Sticky buns … with an Orange and Chocolate twist

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December is here.  This means I have been in Italy for over 1 month now and it is now less than 1 month till I fly home to Germany to see my family (we are not going to talk about what this means for my Christmas shopping, if there is one thing time has taught me is that I will find a present for everyone by the time the 24th of December comes round, however late or early I start the present hunting).

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I already posted a recipe for a French twist on the typical sticky bun / cinnamon roll recipes, so the recipe for the dough below is the same recipe, again, taken from the Pioneer Woman’s blog. Her recipe for sweet enriched dough (i.e. a basic yeasted dough which is enriched with the addition of fat, here sunflower oil, and sugar) has become my go-to recipe whenever I need a sweet yeasted dough.  Yes, the dough is not the easiest to work with at the beginning and takes its time to come together, but the end result is always worth it – the recipe yields the softest fluffiest rolls I have ever been able to achieve at home.

The only changes I have made were to the filling – Alessandro and I bought some gorgeous oranges the other day and while I work up the courage to turn a few of them into orange and clove pomanders like these (yes, the smells is divine and Christmassy, but man your fingers will hurt after ramming a handfull of cloves into half a dozen of oranges), I wanted to use some of the oranges in the sticky buns I was baking for breakfast on the weekend.  Also, for the sake of my sanity I have finally converted the recipe into metric measurements.  As much as I like the simplicity of the American ‘cup’ system, it drives me nuts every time I want to convert recipes for smaller quantities.

As for the combination of chocolate and orange, it is one of my faovurite flavour combinations of all times, although, and as I have learned fromthe brilliant book from the even more brilliant Niki Segnit, this flavour combination dates back to at least the seventeenth century.  I guess some might now call me old-fashioned.  I don’t care.  The flavour combination works and, as Alessandro’s work colleagues (my current trusted guinea pigs for all my baking experiments) confirmed, it works very well indeed in sticky buns.

Recipe for Chocolate-Orange Sticky Buns
Makes ca. 18 mini buns, or 9 regular buns, adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s recipe for Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients
275ml milk
50ml vegetable oil (I used sunflower)
60g caster sugar
300g plus 50g all-purpose flour
3.5g dried active yeast
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
30g butter, melted
3 tsps brown sugar
100g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
Zest of 1 unwaxed orange
2 tbsps milk2 tbsps apricot jam

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Directions

1.  Combine the milk, oil and caster sugar in a sauce pan and warm-up on a small flame until the milk is hot but not boiling.  Sprinkle the yeast over the milk and mix in 300g of the flour.  Let mixture sit covered with a teatowel somewhere warm for at least 1 hour.

2.  Mix the remaining 50g flour with the baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Mix this with the yeast mixture.  The dough will be very sticky at this point but don’t despair – even the stickiest dough can turn into a perfectly smooth and round dough ball with the right amount of kneading and in particular folding (to work the gluten and incorporate air into the dough).  This could take 10-20 minutes if kneading by hand but will be much quicker with a standmixer.

3. Pre-heat the oven to 195 degrees (180 degrees for a fan-assisted oven).

4. Roll out the dough to a thin rectangle (ca. 1/2 cm thick).  Pour the melted butter over the dough rectangle and distribute evenly with the help of a spoon or a pastry brush.

5. Rub the orange zest into the brown sugar (this will help release the aromatic oils in the orange zest and really bring out the orange flavour).  Combine with the chopped chocolate and scatter over the dough.

6. Start rolling the long side of the rectangle towards you, pinching the ends together.  Cut the dough roll into ca. 8 equally sized rolls and put them, cut-side up into a greased springform.  Let rise for another 20-30 minutes.  At this point you could also cover the springform with clingfilm and place it in the fridge overnight before baking the rolls in time for breakfast.

7.  Once risen and ready to bake, brush the rolls with milk, using a pastry brush.  Bake for 15-18 mins.

8.  While the rolls are still warm, quickly brush them with the apricot jam for a sticky and shiny glaze.

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