#0025: Roll With It
Updated: Jun 2, 2020
It's 10th July, 2018, and I'm being lashed by horizontal rain outside Hallgrímskirkja in Reykjavík. Water is streaming down the brutal, grey facade of the church like waves rushing from the basalt columns that guard Iceland's magnificent coastline.
For the past two days, the clouds haven't lifted, the rain hasn't stopped falling and the temperature hasn't risen above 10°C. Everyone I've spoken to has taken a grim pleasure in sharing the fact that the weather this summer has been the worst in a hundred years. Even by Argyll's standards, the conditions are pretty extreme.
None of that matters right now though, because something has wonderful happened. Right here, like a bolt from the heavy, grey sky, I've been struck by a revelation.
I'm going to learn to bake.
Just down the street, the queue is gently winding out of the door of Brauð & Co, and its tattooed, beautiful staff, half viking, half hipster, are working full tilt. I'd managed to get there just after opening, before the crowds, so I could take my time. So I could take it all in. This place is legendary. Within its intricately graffitied walls, these Norse gods of the kitchen have built their own, yeast-scented Asgard, where they prepare batch after batch of freshly baked perfection.
Stacks of faultless rye breads, and sourdoughs, and a seemingly endless array of pastries line the walls. My own, personal Valhalla.
Have you ever had that moment when you bite into something and stop, and smile, and ask yourself what did I just put in my mouth?
Brauð & Co's cinnamon roll gave me that moment on that wet Tuesday last July. That was the moment I decided to bring my baking to the Secret Coast. The start of a little adventure.
This recipe is for a cinnamon roll cake. When something tastes this good, it'd be rude not to share it.
Start by shelling twenty or so cardamom pods until you have 3g of seeds, then grind them with a pestle and mortar.
Next, melt in 80g of unsalted butter and gently heat it with 275g of milk until it's warm but not hot. Beat an egg and whisk half of it into the milk with 7g of dried yeast. Set the rest of the egg to one side until later.
Pour the liquid into a stand mixer bowl and, using a dough hook set to a slow to medium speed, mix in 50g of caster sugar, 3g of freshly ground salt and the ground cardamom. With the mixer still running, add 500g of strong white bread flour a spoonful at a time. Once the dough has fully combined, cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it in a warm place to prove for an hour or so.
Whilst the dough is proving, mix 100g of soft brown sugar with 8g of ground cinnamon, then set the mixture aside until later.
Once proved, the dough will have more or less doubled in size. Turn it out onto a floured work surface or table-top and roll it out until it’s about forty centimetres long and thirty centimetres wide. Thinly spread about 50g of butter over the dough, then evenly sprinkle the cinnamon mixture over the top until the dough is completely covered with a thin layer of butter, sugar and cinnamon.
Starting at one of the long edges, gently roll the dough as tightly as you can, until you’re left with a long sausage shape. Cut the rolled dough into five centimetre rolls and arrange them, side by side, in a well greased twenty six centimetre diameter springform cake tin. You should get about eight rolls in total; arrange them in the tin as neatly as you can, then cover the tin with your tea towel, and leave it to prove for another twenty minutes.
Once the cake is proved, gently brush it with the leftover beaten egg, and sprinkle with caster sugar and a handful of flaked almonds, before baking it in a pre-heated fan oven at about 180°C for about twenty five minutes.
Whilst the cake is baking, prepare a glaze by boiling 40g of caster sugar, a tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice and 50g of water, and leaving it to simmer for fifteen minutes.
Once baked, remove your cake from the oven, transfer it to a wire rack, and brush it with the glaze before leaving it to cool.
And there you have it; a perfect treat for any time, but especially good on rainy Tuesdays.