quick buzz.
Choose vegetables to taste. I chose a few large potatoes, peeled and cubed, a courgette, chopped into large chunks and a tin of chick peas.
Homemade tomato sauce, around cupful (optional)
Tin chopped tomatoes
Handful coriander (optional...I didn't have any fresh)
Clarified butter, ghee or oil-tablespoon
Heat up butter or oil in a deep pan and scrape out the paste into the hot pan. Fry gently for around 5-8 minutes. Add in the vegetables and stir. Add in tomato sauce, tinned tomatoes and a little water. Stir, bring to the boil then simmer with the lid on for at least 30-45 minutes. Check seasoning, add the lime juice and serve with a few tablespoons yoghurt and plain boiled rice.
Rather than go through what seems like a complicated process, especially if explained by me, I'll just give you the link to the great site which tells you how to make this wonderful, flaky bread. It really is quite simple once you've done it step by step.