Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sugar Buns

If you were to ask just about anyone who knows me, they would likely wholeheartedly agree that 'all black everything' is a pretty apt description of my wardrobe. My brothers have taken to calling me the Princess of Darkness, and dressing up as Wednesday Addams for Halloween wasn't all that much of a stretch for me. Normally, I don't really notice my monochromatic wardrobe. When I'm in London or St Andrews or New York, I am swimming in a sea of black. But when I come home? Well that's a different story all together.

It comes a shock to all of my friends at home that I still tend to dress like I could be dashing to a funeral at any moment. If pressed, they might even call it drab. While I avoid looking too delicate or sweet when I dress, I have all the time in the world for sweetness and delicacy when I bake. I can't resist anything tiny and dainty and adorable- macarons, palmiers, you name it.

When I was trolling the internet for a recipe to make and spotted these beauties, I was hooked. I couldn't get the idea of them out of my head. They were just too prettttttyyyy. Don't you think? They are tender and flaky, made with a Danish dough, and are softly spicy. The diaphanous pastry unfurls to reveal a sticky center heady with butter. I promise, just one won't do.

Sugar Buns
Adapted from Seven Spoons
Makes 12 buns

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bread flour
1 packet active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup warm water
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
16 tablespoons cold butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

For the buns:
6 tablespoons butter, browned and cooled
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
All-purpose flour for dusting
Granulated sugar for dusting
1 recipe Danish dough

To make the Danish dough: In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, bread flour, yeast, sugar and salt. In a measuring cup, whisk together milk, water, egg, and almond extract. Scatter the cubed butter over the flour mixture and, using a snapping motion, work the butter into the flour until it is in pea-sized clumps. The dough will be shaggy. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in milk mixture. Sweeping your hand in a figure-8 motion, incorporate wet ingredients into dry ingredients until it forms a dough and comes together in a ball. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, bring the dough to room temperature. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20-inch square. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter, turn the dough 90 degrees, and roll out again to a 20-inch square. Repeat the process 3 more times. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 20 minutes before using.

To make the sugar buns: In a small bowl, whisk together brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg. Brush the inside of a 12-hole muffin tin with browned butter and sprinkle generously with sugar. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the Danish dough to an 8-by-12-inch rectangle. Brush with browned butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the sides. Sprinkle sugar mixture over top and press into dough. Roll dough into a tight log and slice into 12 equal pieces. Place one piece in each hole of the muffin tin. Put muffin tin in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375. Once the buns have doubled in size, bake for 25 minutes, until firm to the touch and golden brown. Remove from oven and turn out onto a baking sheet. Roll each bun in granulated sugar and place right-side up on baking sheet. They're best eaten still warm.

More Morning Treats

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