Spiced Walnut Buns

How are you enjoying the chill? We’ve just enjoyed a spell of unusually warm weather (the warmest Halloween for many years), and then, almost overnight, temperatures plummeted. Last weekend we were sitting in the sunshine, this morning I woke up to frost on the lawn! It is starting to feel that winter really is coming, and alongside the colder weather, we also had that other seasonal signal where the skies of Britain were lit up with fireworks.

Yes, Bonfire Night! I do love it, but my two poor cats heard all those bangs outside, and scuttled into cosy corners under radiators until the noise had abated. This for me really does say that winter is just around the corner, but this time of year does have the fringe benefit of allowing you to gather outside and share your attempts to keep warm, from getting toasty hands around the fire, to spicy snacks and hot drinks (which may or may not contain a tot of rum for more mature firework-gazers). Or in my case, this delicious batch of spicy, sticky walnut buns!


This was my contribution to a fireworks party, and I was originally thinking of making them with some sort of fruit. I’ve been having a “pear affair” in the last few weeks, but I wasn’t sure that their delicate flavour would be so good in these buns. Then I remembered that I had a huge bag of walnuts that I was given by my friend Nargis from a trip abroad. A few weeks ago, I had spent an afternoon opening them with a pair of nutcrackers. Alas, my aim of opening perfect walnuts like those trained squirrels from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory came to almost nothing – of the 150 or so I had to open, only one whole! The rest ended up in different stages of disintegration. Maybe not so pretty, but perfect for baking, and the flavour of freshly-shelled nuts really is magnificent.


Again, I have just used my standard and dependable bun recipe, with a little brown sugar in the dough, but they were packed with lots and lots of walnuts. I chopped them up, some very finely and others left in larger chunks, as I quite like a nut filling that seems like nuts, rather than just being some sort of a soft paste. For the spice, I wanted something more complex and warming that just cinnamon, so added some garam masala spice mixture, which worked beautifully with the nuts.

Once they were baked, they got a brown sugar glaze to keep the soft, and they were finished with a light coating of water icing. As there is not too much sugar in the dough, they are not actually too sweet, but they did look rather pretty, the icing suggesting the frost that has finally arrived.


To make Spiced Walnut Buns (makes 12):

For the filling:

• 70g butter, soft
• 70g soft brown sugar
• 2 teaspoons mixed spice (I used garam masala)
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 2 tablespoons milk
• 1 tablespoon plain flour

1. Mix everything until smooth.

For the glaze:

• 50g soft brown sugar
• 50ml water

1. Put the sugar and water into a small saucepan. Bring to the boil for about a minute.

For the icing:

• 200g icing sugar
• 3 tablespoons boiling water

1. Whisk the icing sugar and hot water until smooth (do this just before using).

For the dough:

• 2 teaspoons instant yeast
• 50g brown sugar
• 60g butter
• 150ml milk, scalded and cooled
• 1 egg
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 generous teaspoon cinnamon or mixed spice
• 325g strong white flour
• 150g walnuts, roughly chopped

1a. If using a bread machine: put everything except the walnuts into the mixing bowl. Run the “dough” cycle. Simples!

1b. If making by hand: put the flour and butter into a bowl, and rub with your fingers until the butter has been incorporated. Fold in the salt, sugar, mixed spice and yeast. In a separate bowl, combine the milk and the egg, then pour into the dry ingredients. Stir with a spoon, then work with your hands until you have a smooth, stretchy, silky dough (at least 5 minutes). Leave the dough a warm place for an hour until the dough has doubled in size. Knock back and knead again for 2-3 minutes.

2. Once the dough is ready, turn it onto a floured surface. Roll into the largest rectangle you can. Spread with the filling, sprinkle with the walnuts, then roll up into a sausage. Use a sharp knife to cut into 12 slices.

3. Lay each slice, cut face up, on a bun case. Cover with cling film or a damp teacloth and leave to rise for at least an hour until doubled in size.

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. If they are browning too quickly, cover loosely with tin foil.

5. When the buns are done, remove from the oven and brush them while still warm with the hot glaze.

6. Once the buns are cooled, make the icing and brush over the buns.

Worth making? These were fantastic – you’ll go nutty over these nutty treats!


Filed under Recipe, Sweet Things

30 responses to “Spiced Walnut Buns

  1. Cynthia

    Mmm, they sound delicious. I have a variety of whole nuts, still in the shell. They have been hanging around for a while, as I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, but this may be their destiny.

    • Hi Cynthia – I think you could happily use any sorts of nuts in this recipe, so I say go for it! If you’re using hazelnuts or almonds, you might want to lightly toast them beforehand for more flavour, as the buns are not in the oven for too long. If you’re using hazelnuts, perhaps add some chocolate chips for a Nutella-like experience 🙂

  2. Oh bonfire night, so much fun. I wish it was celebrated in Australia as well! I wish I could have come to your party just for one of these delicious little morsels 😛

  3. They look so beautiful – perfect with a cup of strong coffee.

  4. Yum! Definitely going to give these a go!

  5. kellylouisadickinson

    These look amazing! Will definitely be trying them, thanks for the recipe!

  6. These look absolutely delicious, perfect for any bonfire shenanigans.

  7. afoxinthekitchen

    ooooh these sound fab!! I just love nuts!

  8. Absolutely lovely! Ostriche

  9. Yummy!! These look insane! I want these now! 🙂

  10. These look so yummy – I love that you got the layers thin, and the swirls so tight. I made similar chocolate cinnamon rolls lately but while they tasted delicious, they didn’t come out half as prettily as yours!

    • Thanks! I make a lot of buns, so I think it is just a matter of trying, trying, trying (and of course eating, eating, eating). I used to go with thicker dough, but now I roll it out as thin as I can…it also means that you can pack in more filling 🙂 I like your idea of the chocolate cinnamon buns too.

  11. hmmm.. yummy,, yummy… that’s very delicious… 🙂

  12. Hi Russell, I though I’d share with you.. I was going to try making these buns for ages. Finally I did it, just a few hours ago, and Im SO pleased with the result. I’m not so great with the yeast dough, but this time I followed recipe closely and had no trouble, buns raised wonderfully and taste AMAZING! Will definitely make these again. Thanks for posting the recipe. 🙂

    • Thanks Yana – glad that they worked for you (I always get nervous when someone tells me they are making a recipe in case it doesn’t work!). I use the same dough for all sorts of buns – cinnamon, raising etc. Happy baking!

  13. Pingback: Spiced Buns with Walnuts | the usual ingredients

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