Being a self proclaimed cinnamon queen and breakfast fanatic means that birthday breakfasts are going to be:
– most likely spiced
– require the kind of effort and will power to get out of bed early to bake that I’ll only muster up once a year
Oh and this is a competition between Me and Me, trying to outdo the previous years of celebratory breakfasts (like Monica Geller with Thanksgiving dinner).
Ever since travelling to San Francisco a couple of years ago and eating one of Tartine’s ‘Morning Buns’ I’ve known that one day I’d want to make them myself but as the memory faded, so did the motivation. Last year I was reminded of those flaky, sugary buns during breakfast at Cellar Door Provisions in Chicago. We’d already sat down to enjoy their sourdough blueberry muffins and croissants when my mum spotted a restock of the tiny glass shelf occuring – this time with different baked goods. I saw the clover-like folds of dough and identified this new mystery pastry as a Kouign-amann which I’d never tried before. Of course we got a couple of those too (they were warm, I couldn’t resist!) and their similarly flaky, sugar crusted character got me thinking about making morning buns again.
Luckily I have a weirdly good memory for recipes so recalled seeing a recipe for ‘Sugar Buns‘ on Tara’s beauty of a blog. I read through the recipe and noted the use of Nigella Lawson’s food-processor Danish Pastry which I’d tried before (after re-jigging the recipe a tad) with great success. The best thing was that I was actually organised enough to be looking at the recipe the night before my birthday, meaning I could make and shape the pastry in the PM then wake-and-bake the buns in the AM. The 45-minute proving period required in the morning is the perfect amount of time for having a shower (hence the damp hair in the pics), getting dressed and brewing a pre-breakfast pot of coffee.
These really are pretty damn easy to make, don’t be intimidated by the lengthy instructions! The rolling and folding of the butter flecked dough doubles as the kneading and it takes about 10000% less time than making croissant dough. I also cut down the waiting time considerably by simply shoving the dough into the freezer, not the fridge, before the roll/fold process. Given that all twelve buns were gone in a day (I ate three, wahoooooo! Birthday privilege!) I think a wise move would have been doubling the dough recipe. Then I could have kept half of it in the freezer for omg-I-need-breakfast-buns-now moments ….e.g. every single day.
– Recipe and method adapted slightly from ‘Sugar Buns’ by Seven Spoons (where the Danish Pastry recipe is from Nigella Lawson).
– When rolling + folding the dough: If you do this quickly, you can get all the roll-and-folds done in one go. Otherwise, if the dough seems to be getting warm and sticky, it’s wise to put it back in the freezer for 10 minutes between every couple of fold-and-rolls. You don’t want the butter to get too soft as it needs to stay cold to create the layered effect.
– This is a night-before-assembly recipe!
Overnight Spiced Sugar Buns
For the Quick Cardamom Danish Dough:
- 1 1/2 cups white bread flour
- 3/4 cup wholemeal flour
- 1 tsp salt
- a 7g packet (2 1/4 tsp) active dried yeast
- 1 tbsp raw sugar
- 3 or 4 cardamom pods
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter , cold
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup cold water
- 3/4 cup cold milk
For the Cinnamon Filling:
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar , plus extra for dusting
- 1 tbsp powdered sugar
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter , melted
For the Vanilla Sugar:
- 1/3 cup granulated or caster sugar (I used a mixture)
- beans from 1 vanilla pod (or tsp vanilla extract)
For the dough:
Place the flours, salt and yeast into a food processor and briefly pulse together until blended.
Place the sugar and cardamom pods into a coffee grinder, blender or pestle + mortar and grind until fine. Add the cardamom sugar to the food processor. Cut the butter into 6 large chunks and scatter over the flour. Pulse in 3 times. Whisk together the egg, water and milk then pour into the food processor. Pulse together until a shaggy dough forms - you should still be able to see chunks of butter all over the place. Transfer the dough to a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes.
Roll the cold dough out on a floured surface into a 20-inch square. Fold the left third of the dough into the middle and then the right third into the middle so that it overlaps the other fold, like a business letter (see the .gif below the recipe). Rotate the dough 90-degrees clockwise so that the long edge is facing you and roll out again into a 20-inch square. Repeat the folding, rotating and rolling four more times (so you have completed a total of 5 fold and rolls) (see notes). Wrap the 20-inch square of dough in cling film and put it back into the freezer for 10 minutes.
Brush the cups of a 12-cup muffin tin with some of the melted butter from the cinnamon filling. Dust each muffin cup with the extra granulated sugar too. Stir together the 2 tbsp of granulated sugar, 1 tbsp powdered sugar and ground cinnamon in a small bowl.
Take the chilled dough out of the freezer, unwrap and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into an 8x20-inch rectangle. Brush the surface all over with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon-sugar. Roll up tightly into a 20-inch long snake. Cut into 12 equal pieces and place (cut side down) into the prepared muffin tin. Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm and put into the fridge overnight.
In the morning take the muffin tin out of the fridge, uncover and leave at room temp for 45 minutes to prove (20 minutes into this proving period preheat your oven to 350 F (180 C)). Bake the buns for 17-20 minutes until well risen and deeply golden. Run a butter knife around the edges of each bun while hot to loosen it from the pan. Combine the vanilla sugar ingredients in a wide dish and roll the warm buns in it to coat.