For this round of the BBA Challenge, a bread that is borderline dessert (except that we don’t eat desserts for breakfast, so we can pretend otherwise): Cinnamon Buns!
I meant to start this very early Saturday morning, so that, while not quite ready by breakfast, they could be served for “brunch” and therefore be enjoyed at the appropriate time of the day. I have been so busy at work I hardly knew what was in the fridge as I only pay attention to having enough milk for little E. I checked to make sure we could spare a cup for this recipe, I checked to be sure there was enough butter, I checked that there was (barely) enough bread flour and got going. I did not check to ensure we had enough eggs.
So the buns did not get started until 11:30 after a trip to the grocery store (i.e. when I had hoped they would be ready). Not ideal, but I think most people can eat breakfast food at any time of day.
The dough was, as described, soft and tacky. It was sticky rather than tacky at the outset, but I resisted the urge to add more flour and it eventually achieved the desired “tackiness”. Still it was so soft I was almost able to pour it into the bowl I had prepped for its first rise. Not quite a batter, still a dough, but definitely more down on that spectrum than other doughs I’ve made so far from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.
The “heat wave” (that I have NOT been complaining about after what we dealt with in June and July) had finally broke, so there was no exponential yeast growth this time. Still, the dough rose according to Reinhart’s timetable so there was no need to use my oven as a “proofing box” (those days are just around the corner as we head into autumn and winter, sadly).
Except for one corner, I managed to get the dough rolled out into a pretty decent rectangle. I think if I had patted it out into a nice square before starting this would have gone better.
I’ve made cinnamon bread several times so I was a bit shocked by how much cinnamon sugar this called for–the loaves never used nearly as much! I finally got to break into my “true” cinnamon that I ordered from The Spice House. (It turns out most of what we use is not “true” cinnamon but its relative cassia, which has that strong pungent quality. True cinnamon does not. You may also have seen it called “Mexican” cinnamon).
I spread all the cinnamon over the surface, surprised to see that it is applied directly to the dough (once again, back to my cinnamon bread experience–my recipe calls for a milk wash to help the cinnamon sugar adhere). It mostly did stay where it was supposed to, though a fair amount did spill back onto my rolling mat.
I cut the roll in half, then each half into halves again, and then each quarter into thirds. This mathetmatical procedure (rather than eyeballing) still somehow gave me buns of irregular width, but so be it. I stuck the punier ones to the end that would go closest to the oven door. I further used the spilled cinnamon on the two end pieces to make sure they didn’t lack for cinnamon flavor.
It’s fun to see that while they are angular and rather scrawny looking before their rise, they plump up into soft pillows that suddenly start to look very very appetizing.
Baked, they rise even more. Time for frosting.
Yet another double-take for me when reading the recipe. Four cups of powdered sugar? (I did, believe it or not, have that on hand, with plenty to spare). I forgot to add the lemon extract as suggested (though in my defense, Peter Reinhart says its perfectly fine to proceed without). Similar to other glazing experiences, it was nice to have that layer of parchment paper, because as you can see there is a lot of fondant dripping everywhere as it is warmed by buns only ten minutes out of the oven.
I wasn’t in love with the fondant, however. Have I been corrupted by Cinnabon? It was just too sweet, and sweet without any other flavors to balance or round it out. I don’t know if that was because I forgot to add the extract, and if that would have given it a nice flavor other than just pure, overpowering sugar. I didn’t really sift the sugar as well as I’m sure I should have, and the texture felt a bit grainy to me–I can’t say it was objectively grainy, but subjectively to me it tasted that way, but perhaps it was just the tremendous quantity of sugar. I’d like to try a cream cheese icing next time (I understand this is the “Cinnabon” way, but if it’s not, I know I like cream cheese icing!). I think the tang or slight sourness of the cheese would keep the sweet icing from being overwhelming.
None of this to say that these weren’t delicious Cinnamon Buns, and I truly am splitting hairs here. And if you were wondering, yes, these are good any time of day!!!