Whirlybuns, 11p

These little weighty wistful whirls of whimsy came about entirely by accident. I was going to stay with friends in Manchester for the weekend, to all fling our small boys at one another for a raucous time, and I never like to accept hospitality empty handed. So, I set about making a hulking great fruit bread big enough to energise 3 grown men, 3 grown women, and 3 small and boisterous boys.

I mixed it, kneaded it, left it to rise…and promptly forgot all about it until I was halfway across the country. Bollocks.

I came home to find it fermenting beautifully, tickling the top of the teatowel flung over the top of it. I gave it a ginger sniff, it smelled a lot like sourdough. Vaguely remembering a yoghurt based bread I had made a few years ago, I figured it would be fine, and whipped it into these whirlybuns. J and A, here’s what you coulda had… Sorry!

Makes a dozen pleasingly enormous buns at 11p each

750g plain flour, 28p (55p/1.5kg/Basics)

500g yoghurt, 55p (55p/500g, Basics natural yoghurt or £1/500g, Alpro dairy free yoghurt)

up to 100ml warm water

1 tbsp sunflower oil, 2p (£3/3l)

13g dried active yeast, 10p (£1/125g)

100g sultanas, 20p (£1/500g, Basics)

2 tbsp sunflower oil, 3p (£3/3l)

2 tsp cinnamon, 8p (80p/100g, Natco or KTC)

2 tbsp sugar, 2p (80p/1kg, Fairtrade)
First grab the largest mixing bowl you can find, and weigh and pour the flour into it. These are dense, clunky buns, so there is no need to sift the flour. Just fling it in.

Make a well in the centre as best you can, and slop the yoghurt into it, and shake in the fruit. Mix firmly to form a stiff dough. Some cheap yoghurts are quite sloppy, so this step should come easy, but if not try using a knife instead of a spoon to mix it. The smooth flat edges of the knife act in a similar way to an industrial dough hook, and give a generally better result. Don’t worry about this stage being too perfect, as there is more to come.

Take a mug and fill with 100ml of warm water. It should be just warmish, too hot and you run the risk of killing off the poor yeast granules. Add the yeast and mix well, and leave to stand for a few minutes until it starts to bubble up – this is your yeast waking up from its slumber, and never fails to amaze me! Tip it into the bigger bowl and add the oil and a pinch of salt, and mix until well combined.

Heavily flour your work surface and tip the dough onto it. Rub oil onto your hands to stop the dough from sticking to it, and knead it well for around 10 minutes. Push it away from you with your knuckles or palm, fold it back towards you, turn it a quarter turn, and repeat. You’ll find your own way of doing it, but it’s therapeutic and fascinating as you feel the dough literally take life beneath your hands. This is a heavy dough, so it will take some work; you can split it in half if you find it easier to work with smaller chunks.

When you’re satisfied that you have pummelled it enough, put it to bed in the original mixing bowl, and cover with a clean teatowel or clingfilm. Pop it in a warm place for 3 hours (or longer – mine hung around for 3 days remember…)

When you’re ready, tip it back onto a heavily floured surface. Give it a quick 30 second knead to push it back into shape but not so much as to knock the air out of it. 

Cut the dough into four equal sized pieces, and set three to one side. Take one of the quarters and cut into three. Now, pay attention.

Roll one of the pieces (1/12 of your original dough) into a long sausage shape about two inches thick and as long as it gets. Take a rolling pin (or wine bottle…) and roll it longways to flatten it. Then fold in half horizontally to make a long, skinny piece of dough. It’s less work than I’m making it sound, honest! And well worth it, trust me. 

Now take a small mug or bowl, and mix the cinnamon, sugar and 2tbsp oil together. Using a pastry brush, teaspoon or your good trusty fingers, smear the sweet spicy oil across your dough. 

Roll it into a whirl by taking one end and rolling it up to the other. Tuck the outside end under the bottom of the bun, and gently pat it on the head to press it all together. 

Lightly grease a deep baking dish and pop your first bun into it and set aside. Now would be a good time to preheat your oven at 160C, and make sure the shelf is in the middle.

And repeat eleven times! Once you have the first one done, it’s a breeze, I promise. A sweet, sticky, Autumn spiced breeze.

