Every year, it’s another Everything Looks Rosie tradition to share an enriched festive dough for Christmas – past years I have made a cranberry and orange chelsea bun tree and cherry and pistachio stollen. At this time of year it’s well worth the extra effort to make something a wee bit special for slow seasonal brunches and afternoon teas. This brioche-like dough is simple to make and can be adapted to a variety of fillings (including savoury) but these sticky chestnut buns with toffee sauce, brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts are my favourite festive treat. To make the buns, you will need:
400g strong white bread flour
7g fast action dried yeast
3 tbsp honey
75ml warm water
1/2 tsp sea salt
200 ml buttermilk/ yogurt
For the toffee topping:
175g unsalted butter
350g light muscovado sugar
100ml maple syrup
75ml double cream
¼ tsp salt
For the filling:
50g light muscovado sugar
50g demerara sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75g cooked peeled chestnut, finely chopped, plus 75g extra to scatter
50g toasted pecan nuts, broken into small pieces, plus 75g extra to scatter.
First, make the dough. Pour the yeast into a small bowl and mix with water and honey. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. In a large bowl mix the flour and salt, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture and the cooled melted butter.
Mix into the flour and gradually add in the buttermilk until all the flour is incorporated in the dough. Knead for 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
Leave it to prove in a bowl covered with a damp tea towel until double in size.
To make the topping, melt the 175g butter in a medium pan. Add the 350g light muscovado sugar and 85ml water and stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup, cream and salt. Pour most of the mixture into a non-stick roasting tin about 24cm x 36cm and 7cm deep, then tilt back and forth so it covers the tin evenly. Set aside to cool, and leave the rest for decoration later.
For the filling, mix the sugars, cinnamon, 75g chestnuts and 50g pecans together in a small bowl. Uncover the dough, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cut the dough evenly in half and, one piece at a time, roll out into a 23cm x 30cm rectangle. Turn the dough so a short edge is facing you. Brush the surface with half the 50g melted butter and sprinkle evenly with half the filling mixture.
Then, working away from you, roll up tightly. Repeat with the second piece of dough. Cut each roll across into 6 x 4cm slices and put cut-side up, evenly spaced, on top of the toffee topping. Cover with cling film and leave somewhere warm for 1-2 hours until the buns have doubled in size and are touching each other. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes until puffed and richly golden. Cool in the tin for 20-30 minutes. Sprinkle the buns with the extra chopped chestnuts and pecans and an extra drizzle of sauce.
Serve warm; you can reheat the buns in a low oven for a few minutes or in the microwave for 30 seconds per bun.