I realized that I hadn’t made anything for you guys in a while, so I thought I would share one of my favorite holiday recipes. I firmly believe it’s going to be your new breakfast tradition.
For five fateful months after we returned from living in Asia, I worked at a bread bakery.I want to start off by saying that have an enormous amount of respect for bread bakers! They literally work 24 hours a day and are some of the most dedicated individuals I have ever known. I made some amazing friends at that bakery. If you see a bread baker today, you should thank them for the deliciousness they bring into the world. No, I did not bake bread. I was in charge of mise-en-place and small pastries. Sadly, I couldn’t really hack it as a professional (too stressful). I’ll stick to home baking, thanks!
Anyways, rolling out those huge batches of cinnamon rolls was the one task that I especially couldn’t stand. We had a standard for our cinnamon rolls. Many people believe, they are the best in town- enormous doughy messes oozing with butter and caramelized cinnamon sugar. My boss and I had extremely different icing philosophies (I heard the phrase “this isn’t Cinnabon!” shouted a lot). They were the bane of my existence. I had nightmares about those cinnamon rolls, okay? Honestly, I haven’t been able to make a cinnamon roll since I stopped working there.
But V, you might be asking yourself, what do we do about festive mornings when we are all hungover and require a sweet treat?
I have two solutions:
1) You can pick up cinnamon rolls from your local bakery and compliment an employee, thus making their day.
2) You can make these sugar buns!
Fortunately, these are not cinnamon rolls! These are sugar buns, the easier and more mild-mannered cousin to the cinnamon roll. Good news is they can be whipped out in less than a few hours with very little crying involved. The typical sugar bun is a little sweet for me, so I’ve made mine with a twist- a chai spice blend that you can store in your cupboard for future experimentation (recipe below). Plus, they look like little roses.
If you have puff pastry on hand, use that to give your buns some flaky layers without worrying about the proofing or rising. Or, you can whip up a simple sweet dough. I like this recipe from Bon Appetite, but it does take a little longer (about 1.5 hours). So, go watch Elf on Netflix and you’re good to go!
Sugar is used twice in these little babes: combined with butter while baking to create a caramel shell on the bottom of the buns and they are coated with more sugar while cooling for a little crackle when you bite into them. You also roll out the dough in sugar instead of flour, so you can understand why I like to swap out a bit of sweetness by mixing the sugar inside with a chai spice.
Anyways, I like my buns a little sweet and a little spicy. I hope you do, too.
Recipe (adapted from the kitchn )
Makes 12 buns
4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablesoon packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons chai spice mix
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 pound of homemade sweet dough OR 1 (1.25-pound box) frozen puff pastry (2 sheets), thawed but still cold
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1. Prepare sweet dough if making from scratch.
2. Heat the oven to 400°F and grease a 12-well muffin tin.
3. Make the sugar mixture by combining 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar, brown sugar, chai spice mix, and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar onto a work surface. Roll dough onto the sugar. Spread 2 tablespoons of the butter on the pastry and sprinkle with sugar mixture.
5. Roll a rolling pin lightly over the dough to ensure the sugar sticks. Working from the longest side, roll into a tight roll. (repeat x 2 if using puff pastry).
6. Cut the log crosswise into 12 pieces (or each sheet of puff pastry into 6) using a serrated knife. Place 1 piece cut-side up in each muffin well.
7. Bake the buns until puffed and dark golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack.
8. Melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan or a microwave-safe bowl. Brush the finished buns with the butter and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar before serving.
*Optional glaze: mix 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and drizzle over buns after mostly cooled.
These buns are best eaten the day they are made. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature and reheat in a warm oven or microwave!