These are the only thing I want to wake up to on Christmas morning – better than a stocking from Santa (although you can, and should, make them at any time of the year). A festive take on the Scandinavian kanelsnurre, these feature all of my favorite winter flavors and are the product of my quest to incorporate the underrated chestnut into as many recipes as possible. The maple pears add a delicious burst of buttery sweetness, but you could use apples instead.
For the dough
180ml whole milk
500g strong white flour
60g light brown soft sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
7g fast-action dried yeast
For the filling
70g butter, softened at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
50g light brown soft sugar
200g chestnut purée
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
a pinch of salt
2 ripe but firm pears (Conference or Comice works well)
5 tablespoons maple syrup
For the glaze
50g unsalted butter
20g demerara sugar
Put the milk and butter for the dough in a small saucepan over medium heat and allow the butter to melt (about 5 minutes). Turn off the heat and set aside to cool to body temperature, then beat in the eggs.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, or in a large mixing bowl if using your hands, combine the flour, sugar, and cinnamon. Add the salt on one side of the flour mixture in the bowl and the yeast on the other. Make a well in the center and pour in the egg and milk mixture. Using the dough hook or your hands, bring the mixture together to form a sticky dough, then knead for about 10 minutes, until the dough is soft and silky, and no longer sticky. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and leave the dough to rise in a warm place for 1–2 hours, until doubled in size.
Lightly grease a large roasting tin or baking dish (one with high sides) and line it with baking parchment.
While the dough rises, prepare the filling. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the butter, sugar, chestnut purée, vanilla, and salt, mashing them together with the back of a spoon to form a homogeneous paste. Core the pears (you can peel them too if you like, but I don’t think it is necessary) and chop them into small dice (roughly 1cm). Put them in a separate bowl and toss them with the maple syrup. Set aside.
When the dough has doubled in size, roll it out on a floured work surface to a rectangle about 45 x 35cm, with the long side facing you. Spread the chestnut filling evenly over the dough, leaving a border of about 2.5cm at the long edges. Scatter the maple pears evenly over the chestnut filling.
I Hope You Love It
Starting with the long side furthest away from you and rolling towards your body, tightly roll up the dough and filling so that you end up with a long log. Using a sharp, serrated knife, slice the log along its length into 15 even rounds. Place each round, swirl-side up, on the prepared roasting tin or baking dish with about a 2.5cm gap between each. Cover the tin with a clean tea towel and leave the buns to prove until nearly doubled in size (about 30–60 minutes) – the edges will start to touch one another and the edges of the tin.
While the buns are proving, pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6. When they have proved, put the tin in the oven and bake the buns for 23 minutes.
While the buns are baking, make the glaze. Place the butter in a saucepan and melt over medium heat. After 23 minutes, remove the buns from the oven and, using a pastry brush, glaze them with the melted butter. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and return the buns to the oven to bake for a final 7 minutes, until golden.
Remove them from the oven and leave the buns to cool in the tin (if you can wait that long) before devouring. They freeze well and are easily reheated in an oven at 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4.