This warm and gooey twist on a classic never tasted so good.
Labneh has become quite commonplace for those of us living in the Middle East. However, this ubiquitous, luscious, and creamy dip that we've grown to love boasts a history as rich as its texture, having originated in the Levant region of the Middle East thousands of years ago.
Labneh is created by placing yogurt in cheesecloth and straining out the whey, resulting in a silky, thick texture. It is often used fresh as a spread. However, as it ages, labneh transforms into a cheese-like substance with a firm bite and sharp taste. At this point, it is often rolled into balls and preserved in oil.
While we're accustomed to ordering it in our za’atar man'ousheh from the local bakery, or as part of a quintessential mezze meal, labneh is an incredibly versatile ingredient. It can be used in many sweet and savory recipes, with its creamy texture adding a lovely tang and fluffiness to cakes and loaf breads.
In this recipe, Savoir Flair has utilized labneh as the filling for a tart. The labneh is combined with eggs, vanilla, and sugar, and, once baked, creates a heavenly custard-like flavor and texture. The rhubarb compote on top balances the richness of the dish with a sweet tartness that complements the creamy labneh, while ground almonds form the crust, adding an oh-so-delicious nutty bite.
Cinnamon Bun with Date Caramel
TOTAL TIME210 MINUTES
For the Buns:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 packet instant yeast
- 1 cup whole milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- ½ tsp salt
For the Filling:
- ⅓ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- ¼ tsp vanilla powder
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 beaten egg, whisked with ¼ cup of milk
- pearl sugar
- 10 dates, pitted
- ¾ cup warm water, more if needed
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ tsp sea salt
Heat the milk and butter in a saucepan on medium-low heat until the butter is melted, and then set aside. In a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix together the flour, cinnamon, sugar, and yeast. Add in the milk and butter mixture, vanilla paste, salt, and egg, and let the dough come together on low speed for eight to ten minutes. It should form quite easily into a ball.
If you don’t have a stand mixer, add the flour, cinnamon, sugar, and yeast together in a large mixing bowl. Add in the milk and butter mixture, vanilla paste, salt, and egg, and mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon until combined. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead with your hands for seven to ten minutes until the dough comes together into a ball.
Transfer the dough ball into an oiled bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave in a warm place on your counter to rise for about one hour.
In the meantime, make the filling by mixing together the softened butter, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, vanilla powder, and salt in a bowl. It should resemble the consistency of a paste. Set aside.
After an hour, the dough should have doubled in size. Transfer it to a floured surface and roll it out into a 35x35cm square-ish shape. Next, evenly spread the filling all over the dough.
Fold the square into thirds (like a business letter) and roll it into a 35x20cm rectangle shape. Next, cut the dough into strips that are approximately two centimeters wide and twist them. Take one end of the strip and coil it around your three fingers (index, middle, and ring) and then wrap the end underneath the bun.
Place the buns on a lined baking tray, cover with a kitchen towel, and leave to rise for another 50 minutes. After the buns have risen, preheat the oven to 350°F/176°C. Brush each bun with the egg wash and sprinkle the pearl sugar on top. Bake the buns in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Let them cool for five minutes before serving with a dollop of date caramel.
For the date caramel, blitz the dates, warm water, vanilla extract, and sea salt in a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend for about 60 to 90 seconds until the consistency of a thick, sticky paste is achieved. If the dates are too dry, add more water to get them moving and soft.