Benjamina Ebuehi’s recipe for spiced apple and rum buns

These buns are my autumnal spin on those classic Swedish cardamom buns that I can never resist. Fluffy, twisty knots layered with three of my favourite things: butter, sugar and spice. A generous brush of spiced rum syrup not only gives them the most beautiful sticky shine, but it also keeps the buns soft for days, meaning they’re just as good for an indulgent breakfast a day or so later.

Spiced apple and rum buns
Prep 1 hr
Prove 1 hr 30 min
Cook 30 min
Makes 12

For the dough
280ml whole milk
75g unsalted butter
½ tsp ground cardamom
500g strong white bread flour
7g fast-action dried yeast
80g caster sugar
1½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 large egg, plus extra, beaten, to glaze

For the filling
4 eating apples (eg braeburn), unpeeled
70g caster sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
A squeeze of lemon juice
100g unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt

For the rum syrup
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
60ml spiced rum
Pearl sugar, optional

To make the dough, heat the milk, butter and cardamom in a small saucepan until the butter has melted, then take off the heat and set aside to cool a little. Put the flour, yeast, sugar, ginger and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, with the yeast and salt on opposite sides.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the cooled milk and one egg. Knead on low speed for five to seven minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for one to two hours, or until nearly doubled in size.

To make the filling, grate the apples (no need to peel) into a saucepan and add 30g sugar, the cornflour and lemon juice. Heat gently for four to six minutes, until the apples have softened, then set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, mix the softened butter with the remaining sugar, cinnamon, ginger and salt.

Once the dough has risen, knock it back and turn out on to a lightly floured surface. Roll out to a large 35cm x 45cm rectangle, spread over the spiced butter and top with an even layer of the apple mixture.

Fold the dough in half from one of the long sides, then use a sharp knife to cut into 12 strips. Holding the ends of one strip in each hand, twist the dough in opposite directions before wrapping it around your index and middle fingers and tucking the ends underneath. Repeat with the remaining dough strips, and put the twisted buns on two large baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, leaving a few inches between them. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to prove for 20-30 minutes, until puffy. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5.

Brush the buns all over with beaten egg, then bake for 25–30 minutes until deeply golden. While the buns are baking, make the syrup. Put the sugar, vanilla and 90ml water in a small pan, bring to a boil, then simmer for a minute before taking off the heat and stirring in the rum. Generously brush the baked buns with the rum syrup, top with pearl sugar, if using, then leave to cool completely before serving.