Monday, May 20, 2013

Lemon-Scented Cinnamon Buns

     I'm back!! My AP test is over, and I'm beyond excited to have my lazy weekend mornings and fun weekday afternoons back, with lots of room for baking!
     This recipe was actually made a couple of weeks ago, during one of my study breaks. Somehow studying seemed that much more pleasant when I could smell baking cinnamon buns in my oven...
It's so fluffy I'm gonna die! ("Up" reference? Anyone? No?...)
     These aren't quite the typical extra-large, sugar-coma-inducing cinnamon buns you might get at the mall food court (or at Ikea, as I learned yesterday...). These are fluffy, but they aren't super tall or extra sweet, largely due to the lemon zest and extract, which cut through the sweetness a little bit.
     In my opinion, cinnamon buns are the classic American weekend breakfast (with the possible exception of pancakes). I bought the book the recipe is from on a whim, when I suddenly became interested in baking bread. While lots of the recipes look pretty intimidating, I decided to start with something I had attempted before, and it ended up working out really well. I made the mistake of using active dry instead of instant yeast, so perhaps they didn't rise as much as they were supposed to, but I thought they were just the right size (and they didn't lose any fluffiness).
look at those sugar crystals...
    These are the perfect treat for a lazy weekend morning. Be warned, this recipe makes quite a large number of cinnamon rolls when you and your dad are the only ones eating them - I ended up sharing most of them with a friend at school, who wasn't too upset over having plastic containers full of pastries handed to her during English class. Two days in a row. ;)
Lemon-Scented Cinnamon Buns
(slightly adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

-6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 oz) granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon (.25 oz) salt
-5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 oz) shortening or unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature
-1 large (1.65 oz) egg, slightly beaten
-1 teaspoon (.17 oz) lemon extract, or 1 teaspoon (.1 oz) grated lemon zest
-3 1/2 cups (16 oz) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons (.22 oz) instant yeast
-1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups (9-10 oz) whole milk or buttermilk, at room temperature, or 3 tablespoons (1 oz) powdered milk (DMS) and 1 cup (8 oz) water
-1/2 cup (4 oz) cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon)
-White Fondant Glaze (see recipe below)

1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening 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, but add the water with the flour and yeast.
Whip in the egg and lemon extract 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 12-15 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 and register 77-81 degrees F.
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.
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. Shape the buns:
     -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 2/3" inch thick and 14" wide by 12" long for larger buns, or 18" wide by 9" 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 the seam side down, cut the dough into 8-12 even pieces about 1 3/4" thick for larger buns; or 12-16 pieces each 1 1/4" thick for smaller buns.
4. Line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2" apart so that they aren't touching but are close to one another.
5. Proof at room temperature for 75-90 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 3-4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
7. Bake the cinnamon buns for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
8. 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.

White Fondant Glaze
Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon extract and 6 tablespoons-1/2 cup 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. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)

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