One of my fondest early food memories is my mom’s fresh baked bread. She would bake at least four loaves a week. I know I must’ve had only a few little baby teeth at the time but I would tear into this crusty bread made with rye and caraway and enjoy every crumb. I’m adding this: to master the art of a rustic loaf, to my mom goal list. I know that sounds a little cheesy but so far this is the only item on the list. And now you’re probably thinking where do these cinnamon buns come into all this rustic bread talk? When we were in Charleston a few weeks back we stopped by this bakery. Every Saturday, and only on Saturdays, they make the best cinnamon buns. They sell out fast, I think there were only 3 left by the time we got there. So when I set out to make some myself I wanted be sure to do it right. I followed Peter Reinhart’s recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. This book has all the bread recipes you could ever dream of making and Peter is the best teacher to show you step-by-step how to make them all. These buns turned out so well even our dog Onyx couldn’t contain her excitement. She was getting in the way of almost every shot so her persistence got her a picture on this post. Happy fall baking friends!
Ingredients for the Cinnamon Buns
6 ½ tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 ½ tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 ⅛ to 1 ¼ cups whole milk, room temperature
½ cup cinnamon sugar mixture (6 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon)
Ingredients for White Fondant Glaze
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon or orange extract (I used a teaspoon of rum)
6 tablespoons to ½ cup milk, warmed
Directions for the Buns
Cream together the sugar, salt, and butter on medium-high speed in electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or use a large metal spoon and mixing bowl and do it by hand). Whip in the egg and lemon 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. The dough should pass the windowpane test. 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.
Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about ⅔ 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. Roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 even pieces each about 1 ¾ inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 ¼ inch thick for smaller 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. Preheat the oven to 350F with the oven rack on the middle shelf. Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
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 at least 20 minutes before serving.
Directions for the Glaze
Sift the powdered sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon or orange extract (I used rum) and 6 tablespoons to ½ 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.
Recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.