Friday, January 06, 2023


When we think back to our childhood, we think about all those big dreams we had, all those things we wished to be once we grew up. Since as far back as I can remember, I wanted to cook and bake. One of my first actual memories is of me play-pretending to make lunch, and the joy and pride I felt, tearing those little papers, and putting them into a tiny pink bowl I decided to serve the said lunch in.
That exact feeling is still with me, especially when I bake.
Growing up, I was in awe of how people can simply bake a loaf of bread, or maybe make a cake, a big cake, even; and that is what I wanted to learn, when I grew up.
Some time ago, I realised that I am living my childhood dream, that I can simply make a loaf of bread, a big cake, anything I want. Anytime I want. The feeling of independence and liberty is worth far beyond anything else I can think of.
These little rolls were what caused the realisation to happen, actually. How quickly the dough comes together, how smoothly the filling spreads on top, and how wonderful they are to enjoy, with a cup of coffee. Everything that I wanted to be able to create as a child, I can safely say, these rolls embody.
Wonderfully soft dough and an amazing Nutella filling, enhanced with espresso powder and ground cinnamon, all wrapped and rolled up in a sweet little parcel.
They are best served warm, with a cup of espresso, or a tall glass of cold milk.

For the soft vanilla dough
300 grams plain flour
100 grams strong bread flour
250 millilitres warm water
30 millilitres vegetable oil
20 grams fresh yeast
25 grams granulated sugar
10 grams salt
For the Nutella espresso filling
150 grams Nutella, or any chocolate hazelnut spread
100 grams toasted hazelnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon

Take a medium bowl, crumble in the fresh yeast, add in the granulated sugar and the warm water, mix well, and set it aside for about 10 minutes so the yeast can activate. Meanwhile, sift the flours into a large bowl, add in the salt, and blend well. Once the yeast is ready, make a little well in the centre of the flour, pour in the yeast, as well as the oil, and mix with a wooden spoon until a very soft dough forms.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it by hand for about 5 minutes or so, until it becomes supple and smooth. If it is sticking too much to your hands or the surface, feel free to add a bit more flour, so it is manageable. Place the kneaded dough into a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel, and let it rise for about an hour, in a warm spot.
When the dough is ready, take the softened Nutella, and mix it well with the instant espresso powder and the ground cinnamon. Take the risen dough out of the bowl and knead it gently, and then roll it out into a long rectangle. Spread the Nutella all over the dough, making sure you leave one edge free, to seal the roll.
Sprinkle the chopped hazelnuts evenly, and roll the dough up, starting from the shorter side, so the rolls are nice and tall. Arrange them in a rectangular baking pan (20x20 cm), lined with baking parchment, cover them with a clean cloth, and let them rest and rise for about 30 minutes. Bake them in a preheated oven, at 200˚C, for about 12-15 minutes, or until evenly browned. Serve immediately. Yields 9 rolls.

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