When they’re done, pop them in the oven to bake for an hour. Allow them to cool before breaking one off for yourself, and digging in…

I have had these toasted with jam and (soya) cream today, smothered in butter icing, sliced and toasted, plain, and I have a dozen left…

However you have them, enjoy them! They are deliberately not sweetened, so could be a vehicle for cheese and chutney if that’s your bag, too…


Jack Monroe

Twitter: @BootstrapCook

Instagram: @MxJackMonroe

   My new book, Cooking on a Bootstrap, is now available to order HERE.

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  1. Blimey!you didn’t half pummel that dough if your bleeding knuckles are anything to go by! Mouthwatering. Off to make these for supper and beyond!

    • Ha – that’s a burn from the grill on my oven and I split it open in the last knead, my hands are a map of all my greatest recipes. Scars on my thumbs from minor stabbings, burns on every knuckle, and more…

  2. Very nice! Similar to cinnamon or “sticky buns” here in the US. However, yours exude healthy ingredients, and look absolutely lovely! Haven’t baked for years (am 70 and live alone) but might try this next time I visit my grandchildren. We can all put our hands in! By the way…I have to translate all the quantity of ingredients into US measures. Time consuming, but worth the effort. If your publisher is looking to do a version of your book for US sales, I would be very interested in “translating”. Have a lot of time on my hands, and would love to “bring you” across the pond. Many people here who can’t afford to eat healthy on near poverty incomes, and you have proven it is possible. Waiting happily for your book, and am serious about the “translation”.

  3. Oh my goodness, Jack, you are the best.

    You do such a great job as a cook and as a”fighter” for the right things and for those who cannot do it for themselves.

    And if I may say so, as a mum too. I don’t know you, but anybody that sees your little SB’s smile on the photos you post can tell how great you are with him.

    Don’t give up doing what you do so well Jack, don’t let the assholes win.

    Carolina. From Argentina, but living in France xxx

    Sent from my iPad


  4. Jack they look delicious, will be trying these out later this week as I’ve just made an apple sponge. When it’s gone I will give these a go. Thanks so much, you explain recipes so well, so easy to follow.

  5. Can’t wait to try these . U are ever the source of inspiration for my baking an keep my cooking passion alive with your ideas . This post came through after making my cheap Welsh cakes an your soda bread which I might add is the easiest and nicest soda bread I have made yet . Many thanks again jack 🙂

  6. Brilliant! Gonna have a go later this week. Retired from teaching in Hockley but still recommend your books and recipes to those off to fend for themselves at uni.

  7. Jack you are amazing. A true hero of our age. I would back you a hundred times, and wait forever, just to know that in some small way you’re aware of what an astonishing person you are, and how much I admire and look up to you.
    Personally, you have inspired me to follow my dream of creating a charity which provides free craft sets to those who are experiencing illness. I believe crafting (& cooking) helps healing. My little charity is now in its 4th month and we have sent out over 100 craft kits to hospices, organisations and individuals. Thankyou for being my inspiration, because of you 100 people have been able to craft. And I’m only just getting started.
    You will never know the impact of the ripple effect that you have created. Thankyou for existing.
    Bee x

  8. Could you freeze these before baking? I don’t have a dish big enough for all 12 but thinking ahead to making a batch for school day breakfasts?

  9. Me and my toddler has great fun making the dough this evening and will be rolling them and putting them into the oven tomorrow mirning!

  10. Love this..just been with a group of people and we had your chivkpea n tomato bread…loved it….my question is how long do the buns keep…thinking of making as a foodie gift

  11. Fantastic, thanks! Made a great batch with your recipe then tried to make another batch using Doves Farm gluten free flour, which failed miserably. Oh well!

  12. Hi! looking to be a little more environmentally friendly and looking to switch to vegan diet. I was recommended here from a zero waste group – happy to find you!
    My question – dairy free spread normally comes in plastic containers which is another thing I’m looking to avoid – can I switch the fats to oils? (I’ve had a quick look through your snack recipes some are fat based some are oil based)
    Thank you 🙂 x

    • You can try cooking fat free, too. There are fat replacers, such as apple purée, bean purées, pumpkin, courgettes. Also, vegetable fat, Trex, comes in a cardboard carton.

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