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Check out these buns!

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Making Julia Child’s French Bread for my first Daring Baker challenge peaked my interest in bread making. I had done it before, but didn’t have a lot of experience with it. I recently ordered Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, and I want to make bread baking a regular experience for me. I love the way bread smells while it is rising and baking in the kitchen and the feeling of having made something really delicious when it’s done. The nice thing about bread is that it is something David will eat. He loves bread, so he will gladly eat whatever I make. Weekends are a great time for me to make bread, so I am going to make an effort to try a new bread recipe from Peter Reinhart’s book each weekend (at least the ones where I don’t have to go out of town).

I had been wanting to make cinnamon rolls for a long time but had never gotten around to it. This weekend, I decided to go for it. This is the first Peter Reinhart recipe I have tried, and it was also the Daring Bakers challenge recipe for September 2007. This is now my go-to recipe for cinnamon roll. It was so good that there is no point in trying another recipe. The dough was very easy to work with. I loved the cinnamon sugar and the glaze on top. It made for the perfect cinnamon roll! As David was getting into his first cinnamon roll last night he said, “This is how dessert should be.” This recipe can be used for either cinnamon rolls or sticky buns.


Cinnamon and Sticky Buns

(from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)

Days to Make: One (1)
Active/Resting/Baking Time: 15 minutes to mix, 3 1/2 hours fermentation/shaping/proofing, 20 – 40 minutes to bake
Recipe Quantity: Eight(1) – twelve (12) large rolls or twelve (12) – sixteen (16) small rolls

Making the Dough

Ingredients:

  • 6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter or margarine (I used shortening)
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon (I omitted this)
  • 3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur bread flour)
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast*
  • 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature OR 3 tablespoons powdered milk (DMS) and 1 cup water (I used buttermilk)
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, or any other spices you want to use, cardamom, ginger, allspice, etc.)
  • White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns or caramel glaze for sticky buns (at the end of the recipe.)
  • Walnuts, pecans, or other nuts (for sticky buns.)
  • Raisins or other dried fruit, such as dried cranberries or dried cherries (for sticky buns, 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.

Step 1 – Making the Dough: Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand).

Note: if you are using powdered milk, cream the milk with the sugar, and add the water with the flour and yeast.

Whip in the egg and lemon extract/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.

Step 2 – Fermentation: Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Step 3 – Form the Buns: Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.

To shape the buns: (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 and (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.)

Step 4 – Prepare the Buns for Proofing:

  • 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.

Step 5 – Proof the Buns: 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.

Step 6 – Bake the Buns:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Step 8 – Cool the buns:

  • 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.

Toppings for the Buns:

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. This version makes the best sticky bun glaze of any I´ve tried. It was developed by my wife, Susan, for Brother Juniper´s Cafe in Forestville, California.
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.

7 Responses

  1. That’s such a fun book, I have it and I love it. I haven’t made this recipe, but your cinnamon rolls look great!

  2. DH was looking over my shoulder and I think he drooled on me while saying, “OMG, mmmmm”. Looks like I’ll be making these soon, lol!

    They really look incredible!

  3. Mmmm cinnamon rolls are one of my favourite things to eat and obsess about! A couple of weekends ago I went out for brunch and had cinnamon roll french toast – so they sliced a cinnamon roll in 3 and made french toast with it. I haven’t tried this recipe but now I must after your review.

  4. Thanks everyone!
    Ashley- that sounds incredible! I will have to give that French toast a t try sometime!

  5. Those look so good! I’ve been considering getting the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, so I’ll look forward to seeing what you think once you’ve used it more.

  6. Okay, YUM! I so need to make cinnamon rolls! I keep seeing them and thinking about them. I need to do it. This week.

  7. i love sticky buns! great job!

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