12 Days of Cooking: Sticky Walnut Rolls

Remember when I said to come back here on the 9th for 12 days of holiday cooking? Well, I couldn't wait, so here is Day 1! Basically, December = Christmas for me. Yes, the whole month.

The funny thing is every year, I have the same, unshakeable image of my ideal Christmas - I have never once in my life had anything close to this. It involves, bizarrely, being in New York, in a apartment with the fire going, listening to jazz, looking down on Times Square and drinking champagne. This is what a lifetime of watching movies has done to me.

But on top of this, my fantasy Christmas expands to other times. And I think breakfast is a huge part of that, right? Opening presents in your pyjamas, etc. This recipe is perfect for that - you can basically hold it in one hand, leaving the other free to tear wrapping paper open. The way I do it is to prepare the dough and the filling the night before, roll it into its little circles, leave in the fridge overnight to rise and bake in the morning!

Seriously one of the best things to wake up to. And look, it's Christmas, so instead of your regular coffee why don't you live it up with a hot chocolate. The diet can wait till January.

Sticky Walnut Rolls
Makes about 16

For the dough:
500g strong white flour
7g (one sachet) fast-action dried yeast
300ml whole milk
40g unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
200g walnuts, chopped - I do most finely chopped and then some bigger chunks for crunch
100g butter
200g dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon cinnamon
(optional: zest of 1 orange)

For the glaze:
100g dark brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tablespoon water

First, start making the dough:
In a large bowl, mix the flour with the salt. Make a well in the middle and tip the yeast in. Meanwhile, heat up the milk with the butter until the butter has just melted, and the milk is lukewarm. [If you've got a thermometer, it should be between 35 and 45 degrees celsius]

Tip the warm milk into the flour and yeast and stir to combine. Tip out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough feels elastic and smooth is no longer wet or sticky. If it's too sticky, knead more flour in, a tablespoon at a time.

Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, coating with the oil. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest in a warm place for an hour, till it has doubled in size.

Next, make the filling:
Put all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stir until butter has melted and everything is well combined. Put aside. Don't do this too long before your dough is ready or it could solidify.

Put everything together:
Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a rectangle about 1cm thick. Spread the filling over it, leaving a small margin all around so it doesn't leak out. Next, carefully roll the dough up into a tight bundle. Slice into rounds about 4cm thick. Place them horizontally on a buttered baking tray. Don't squish them together, because they'll need room to rise in the fridge.

At this point I leave the tray of rolls, covered in clingfilm, overnight in the fridge to rise. But if you want to bake them on the same day, just leave in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.

Bake the rolls and glaze them:
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees C. Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes, till they've risen and are golden brown on the outside.

While they're baking, prepare the glaze by simmering all the ingredients in a saucepan over low heat till they form a thick syrup.

Let the rolls cool slightly and then brush with the glaze. MMMMMMM

SarahChristmas, DessertComment