The month is quickly coming to an end and that means it's Daring Baker time again. The group has already survived ten other monthly challenges to date and for this month's recipe, hostess Marce of Pip in the City chose Peter Reinhart's cinnamon buns and/or sticky buns. I've never made cinnamon or sticky buns before. And I haven't baked with yeast since I made bagels for the June DB challenge (which also happened to be the very first time I've ever used yeast). So I'm glad Marce picked a yeasted recipe. We could make cinnamon buns or sticky buns or both. I chose to make just cinnamon buns.
A couple things worried me right off the bat. For some reason I thought the recipe called for active dry yeast but upon re-reading the ingredients I realized that it said instant yeast. Since I didn't want to run to the store, I hoped the recipe would work fine with the active dry yeast. I used about a third more active dry yeast than amount of instant yeast required.
I wasn't sure if just adding the yeast granules straight into the mixing bowl with the sugar, butter, egg, flour and buttermilk would work. Maybe it's a misconception of mine, but I thought I had to let yeast sit in some warm water for about 5-10 minutes before using it. But since I'm inexperienced with yeast, I just followed the recipe and added it as instructed. I kept my fingers crossed.
I decided to let my Kitchen Aid stand mixer do the kneading for me. During the 10 minute knead, the dough was getting slapped around in the bowl pretty loudly. My stand mixer even slightly moved around the counter top from the force. I hope that's normal when kneading dough with a KA. Otherwise I'm giving KA customer service a call. After 10 minutes the dough was exactly as the recipe said it should be - silky and supple, tacky but not sticky.
While my dough was kneading, I warmed my oven to 150F then turned it off so that I could use it to proof my dough. I put my bowl of dough in the oven and hoped it would rise. It didn't rise too much during the first hour but rose very quickly during the second hour. It had doubled in size in exactly two hours. Yippee!
Rolling out the dough was so much easier than I expected. It wasn't sticky so I hardly needed any flour for the rolling pin and the marble top. The dough was elastic but never "snapped" back when I was rolling it out. My only issue was that I couldn't quite get my dough rolled into a rectangle (just like I can never roll my tart/pie dough into a circle). But I decided to just trim off the ragged ends after filling and rolling it into a log. I must say that I loved working with this dough. I used my oven again for the second rise and it went off without a hitch. Then a quick bake and voila – cinnamon buns! There is nothing like a warm cinnamon bun fresh from the oven. They were absolutely delicious!
By the way, I cut back on the volume of milk and made the white fondant glaze with meyer lemon juice since I didn't have any lemon extract. Also, the recipe made an enormous amount of glaze. Even if I dunked all the cinnamon buns in glaze and covered every centimeter of bun, I wouldn't have been able to use up all of it. The lemon juice really helped to cut the sweetness in the glaze and also complemented the meyer lemon zest in the dough. I also decreased the amount of cinnamon in the filling. Thanks to Marce and the Daring Bakers, I now have a great keeper recipe. I will definitely make these buns again.
I was trying to get a photo of the cinnamon inside the bun, but someone got in the way! If you'd like to see what my cat Hobie does when he's not stealing food, check out this video. Sometimes you have to press play twice. I'm trying out Google video. I hope it works.
Cinnamon Buns and Sticky Buns
(from Peter Reinhart´s The Bread Baker´s Apprentice)
Yield: Makes 8 to 12 large or 12 to 16 smaller cinnamon or sticky buns
6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) unsalted butter
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast*
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk
Cinnamon Sugar Filling:
6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
For cinnamon buns:
1 recipe for white fondant glaze
For sticky buns:
1 recipe for caramel glaze
walnuts, pecans, or other nuts
raisins or other dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or dried cherries (optional)
*Instant yeast contains about 25% more living cells per spoonful than active dry yeast, regardless of the brand. Instant yeast is also called rapid-rise or fast-rising.
1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand). Whip in the egg and lemon zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed (or stir by hand) until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes (or knead by hand for 12 to 15 minutes), or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Make filling by combining the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Proceed to fill and roll the dough as follows:
(A) Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don´t roll out the dough too thin or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump.
(B)Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough.
(C) Roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.
4. For cinnamon buns, line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they aren't touching but are close to one another.
For sticky buns, coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes or baking pans with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with a 1/4 inch layer of the caramel glaze. Sprinkle on the nuts and raisins (if you are using raisins or dried fruit.) You do not need a lot of nuts and raisins, only a sprinkling. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.
5. Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. You may also retard the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.
6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack in the middle shelf for cinnamon buns but on the lowest shelf for sticky buns.
7. Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes or the sticky buns 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown. If you are baking sticky buns, remember that they are really upside down (regular cinnamon buns are baked right side up), so the heat has to penetrate through the pan and into the glaze to caramelize it. The tops will become the bottoms, so they may appear dark and done, but the real key is whether the underside is fully baked. It takes practice to know just when to pull the buns out of the oven.
8. For cinnamon buns, cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the buns are warm but not too hot. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving. For the sticky buns, cool the buns in the pan for 5 to 10 minutes and then remove them by flipping them over into another pan. Carefully scoop any run-off glaze back over the buns with a spatula. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.
White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns
Cinnamon buns are usually topped with a thick white glaze called fondant. There are many ways to make fondant glaze, but here is a delicious and simple version, enlivened by the addition of citrus flavor, either lemon or orange. You can also substitute vanilla extract or rum extract, or simply make the glaze without any flavorings.
Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.
When the buns have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops. Or, form the streaks by dipping your fingers in the glaze and letting it drip off as you wave them over the tops of the buns. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)
Caramel glaze for sticky buns
Caramel glaze is essentially some combination of sugar and fat, cooked until it caramelizes. The trick is catching it just when the sugar melts and lightly caramelizes to a golden amber. Then it will cool to a soft, creamy caramel. If you wait too long and the glaze turns dark brown, it will cool to a hard, crack-your-teeth consistency. Most sticky bun glazes contain other ingredients to influence flavor and texture, such as corn syrup to keep the sugar from crystallizing and flavor extracts or oils, such as vanilla or lemon.
NOTE: you can substitute the corn syrup for any neutral flavor syrup, like cane syrup or gold syrup.
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.
2. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
3. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.