If there are two times of the year when you can be guaranteed to find a block of marzipan in my cupboard, it’s Easter and Christmas. I invariably buy a block with grand ideas of all the seasonal baking I’m going to do. Then the packet gets opened and little by little, chunks get torn off, to be nibbled on as a surreptitious snack until suddenly there is nowhere near enough left to consider baking and I shamelessly devour the rest.
So I feel very smug about the fact that I managed to get these buns into existence at all. I can’t say there was zero marzipan snaffling going on, but enough made it into these buns. These are a sort of cross between a cinnamon bun and a chelsea bun with a marzipan core. I considered using a laminated danish pastry recipe for these, but, even though we have a long bank holiday weekend ahead, I didn’t feel the need to spend the time doing book folds in pastry. A simple enriched yeasted dough, fairly quick to rise, will mean that you can have these ready in a couple of hours, perfect with a mid-morning coffee.
This is a sort of winter version of one of my summer favourites – pan con tomate. At this time of year I want something warm to eat and the tomatoes in the shops can be in need of a little help to bring out the best in them.
Normally I shy away from anything sweet and sour; too many dodgy takeaways making it synonymous with gloopy luminous red sauce covering unidentifiable fried things and random chunks of pineapple. But a splash of sherry vinegar and a spoonful of sugar over some squashed fried tomatoes creates a delicious sticky glaze that will seep satisfyingly into a chewy slice of thick toast.
Toast a nice chunky slice of sourdough or similar bread and keep warm.
Pop a good knob of butter into a small frying pan with a whole clove of garlic and bring to a sizzle. Chop around 100-150g tomatoes into chunks – I only had cherry tomatoes in so I just halved them. Add to the pan and fry over a medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. When they begin to soften, give them a good squish with a fork then add a couple of teaspoons of sherry or balsamic vinegar and a couple of teaspoons of soft brown sugar. Allow to bubble away until thick and reduced.
Fish out the clove of garlic and discard. Add a little salt and pepper then pour over the bread. Sprinkle over a little thyme and eat.
Serves 1 as a light lunch. A poached egg on top would turn this into an excellent brunch too. Takes 10 minutes.
Around 150g tomatoes
A good chunky slice of bread
A knob of butter
1 clove garlic
2tsp sherry or balsamic vinegar
2tsp light brown sugar
a few thyme leaves