Sunday, 30 September 2007

Daring Bakers September Challenge - Cinnamon Swirls and Sticky Buns

When Marce of Pip in the City announced this months challenge of sweet sticky buns I was a very happy baker. I love the whole process of baking bread and working with yeast, I love how it grows and evolves before your eyes, and yet for some reason I don’t actually get round to making it that often. I suppose it due to lack of planning as you do need to have a few hours free in which to prepare the dough and leave it to prove. However, this month’s challenge was not only involving making a bread dough but a sweet sticky dough that contained one of favourite spices – cinnamon and lots of it!

We were given the option of making cinnamon swirls or sticky buns or both. I love cinnamon swirls so I knew straight away I was going to make those, and as I had never made sticky buns before I decided to take up the challenge and give them a whirl too.

The dough was very easy to prepare and work with, neither too sticky nor too dry. I prepared mine early one morning, placed it in a warm place and went out shopping while it sat happily proving. I returned home to a risen puffy dough and set about making the buns.

The buns were also easy to prepare, as both buns start off with the same steps. The thing that sets them apart is how you finish them/arrange them before baking. After forming the dough into logs and cutting the cinnamony swirls of dough into sections, half are placed cut side down on a baking tray and baked before drizzling with icing, which produce the cinnamon swirls. The remaining half of the dough is placed closely together into a tin which has first been coated with caramel and chopped nuts. These are then inverted after cooking and the delicious nutty caramel becomes the sticky glaze over the top of the buns.

For my sticky buns I baked them individually in a muffin tin as I didn’t have the right sized tin to bake them all together. I added a couple of teaspoons of caramel into the base of the muffin holes and then topped each with a mixture of chopped walnuts and hazelnuts before adding the doughy buns. This worked very well, although they had a slight caramel eruption in the oven and coated the entire muffin tray (and the bottom of my oven!!) with caramel, but they produced perfectly shaped buns.

I was very happy with how both variations turned out. They were quite dense in texture and yet not heavy to eat. The dough was soft and full of sweet cinnamony goodness. The sticky buns were very sweet but the combination of the caramel and the nuts was gorgeous. The only thing which I found slightly odd was the addition of lemon zest in the dough. The lemon flavour was quite pronounced and although I quite liked this in the cinnamon swirls I wasn’t so keen on the lemon flavour in the sticky buns, it just didn’t work with the caramel and nuts for me. If I made the buns again I think I would add vanilla instead of lemon. Apart from this, I wouldn’t change the buns at all. They looked so glossy and appetizing and the fragrant cinnamon aroma lingered in my house for a few days. I really enjoyed unraveling the dough and eating it in pieces while licking the icing from my fingers. These buns are simple and satisfying to make and are sure to impress your family and friends, the perfect sweet treat for afternoon tea.

Cinnamon Swirls and Sticky Buns
(From Peter Reinhart´s The Break Baker´s Apprentice)








Makes 8 to 12 large or 12 to 16 smaller cinnamon or sticky buns

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
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon lemon extract OR 1 teaspoon grated zest of 1 lemon
3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose 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
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.)

Recipe
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.
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.
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and 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.)

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 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.

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.
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.

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 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.
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.

41 comments:

KJ said...

Your buns look lovely. What a great idea to cook the sticky buns in a muffin tin. Now that's ingenuity. I didn't mind the lemon. But I agree, I think vanilla would be really nice.

Peabody said...

Beautiful! Excellent job with the bun challenge.

*fanny* said...

I'm glad I didn't add the meon zest in the dough. Quite frankly I don't get what it could have brought expect an unwanted tangy flavour.

Both of your buns look delicious.
xxx

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

They look excellent! I would use vanilla in the dough next time but loved it in the icing.
Great idea to do the sticky buns in a muffin tray. I only made the cinnamon ones so feel I could be a bit braver next time and use a muffin tin.

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

They look lovely!

steph (whisk/spoon) said...

they look awesome--and baking them in a muffin tin was a great idea!

slush said...

I love that you baked them in a muffin tin. Too cute, and they look scrumptious to boot!

Anne said...

great job you made on the buns, they turned out really good for you :)

Meeta said...

Brilliant buns! They look so awesome!

Annemarie said...

Very cute and perfect looking buns - great idea about using the muffin tin!

Anne said...

I think it was a great idea to make them in muffin tins! Sorry about the oven though! :)

Jes said...

I love the cupcake/muffin tin idea--I bet it was less messy! Your buns look like they turned out great!

Ivonne said...

Great pics and GORGEOUS buns!

anita said...

Your buns came out so nice and round! Beautiful job!

kellypea said...

Very smart idea on the muffin tin. I hadn't thought of that. Next time, right? I, too, didn't really like the lemon. I knew this already, but added it anyway. So much for focus. It was fun comparing the two, wasn't it? Nice job!

Maryann said...

Yes, in the muffin tin makes them all uniform. They look great.

Belinda said...

Both versions of the buns look delicious! I don't know which one I'd grab first if I had them both sitting in front of me! :-) You did a lovely job with them.

breadchick said...

Beautiful Buns and photos! Congrats on this month's challenge!!

thepassionatecook said...

wow - your swirly buns rose just perfectly! how did you do that? i quite liked the lemon (i found it really subtle). maybe mine are different? who knows. bravo for making both recipes, i had a hard time making the deadline just with my stickies ;-)

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Muffin pans . .. I'll try that another time. Great idea. I did like the lemon in the stickies but I used dried blueberries in mine also.
Your buns are loverly!

Marce said...

congrats on your challenge, they look delicious!

Jenny said...

I found the lemon too prominent as well. And my oven was coated too! Hope you've been able to get it clean... I procrastinated for a while but its finally up and running again.

Anh said...

Lovely!!!

Laura said...

I like the muffin tin too. You have great looking DB buns!

marias23 said...

Ooo! Muffin tin! Now why didn't I think of that?

April said...

Your buns look delicious!

Andrea said...

Great idea to bake the buns in a muffin tin! The look so beautiful.

Brilynn said...

Those look wonderful, good idea to use the muffin cups!

June said...

Great idea to cook your buns in muffin tins!

Baking Soda said...

Just Love the side by side pic!

Pille said...

What a great idea to bake them individually in muffin tins. I'm going to use this next time!!!

Dolores said...

Yes... my grandmother used to make her sticky buns the same way, in individual muffin tins. She claimed they ensured "uniformity". I just know they tasted good!

I love reading the posts where people tried both recipes and hearing the various comparisons. Thanks for sharing your story!

Deborah said...

They both look wonderful! I made a mess in the bottom of my oven as well....

Aoife said...

I wish I had thought of using a muffin tin for the sticky buns. It looks like it was perfect for letting the dough expand without them all baking into a mass. Well done!

Julie said...

I've baked buns in muffin tins, too. I like how they seem to climb up like bun souffles. =)

Canadian Baker said...

What a smart idea to use a muffin tin! The buns look great!

wmpe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
wmpe said...

Your sticky buns are perfectly shaped. I agree about the making of bread - it is a wonderful process. Your photo display is very informative too. Wendy

Laura Rebecca said...

Lovely -- and great idea about baking them in muffin tins!

Lis said...

HA! The first thing I thought of when I saw the first photo was "Wow she has perfectly shaped buns!" *wink* And the further I read I found out why. hehehe So I might not make the sticky buns in a muffin tin, but I think I will try the cinnamon rolls in one! Too cute!

Great job, Katie!

xoxo

african vanielje said...

baking them in muffin cups is such a good idea. They look gorgeous