From the Recipe Book: Chai Sugar and Spice Buns

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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.
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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!
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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Anyways, I like my buns a little sweet and a little spicy. I hope you do, too.

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Recipe (adapted from the kitchn )
Makes 12 buns
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Ingredients:
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

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Instructions:
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.

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*Optional glaze: mix 2 tablespoons of confectioners sugar with 1 tablespoon of heavy cream and drizzle over buns after mostly cooled.
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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!

Happy eating,

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<3, V(&K)

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