It's the age old question, that could only be answered by the Daring Bakers...do you prefer cinnamon or sticky? This month's challenge was Cinnamon and/or sticky buns, and I must admit I was very excited for this challenge. Like I've said before I HATE working with yeast, but am starting to enjoy the challenges that call for yeast, that way I can break outta my shell :) Not to mention how much I love cinnamon/sticky buns! I decided that I was going to make both recipes, because I am one of those people who will eat buns any way they're made...I'm not too picky!
I first started out with the cinnamon buns and I have to say this was almost a near disaster, which would've left me in tears. Everything was going fine until I added the dreaded yeast and turned on my mixer. Not noticing the "mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball" part, I quickly released that I had over mixed my dough. Praying that my dough would still rise I put it into the lightly oiled bowl and walked away. Returning to my dough after about two hours I noticed that my dough had risen, but not enough, so I decided that I would start anther batch of dough (this time for the sticky buns), and leave the first batch to proof a little longer.
Making sure not to over mix my dough, I had high hopes for this batch! I wasn't as nervous, because I had already realized where my mistakes were the first time. Needless to say this batch came out perfectly, the two hours passed and my dough had risen beautifully! I took both batches and prepared to make them into buns. I had a really hard time with my first batch. The dough kept ripping, and I noticed that by spraying the counter with cooking spray didn't help AT ALL! The dough was sticking so bad, which made me decide not to use the spray for my sticky bun batch. Instead I used flour, and that was my key to success, I had no ripping, no sticking, only pure rolling perfection! Now that I had both logs rolled out it was time to cut into buns, and of course the cinnamon bun batch was such a pain, the buns kept splitting open, but I somehow managed to get some decent buns outta the log. The sticky buns were problem-less, and came out looking the way a bun should :)
After both batches proofed again, the cinnamon buns were the first to hit the oven. While those baked I made the yummy-yummy topping for the sticky buns, which I kept dunking my finer into and licking :) For my topping I used dried apricots, golden raisins and pecans, which all went really well together, adding the right amount of sweetness without being overbearing. The timer went off for the cinnamon rolls and I nervously went to open the oven door. To my surprise the buns looked like, well, buns!!! YAHOOO, I was so excited and couldn't waiting to pour the frosting on them and take a bite! My cinnamon buns were definitely a little more dense than normal, but they were still very tasty, and the buns that I thought would've been a disaster (the ones that kept bursting open a spewing their cinnamon sugar guts) ended up having this crunchy cinnamon-sugar exterior which was sooo good. So I was so glad that I didn't throw away that batch, because I ended up really, really liking them.
As for the sticky buns...these were DEVILISH!!! The minute they came outta the oven I stuck a fork in between the buns to have a bite of the topping, and I was in pure sticky bun topping heaven! After letting the buns cool for just a minute I inverted the pan onto a sheet tray and was hypnotized by the caramely-sticky goodness that was slathered all over my buns. I couldn't take it any longer I had to eat one, so I did! These were so buttery and moist, but bursting with flavor from the apricots and raisins! I can't even express to you the state of bliss I was in, and of course had to eat another one...oh well :)
I really enjoyed this challenge, and was glad that, despite my troubles at first, this recipe was fairly simple and easy to do. And I WILL be making both buns again, because I still can't answer my question as to how I like my buns!!
6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter(I used 3 TBSP shortening and 2 1/2 TBSP butter)
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread
2teaspoons instant yeast*
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups whole milk, at room temperature
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(recipe follows)
Sticky bun topping (recipe follows)
*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.
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); 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.Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter.(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.)Line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment.
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.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.Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with the oven rack in the middle shelf.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.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.
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.