On our way to the ROOTS office a couple of months ago, Carlton told me that he was craving Cinnamon Buns, “the yeast kind”. We stopped at a couple of bakeries in the Highlands to no avail. After dropping me off at the office, he drove to K-rogers to check if they have it. I never asked if he ever did satisfy his craving that day, but mine wasn’t.
I woke up last Saturday with cinnamon buns in mind, and I know I have to make it myself if I have to satisfy this nagging craving. We have not had bread or any wheat product at home for the past 6 weeks as part of our live healthier regimen for spring, so that pose a problem. But then, I remember it's mother's day weekend, and I deserve a treat, so I did, and so did everyone else who came to celebrate with me that day.
Cinnamon Buns with Caramel Glaze
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
6 1/2 T granulated sugar
1 t salt
5 ½ T shortening/unsalted butter/margarine
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 t orange/lemon/vanilla extract
3 ½ cups unbleached bread or A/P flour
2 t instant yeast*
1 1/8 to 1 ¼ cups whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature, OR
3 T powdered milk (DMS) and 1 cup water
6 1/2 T granulated sugar
1 ½ t ground cinnamon
Caramel glaze (at the end of the recipe)
¼ cup pecans
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:
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.
“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.” – Peter Reinhart
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.
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.
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.