These swirly breakfast buns are delicately spiced and feature a satisfying spiral of apricots and walnuts, topped with the illusion of a fried egg.
Heat oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6.
Make the dough. In a small pan, gently warm the milk over a low heat to just above room temperature.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar and spices in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other.
Fit the stand mixer with a dough hook and add the warmed milk. Mix on medium speed until the dough comes together in a ball, then increase the speed to high and mix for 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Reduce the speed to medium again and, a few tablespoons at a time, add the melted butter, mixing well between each addition. Once all the butter has been added, mix on high for another 3–5 minutes until fully combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and transfer it to a lightly oiled mixing bowl. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise for about 1 hour, until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, make the fillings. For the spiced filling, mix the sugar, cinnamon and cardamon together in a small bowl and set aside.
For the fruit and nut filling, place the walnut pieces on a baking tray and toast them in the preheated oven for 8 minutes, shaking the tray halfway through, until the walnuts are lightly coloured. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Combine the chopped apricots with the mixed peel, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a mixing bowl. Chop the cooled walnuts and stir these through the fruit mixture in the bowl, too. Add the butter and mix to form a coarse paste. Set aside.
Tip out the risen dough on to a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to form large rectangle, approximately 30 x 40cm. Turn the dough so that a short end is closest to you.
Sprinkle the rectangle with the spice filling in an even layer and leaving a 5mm border on all sides. Press the filling into the dough lightly with your fingertips.
Fold the bottom third of the dough rectangle upwards over the middle third, and then the top third down to cover it, as if you were folding a business letter. Turn the dough through 90° and roll it out to a 30 x 40cm rectangle again, this time with a long edge closest to you.
Spread the fruit and nut filling over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1cm border on all sides. Be gentle so as not to tear the dough.
Using a pastry brush, wet the top edge of the dough with water, then, starting from the bottom, gently roll the dough away from you to create a log, as you would a Swiss roll. When you reach the end, gently roll and turn the log so that the seam is on the underside.
Using a serrated knife, trim 1cm off both ends of the log and discard the trimmings. Then, cut along the log to create 12 equal-sized rounds. Place 6 rounds on each of the lined baking trays, spiral side upwards and transfer the baking trays to a proving bag (or any clean plastic bag) and leave to prove for 1 hour, until risen. Towards the end of the proving time, heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°F/Gas 7.
Use a pastry brush to carefully glaze the risen buns all over with the beaten egg. Place the baking sheets in the oven to bake the buns for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/Gas 6 and bake them for a further 20 minutes, until dark golden. Remove from the oven and transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the topping. Gently heat the apricot jam in a small saucepan over a low heat until just bubbling. Pass the hot jam through a sieve into a bowl and set it aside until you’re ready to use.
Sift the icing sugar into a medium bowl, add the vanilla extract and then gradually add about 3 tablespoons of water, mixing between each addition until you have a thick but pipeable icing (you may need a few more drops of water). Spoon the icing into the piping bag.
To prepare the ‘egg yolks’, drain the apricot halves and dry them with a tea towel. Place each half dome side up and use a serrated knife to cut through it horizontally, so you have a smaller yolk-sized piece. Set all the ‘yolks’ aside until you’re ready to use (eat the trimmings).
Once the buns have cooled, use a pastry brush to glaze the top of each one with the apricot jam.
Snip a small hole in the piping bag and pipe the icing over each bun in a circular motion working from the outside in towards the centre, and leaving a slight border around the edge. The aim is to make this look like the ‘white’ of a fried egg. Place an apricot yolk on top of each pool of icing to look like the yolk and you’re ready to serve.