Like many folks I’ve been busy with planning and attending various holiday functions during the past week, which has left me with little time to sit down and share my adventures in the kitchen with you. The next two posts will hopefully make up for my recent absence.
Though I wasn’t able to travel to Alabama and spend the holidays with my family this year (the not-so-great spoils of starting a new job), staying in Colorado gave me the chance to help my husband do his birthday right. Cameron had the misfortune of being born a couple days before Christmas, which means his birthday is slightly overshadowed by sweet baby Jesus’s. Usually he and I celebrate his birthday when I return from winter travels, but this time around, I cooked up a few plans to remind him how glad I am he was born 27 years ago.
On the night before his birthday, I surprised him with tickets to see the Denver Nuggets play the Charlotte Bobcats. I know they’re not the best NBA team out there, but they’re our team. Besides, watching basketball is the one time Cameron and I get excited about grossly overpaid athletes.
On the morning of his birthday, I broke out a batch of homemade morning buns. Similar in texture to croissants, they’re the closest I can come to his favorite breakfast guilty pleasure, Denver’s ridiculously decadent Duffeyroll.
Morning Buns (adapted from Cook’s Illustrated: Holiday Baking)
Makes 12 buns
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
3/4 tsp salt
24 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices and chilled
1 cup sour cream, chilled
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3 1/2 oz) light brown sugar
1 Tbs grated orange zest and/or 3 candied orange peels, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the dough:
1. Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a large zipper-lock bag. Add butter to bag, seal, and share to coat. Press air out of bag and reseal. Roll over bag several times with rolling pin, shaking bag after each roll, until butter is pressed into large flakes. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in sour cream, orange juice, water, and egg yolk until combined.
2. Turn dough onto floured surface and knead briefly to form smooth, cohesive ball. Roll dough into 20 by 12-inch rectangle. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. Pat cylinder flat to 12 by 4-inch rectangle and transfer to parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes.
For the filling:
1. Line 12-cup muffin tin with foil liners and grease liners with vegetable oil spray. (I didn’t have tin and paper liners, so I made impromptu liners with parchment paper, cutting the paper to fit each muffin tin.I lightly oiled each cup in the tin and added the liners when I was ready to pop the buns in the oven.)
2. Combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, orange zest (and candied orange peel), cinnamon, and vanilla in medium bowl. Remove dough from freezer and place on lightly floured surface. Roll dough into 20 by 12-inch rectangle again, and sprinkle evenly with filling, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges. Starting at long end, roll dough into tight cylinder and pinch lightly to seal seam.
3. Trim 1/2 inch of dough from each end and discard. Cut cylinder into quarters, then cut each quarter into thirds to make 12 buns. Transfer buns cut side up to prepared muffin tin. Cover loosely with plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 20 hours. (I prepared these on Saturday and refrigerated them overnight so that I could make them in the morning for Cameron.)
4. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees F. When oven reaches 200 degrees, turn it off. Remove buns from refrigerator and discard plastic. Place buns in turned-off oven until puffed and doubled in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
5. Remove buns from oven and heat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake until buns begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperatures to 325 degrees F. Bake until deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. (Mine only needed to back for 30 minutes at this point. I would just keep an eye on the oven to be sure they don’t get too dark.) Let buns cool in tin for 5 minutes, and then transfer to wire rack and discard liners. Serve warm.
Since these are rich treats and are best eaten fresh from the oven, I opted to freeze half of the prepped dough and make only a half dozen. If you decide to do this, too, transfer muffin tin (I used a second tin for this.) with unbaked buns to freezer until buns are firm, about 30 minutes. Transfer buns (with liners) to zipper-lock bag and freeze up to 1 month. To finish, return buns to muffin tin and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Proceed with step 4.