This time last week we were kicking off our May Local is Lovely Food Photography and Styling Pracshop™ and I was just about to pull the below cinnamon knots out of the oven for morning tea. A few of our participants have since asked for the recipe so I thought it might be nice to share here below. I’ve also included a bunch of photographs and a couple more recipes from the rest of our workshop and links to two videos created by Luisa Brimble which capture so beautifully, I think, the happy and creative essence of our workshops.
This is probably my favourite thing to cook. I love working with the sweet yeast, love filling my kitchen with the sweet, buttery cinnamon smell of them baking and more than anything, love serving them up to my family. A true labour of love, this is Sunday morning cooking for me, slow and gentle and immensely satisfying. The dough is a wonderful base for all kinds of sweet buns; you can use it to make classic cinnamon scrolls, you can plait it or just use it to make simple sweet buns to serve with jam. Thank you very much to my baking bible Scandinavian Baking for inspiring this recipe, mine below is an adaptation of one given therein by author Trine Hahnemann, and as I’ve mentioned this book before here and can’t seem to stop; if you enjoy baking then please grab yourself a copy!
50g fresh yeast
2 cups whole milk, lukewarm
6 cups plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt
150g butter, softened and grated or cut into small cubes
For the filling
150g butter, softened, 3 tbsp ground cinnamon and 3/4 cup caster sugar
For the egg wash:
1 egg, 2 tbsp cream and 4 tbsp golden caster sugar
For the dough, crumble the yeast into a large bowl (if you are using an electric mixer with a dough hook – which I really recommend – crumble the yeast directly into the bowl for that) and pour over the warm milk. Whisk to combine, then add the egg, flour, sugar, spices, salt and butter. Bring together and knead, either by hand or with your dough hook for five minutes. This is a particularly sticky dough, but should, after at the end of this time, be smooth and shiny too. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one to two hours (dough should double in size in this time).
For the filling, place all ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy.
To assemble the knots; roll the pastry out onto a lightly floured work surface so you have a large rectangle, about 30x40cm. Spread the cinnamon mixture lengthways across the bottom half of the dough, then fold the top half down over the bottom so you have a rectangle about 15x40cm. Now for the fun part! Cut the mixture down into strips about 2cm thick each, take the first one and wrap it around your four fingers twice, as you would with string if you were tidying up into a loose knot. Bring the end through the centre of the knot and pull through so you have a round, knot shape. This might take a little bit of practice but if you’re not too fussed about aesthetics don’t worry – they will still taste amazing and after a good eggwash and spell in the oven, will come out golden and gorgeous anyway.
Arrange knots on a baking tray, with a few centimetres between each so they have room to increase in size while cooking. Preheat oven to 180C and set knots aside to rest for a final 30 minutes (to be honest though, at this stage I often leave them for up to a couple of hours and they don’t seem to mind, the dough is fairly forgiving). Before baking, whisk together the egg and cream and brush this gently over the knots, sprinkle with the golden caster sugar and place the tray in your oven to cook for 25 minutes or until the buns are golden. Your kitchen will smell amazing by the way! Serve with cups of tea and/or hot chocolate.
How stunning is this hat, pictured above, and worn by it’s maker, Orange-based milliner Fiona Schofield
A luscious camembert by Orange’s Second Mouse Cheese Company’s took centre stage in one of our styling set ups and then provided a delicious pre-dinner treat once everyone had finished shooting.
These rosemary and burnt toffee marshmallows were styled beautifully by Stephanie Stamatis and shot then eaten by all of us! I made them to this recipe but made just a couple of changes; I almost burnt (intentionally of course) the caramel in the first step to give the marshmallows an almost smoky toffee flavour and colour, and I also added a tablespoon of very finely chopped rosemary in the last minute of mixing.
I was so happy that my clever sister-in-law Penny Hanan of 1803 Artisan Deer Design could come along to this workshop and bring her hand-forged, antler handled knives which found their way into lots of beautiful shots.
Standing on tables is totally encouraged at our workshops.
For our last meal together; it was a tasty little spread of baked ricotta, chickpeas with spinach, aioli, fennel gratin and Erika and Hayden of Epicurean Harvest’s beautiful vegetables roasted simply with Kimbri olive oil and salt and pepper. Here are some of the recipes.
This is one of the easiest and yummiest additions to the lunch table I know of. I usually try to make my own ricotta for this because it’s cheaper and often easier than making a special trip to the shops (here’s my recipe). Serves 6.
6 fresh free range eggs, lightly beaten
1kg fresh ricotta
1 cup grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 180C and lightly grease a four-cup capacity baking dish. Gently stir to combine all ingredients (don’t use an electric mixer as the end result will, I find, become too dense), and spoon into your baking dish. Sprinkle with salt and pepper then bake for 20 minutes or until golden and just firm to touch. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Variations; add chopped thyme or marjoram to the ricotta mixture before baking and/or dot the top of the ricotta (again before baking) with halved cherry tomatoes.
Chickpeas with spinach
This is a recipe I’ve been cooking for years but comes (adapted somewhat) via another favourite book, the blue River Cafe Cook Book. It’s great for lunch because, as with the ricotta above, it’s flavours seem to improve at room temperature so you can do all the prep way in advance. Serves 6-8.
2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
1 bunch spinach, leaves stripped from the stems and roughly shredded
1 red onion, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 cup white wine
2 bunches parsley, finely chopped
Juice and zest of two lemons
Fresh horseradish, optional
Drain the chickpeas from their soaking water then place in a large saucepan with the garlic, bay, tomatoes and olive oil. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes or until the chickpeas are lovely and tender. Drain excess water away and discard the bay but keep the tomatoes and garlic. Blanch the spinach and chop finely.
Now heat a little more olive oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook the onion and carrot and cook slowly for about 10 minutes. Add the chilli flakes if using now pour in the white wine, increase heat and cook until reduced by half. Meanwhile, squeeze the garlic from each clove and place the tomatoes in a food processor and whizz to combine, this will make you a lovely, thick tomato paste. Stir this, with the chickpeas and chard into the onion mixture and stir to combine. Cook for a further 10 minutes then transfer to a serving platter, season to taste then sprinkle over the parsley, lemon zest and fresh grated horseradish and finally, drizzle over a little extra olive oil. Serve as part of a lunch spread or on it’s own with a little fresh ricotta and a green salad.
A super tasty, simple side-dish which I love serving, particularly with our venison as it creates a beautiful sauce upon which to serve the meat. Serves 6.
4 fennel bulbs, trimmed and very finely sliced (I use a mandolin here)
1 1/2 cups cream
1/2 cup parmesan, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Preheat oven to 180C. Mix together the fennel, cream, parmesan and garlic and season to taste. Transfer mixture to a baking dish and cook for 40 minutes or until the fennel is nice and tender. This also is beautiful served at room temperature.