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Friday, August 28, 2009

Warm and Gooey Cinnamon Buns

In the whirlwind of life, it’s easy to overlook the small things that make it beautiful…like a deliciously sweet bite of nectarine, a small dainty flower by the sidewalk, the sun on your face or a crunchy piece of toast drizzled with clover honey. It’s nice to find things to look forward to, things that make you happy and think “Oh yes, life is good.”

One of the things that makes me happy is weekend brunch – it’s one of my favorite meals to eat, and to cook (probably because there is generally a fair amount of baking involved). I like to host brunches too - they offer a nice space to catch up with friends and enjoy a bit of a slow and lazy afternoon.

Freshly baked, ooey-gooey Cinnamon Buns are a happy addition to a brunch table…the smell of the sweet cinnamon and slight yeastiness in the air is satisfying and cozy.

Cinnamon Buns are great for so many reasons…including the fact that you can make them the night before, and then just pop them into the oven the next day (which means you get to sleep in!).

The dough for these Cinnamon Buns is one of my favorite breakfast breads…it’s lighter than a brioche but still tastes rich and buttery, and it’s incredibly versatile.

You can fill the breakfast dough (or not) with whatever you want, perhaps a filling with a bit of strawberry rhubarb jam and almonds sounds good to you…or maybe a poppy seed filling with an apricot glaze. Whatever you fancy, this is one of those things you'll look forward to.

Warm and Gooey Cinnamon Buns

(adapted from Cindy Mushett)

1/2 cup warm milk, 110-115 degrees (I used 1% milk, but you can use whatever you have)
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast or 1 1/8 teaspoons instant yeast
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, very soft (not melted)

1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon warm water

1. Mix and Knead the Dough - Combine warm milk and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Whisk by hand to blend well. Let the mixture sit for 5 - 10 minutes, until the yeast is activated. Add the egg and yolk and whisk by hand until well blended. Stir in the flour and salt with a silicone spatula. Attach the dough hook and knead on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough may look ragged at this point but don't worry - it will smooth out when the butter is added. Increase the speed to medium and knead for 1 minute. With the mixer running, add the soft butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to blend in before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, decrease the speed to medium-low and continue to knead for 5-6 minutes longer, until the dough looks soft and silky.

2. Rise the Dough (First Rise) - Lightly butter or oil a tub or bowl, scrape the dough in and then brush the surface of the dough with a little butter or oil. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

3. Roll the Dough - Dust your work surface with flour. Turn the risen dough out of the tub or bowl onto the flour. Press down firmly with your hands to expel as much of the gas as possible, but don't knead the dough or the gluten will be too developed for the dough to roll easily. Dust the top of the dough with flour. Roll the dough into a 10x16 inch rectangle. Position the dough so that one of the long sides is parallel to the edge of your work surface. Brush any remaining flour from the surface and underside of the dough.

4. Make the Filling - Place the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of the stand mixer and blend on medium speed until the mixture is smooth and slightly lightened, 2-3 minutes. Scrap down the bowl. Use a silicone spatula to spread the filling over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border along the long side opposite you.

5. Shape the Buns - Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder, gently tucking and tightening as you roll. Wet your fingers and rub a thing film of water along the empty border. Finish rolling the dough into the border. Roll the dough backwards so the seam is facing upward and pinch all along it to seal the dough. Turn the seam side down and use a chef's knife to cut the roll into 10 equal pieces. Set each bun with a cut side up on your work surface and gently flatten it slightly with the palm of your hand. Place the buns into a lightly buttered 10" round cake pan, spacing them evenly.

6. Proof the dough (Second Rise) - Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cotton towel and set aside to rise until the rolls have almost doubled in size, 45-60 minutes.

7. Bake the Buns - Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Bake the buns for 30-35 minutes, until the buns are deep golden brown and the center register 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Transfer to a cooling rack.

8. Make the Glaze - In a medium bowl, stir the confectioners sugar and warm water vigorously with a silicone spatula until there are no lumps remaining, adding a few more drops of water if needed. Use a fork to drizzle the glaze over the warm buns. Then, enjoy!

1 comment:

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