Pumpkin Spice & Pistachio Buns

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The below article was originally published in the Nottingham Evening Post newspaper on 9-11-2016 and can be found online HERE

Baker, blogger and regular guest of BBC Radio Nottingham’s Baking Hour, Jordan Cox talks autumnal bakes and seasonal spicing to keep you warm.

I’ve long loved the short period that starts at end of bonfire night.  Whilst only getting to really enjoy autumn for a few weeks before the madness that is Christmas begins, this is the time that a baker gets to relish in the seasons delights.

Putting away the summer fruits and breaking the rich spices out of storage, swapping the light buttercreams for dark caramels. My kitchen begins to take on notes of the upcoming festive celebrations as the week’s progress.

Making the first cinnamon rolls of the year is something of an event in my household as they get handed round the neighborhood to neighbors and friends.  Hundreds get baked over the winter months but no batch will ever be as comforting as the first.

The leftover pumpkins found abandoned in the supermarkets after Halloween get rustled up and turned into deep-filled pumpkin tarts to be served with sweetened cream.  The last of the frozen fresh berries of summer get steamed into decedent puddings before being draped in thick fresh custard.

Apples harvested from garden trees, or “acquired” from a neighbors are ripe to be turned into indulgent pies whilst dried fruit gets soaked in whisky to start baking the Christmas cakes needed for the big day itself.

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Although famed for my sweet tooth, the vegetarian in me also gets giddy with excitement at the savory delights to be found at this time of year as the first of the winter vegetables reach the shops.

Honey glazed beetroot is begging to be covered in garlic mushrooms and puff pastry to make a hearty Sunday dinner centerpiece for your picky veggie relative that is sure to please.

Soups from hearty winter vegetables, served with thick slices of homemade sourdough bread is enough to warm the cockles on even the chilliest of nights when out and about, enjoying the crisp evenings and falling leaves.

Long and slow cooking and baking comes into its own at this time of year too.  When the need to leave the house dissolves with the falling rains, taking four hours to make Boston baked beans to be served with crispy baked potatoes and strong cheddar cheese no longer seems any effort at all.

Even our beverages are affected by the changing weather as spiced coffees and heady hot chocolates, mulled ciders and wintry wines start to appear in all the city’s drinking establishments.

So get out and enjoy the Autumn delights, go stomp through a chilly park and feed some cold geese. It won’t be long until the Christmas steam train rolls into town so enjoy the calm whilst it lasts!

The craze that is ‘Pumpkin Spice’ has crept into all forms of popular culture and has become a vital feature in all town centre restaurants and coffee houses. Commonly thought to actually contain pumpkin, this is actually a mistake as it instead refers to the cinnamon rich blend of spices normally used in pumpkin tarts and cakes.

These buttery rolls are filled with the heady, sticky spice mix that works perfectly against the saltiness of the pistachios. Make the spice mix up in double or triple batches and keep it in an airtight container to be added to hot chocolates, no need to travel to an expensive coffee shop!

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For the Dough

250g strong bread flour

30g golden caster sugar

50g soft unsalted butter

7g fresh yeast

5g salt

1 large free range egg – beaten

150ml full fat milk – heated to lukewarm

For the Pumpkin Spice filling

3tbsp ground cinnamon

2tsp ground ginger

2tsp ground nutmeg

1 ½ tsp ground allspice

1 ½ tsp ground cloves

200g golden caster sugar

100g unsalted butter – melted

40g unshelled pistachios – roughly chopped

100g apricot jam – to glaze

In a large bowl add all the dry ingredients for the dough, making sure to keep the salt and yeast separate from each other.

Add the egg then slowly add the milk whilst working the dough together with either a stand mixer or your clean hands until you have a rough dough. You may not need all the milk.

Knead the dough for 10mins by hand or 8mins in a stand mixer on low. Cover with a little vegetable oil and cover the bowl with cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise for 1.5 hours.

Grease and line a 10” square tin with baking paper.

Once risen, tip onto a well-floured work surface and knead to knock the air out. Roll out to a rectangle 12” by 9” before brushing with the melted butter.

Combine the ground spices with the sugar, mixing well to make sure it is evenly distributed. Sprinkle over the melted butter followed by the chopped pistachios.

Roll the dough up lengthways into a tube then cut into nine equal portions. Place each bun onto the prepared baking tin, place the tin into a carrier bag and leave to rise again for another 45mins. Pre-heat the oven to 180c.

Once risen, bake for 20mins until golden brown. Cover with a sheet of baking paper at the 15min mark if they are browning too quickly.

Whilst baking, place the jam and a little water into a saucepan and heat to combine. Once the buns are removed from the oven, immediately brush with the jam glaze.

Leave to cool on a baking tray before consuming so the sugar has a chance to cool. Drizzle with a little coloured icing for a nice presentation.

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