Saturday, October 6, 2007

I got Big Buns

Probably not a comment you'd hear from most women, but in reference to sticky buns, the bigger the better. This was my very first Daring Baker challenge and I have to admit I was a little nervous before the challenge was announced. I have seem some of the previous challenges and there have been some doosies! Bagels, I tremble at the thought of making, was a past challenge. There are others as well, Strawberry Mirror cake and Martha's Crepe Cake (shudder). As much as I was looking forward becoming a DB frankly I was also a little scared:) Would I be a total failure on my very first challenge?

So when I found out the challenge was making cinnamon or sticky buns, I was thrilled and a little relieved. Coming from a Pennsylvania dutch background, sticky buns were a fall and winter staple in our home. They even play a part in our Christmas morning tradition. My mother rolls out the dough and fills the center with apricot perserves, then makes inch wide slits around the edges, crisscrosses the the edges across the preserves. She then forms the dough into a candy cane shape and bakes it and tops the candy cane with the powdered sugar fondant we used in this recipe. It's always the one thing everyone can't wait to eat. We all try to get the middle pieces because they've got the most apricot preserves!
Although I've helped mom make sticky buns many times, she has always made the dough. She has it down to a science. I've made them a few times on my own, but with any yeast dough I'm always a little nervous and worry that it won't work right. What if it doesn't rise? Did it rise long enough? Too long?? etc...
I was ready to take on this challenge and WOW where these great buns!


Yield: Makes 8 to 12 large or 12 to 16 smaller cinnamon or sticky buns
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.)

*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.
**I used butter in my dough

***I used the lemon zest

****I used whole milk
1. 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.

I used my kitchen-aid to make the dough and found the dough rather sticky so I added about 1/2 a cup or so more flour to get the right texture.

2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

3. 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.)I cut mine exacatly 1 3/4 inches.

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. (Glaze recipe below)

I sprinkled pecans and currants on top. 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.

5. 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.
Mine were this big in about 45 min. so be sure to check them often during this rise.

My Big Buns

6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
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. I was so thrilled when I flipped them out of the pan. They were absolutely perfect!

Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.This may not be possible. The buns look and smell so good, unless you are extremely disciplined you may find this step unnecessary. Hubs and I gave them a good 10 min. before devouring one! YUMMY!

White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns
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.
Caramel glaze for sticky buns
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.

I had a ton left over. Oh well. just another excuse to make more buns! I liked the topping but it was a little harder than the cooked caramel topping that I would normally use.

I got 7 buns to fit into my pan and made cinnamon rolls from the remaining buns. They came out enormous and very good as well, but I preferred the sticky buns. Hubs concurs!This was a really fun challenge for me. Great pick Marce!


slush said...

I come from PA Dutch background too. Most of my family still lives in that area. My dream is to be able to make stickies like "Dutch Maid" at the Farmers Market. Its nice to dream.

And your buns look great!! xo

Dolores said...

Gorgeous buns! Congratulations on your first challenge.

Half Baked said...

I love the Farmer's Market's in PA. Nobody can make baked goods like the Amish and Mennonite ladies!!
Thanks for the comment. I'm glad I got the first one right:)

Andrea said...

I have to agree, your sticky buns came out perfect! I love that photo. Congrats on your first challenge, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!