Sunday, 30 September 2007
If you see a post around the 29th or 30th of every month, it can only mean one thing - it's Daring Bakers Challenge Time again!
This month's challenge was provided by the lovely and talented
Marce and is nothing less than Cinnamon Buns and Sticky Buns (from Peter Reinhart´s The Bread Baker´s Apprentice).
Now I dont have a lot of experience baking bread or for that matter anything that uses yeast. Sure, I've taken the plunge and actually tried a Foccacia recipe that used yeast but the first time it turned out rock hard. Fortunately the second time produced a nice enough (read edible but not quite making the mark) Foccacia bread. So that's the extent of my bread baking endeavours and that was all I had to go on as far as experience is concerned.
One thing I hate about bread recipes is that they are never precise. I like precise - I'm an Engineer for goodness sakes. I'm used to getting down to decimal points and two decimal places just doesn't quite cut it. Pi may be 3.14 or 22/7 to the rest of you but to me its 3.141592 (and I even have a rhyme that can enumerate pi to 20 decimal places - so there!).
Why do I say brad recipes are not precise? Because EVERY and I mean EVERY bread recipe I have looked at says something to the effect of "More flour or water may be needed to get it to the right consistency". How is someone to know what the right consistency is? How would you like it if your car door was manufactured to "just about the right hardness - you may need to add some titanium to make it harder." Not so good now huh?
Yeah, so that's what I hate about bread recipes......
So anyway, the morning of the 15th, I decided to roll up my sleeves and try the Cinnamon Buns. We were given the choice of making Cinnamon Buns or Sticky Buns or even both if you wanted to. I decided to just stick to the Cinnamon Buns as I figured I would have enough trouble with the dough and wouldn't need to complicate things further. I also wasn't too keen on having to eat through a pile of sticky buns as my wife isn't really a fan of sweat breads. Give her savoury bread and she will wolf down the whole loaf - but not sweat breads. No.
So this is how it went...
Cinnamon and Sticky Buns
(from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice)
Days to Make: One (1)
Active/Resting/Baking Time: 15 minutes to mix, 3 1/2 hours fermentation/shaping/proofing, 20 - 40 minutes to bake
Recipe Quantity: Eight(1) - twelve (12) large rolls or twelve (12) - sixteen (16) small rolls
Making the Dough
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.)
1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and 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);
I don't have a paddle attachment so I proceeded to mix the whole thing by hand. It may have been easier to just use my mixer with the beaters but hey, lets try and follow the rules! Too my surprise, everything mixed together really well and quick too.
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.
Since it said whip in the egg and lemon extract, I decided to use my electric mixer. I whipped in the egg and extract and then added in the flour, yeast and milk. It all mixed up rather well but the dough didnt really form a ball. It was sort of cookie
dough like and rather soft. I was expecting it to be firm like a bread dough...
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.
I switched to the dough hook and let it mix. I still wasn't happy with the texture and wondered what SILKY and SUPPLE, TACKY but not STICKY is supposed to mean??!!! WHAT?? HOW?? And that's when the next line just send me spiralling into the stratosphere.
You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture.
Aaarrrgghh! What cant the recipe just say EXACTLY how much flour and or water is needed?? Why the subjectivity?? Anyway, I proceeded to add in some flour, and then some more and I think I added maybe a quarter to half a cup extra flour....
The dough was still softish and not at all what I expected - but as I said before, the only yardstick I had to measure it on was my prior Foccacia making experience.
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.
So I did just that. Rolled it around in an oiled bowl. I may have put in a little too much oil but I'm glad I used my common sense and used vegetable oil instead of Olive Oil. I'll admit that my hands sort of automatically reached for the Olive Oil but I quickly realised I didn't want olive tasting cinammon rolls! Covered the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit as the next step instructed.
2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
After the first hour, the dough had increased in size
After two hours it had more than doubled!
3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. A) 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. (B)Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and (C) 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 used baking spray to mist the countier and then rolled out the dough. The cinammon sugar was liberally sprinkled on and then I proceeded to roll up the dough. It didn't quite roll up as well as I wanted it to and the ends sort of bunched up. Nonetheless it rolled up fairly easily.
I then proceeded to cut the roll and this is where I wished I had one of those pastry cutters. The knife I use kind of flattened the slices in the sense that they became a little rectangular. But a quick squeeze and tuck put them back in shape.
4. 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.
I liked how the cinnamon sugar showed up nicely on the cut rolls. It was starting to look like a plan coming together!
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.
The pieces doubled in size again and they were really starting to look like cinammon buns - or Cinammon Rolls as we are more used to calling them.
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. Wait 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. (Remember to wear latex gloves.)
I thought the buns were really soft and tasty although I think I'd have liked more cinnamon sugar in them. The icing was waaay too much and the recipe could be halved. However, the icing was Really tasty!! It had a nice lemon tang to it too that went so well with the buns.
My son enjoyed the buns tremendously and between the two of us, we polished most of them off! Here's to another succesful Daring Bakers Challenge and please visit the rest of the gang to see their creations