Sunday, September 30, 2007

Daring Bakers Go All Cinnamon-y!

Yay, my first Daring Bakers Challenge is done, and a wild success! I was so pleased to be accepted into the elite Daring Bakers (Blogroll to the left), and would like to take this time to welcome all of our October newbies, we have quite a few.

September's Challenge was Cinnamon and/or Sticky Buns, and I was oh-so-excited to be able to participate. I've always tried making them on my own, but they always came out either tough and chewy, or lacking flavor. This recipe helped fix BOTH problems, yay!!
First of all, the dough is a dream to work with. Soft and pillowy. I did have some problems getting it to rise, because we keep our house at a relatively low temperature during the day. So, if your house tends to be a little cool like mine, I suggest keeping your oven on a low heat and letting your dough proof near the warmth of the oven.

The Wonderful Dough

Proofing the buns.

Secondly, I didn't make the sticky buns portion of the recipe, but fully intend to during the coming months. The icing for the cinnamon buns has a slightly lemony taste that was good, but I would have much preferred cream cheese icing or just a plain royal icing. Marce, the host for this month, gave us a lot of creative freedom with this recipe in regards to different toppings for the sticky buns, and different seasons for the filling of the buns.

The buns fresh out of the oven.
Here's the recipe (it seems long and complicated, but that's because Peter explains everything in detail):

Cinnamon buns and sticky buns (from Peter Reinhart´s The Bread Baker´s Apprentice)
15 minutes mixing; 3 1/2 hours fermentation, shaping and proofing; 20 to 40 minutes baking.
Yield: Makes 8 to 12 large or 12 to 16 smaller cinnamon or sticky buns
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.)
*Instant yeast contains about 25% more living cells per spoonful than active dry yeast, regardless of the brand. Instant yeast is also called rapid-rise or fast-rising.
1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and shortening or 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); if you are using powdered milk, cream the milk with the sugar, and add the water with the flour and yeast. 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. 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. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. 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. 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. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and 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.
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.
For sticky buns, coat the bottom of 1 or more baking dishes or baking pans with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high with a 1/4 inch layer of the caramel glaze. Sprinkle on the nuts and raisins (if you are using raisins or dried fruit.) You do not need a lot of nuts and raisins, only a sprinkling. Lay the pieces of dough on top of the caramel glaze, spacing them about 1/2 inch apart. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a food-grade plastic bag.
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.
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.)
Caramel glaze for sticky buns
Caramel glaze is essentially some combination of sugar and fat, cooked until it caramelizes. The trick is catching it just when the sugar melts and lightly caramelizes to a golden amber. Then it will cool to a soft, creamy caramel. If you wait too long and the glaze turns dark brown, it will cool to a hard, crack-your-teeth consistency. Most sticky bun glazes contain other ingredients to influence flavor and texture, such as corn syrup to keep the sugar from crystallizing and flavor extracts or oils, such as vanilla or lemon. This version makes the best sticky bun glaze of any I´ve tried. It was developed by my wife, Susan, for Brother Juniper´s Cafe in Forestville, California.NOTE: you can substitute the corn syrup for any neutral flavor syrup, like cane syrup or gold syrup.
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.
2. Cream together for 2 minutes on high speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 teaspoon lemon, orange or vanilla extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
3. Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.

I packed up my finished buns for a bake sale I had this month for a group of pinup models that I joined in June of this year. We're called Northwest Pinups 4 Troops (we're on myspace) and we raise money to put together care packages (calendars, letters, goodies, etc) to send overseas to our troops who can't be home at this time. Our goal is to remind our boys that there's still something worth fighting for. Here are a few shots of us at the bake sale (my buns were one of the first things we sold completely out of!)

That's me, Rosie Baker, sitting all prim and proper!

The lovely Miss Sara Beth.

I had so much fun with this challenge, I can't believe how wonderful they turned out, and it only took one try!! My fear of baking with yeast is slowly starting to fade with time and experience (thank goodness!). Thank you, Marce, for a wonderful challenge.



Anne said...

Your cinnamon buns turned out lovely! well done on you first challenge :)

slush said...

Great job! They look fantastic! And I love the picture with the pumpkin in the back. I am so ready for fall!!

Annemarie said...

Well done with the buns. Very jealous of your mixer to help save you the agony of kneading them out!

Andrea said...

The buns look lovely! And I like how you combined the challenge with your pin-ups fundraiser! Welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Anne said...

Great job on your challenge! I *love* the photo of you!! So cute! :) And oh my, is that a PINK Kitchen-Aid? *swoon*

Jes said...

They look wonderful! And those dresses are so cute too. :)

Hilda said...

Happy first challenge! You did a great job and your buns look lovely (which totally sounds pervy as Lis pointed out) ;)

Ivonne said...

Nice buns! Oh yeah ... nice cinnamon buns too!

Well done and I agree with your tip about proofing your dough near a warm oven. Works for me all the time!

kellypea said...

Congrats to you on your first challenge and with excellent results! What a lovely idea your group is to send goodies to the troops. Actually a terrific idea when you like to bake and have too much to eat yourself.

Tartelette said...

You are a pin-up Rosie The Riveter with baked goods! I love it! Congrats on your first challenge! Nice buns dear!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Congratulations! Hooray for your great buns!
Great idea for the bake sale!

anita said...

Wonderful job with the buns! I'm not surprised they sold out quickly!

Belinda said...

You did a lovely job Mehgan, the buns look super yummy...and no doubt were enjoyed by everyone at the bake sale...what a nifty idea! :-)

Maryann said...

Fantastic! You and the girls look fab :)

breadchick said...

Wow! Great job on your first challenge and what a great way to send some cinnamony support to the guys and gals in the troops!

Mehgan said...

Thanks everyone! Wow, you people are FAST with the comments! I guess it's my civic duty to go raid the other Daring Bakers' blogs and post, post, post!!

Marce said...

They look wonderful, Mehgan, and so do you in your pinup outfit! Congrats on your first challenge!

Jenny said...

Ha, love the pinup pictures. The buns look like they would have sold themselves, but that's a nice touch. :)

Janet said...

Great job, hope you didn't sell them too cheap!

Peabody said...

I had no idea you were from WA!
I only used the fondant for 3 of the buns and make cream cheese frosting for the rest.
Great job on your first challenge.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

well done!

Laura said...

I love the pin-up/bake sale idea. I'm not surprised those buns sold out so fast!

marias23 said...

You have a pretty pink mixer! That's so awesome! Mine's a boring chrome but I so love it soo soo much :)

Lovely bunz, girl! And I love your and your friend's rendition of retro housewives for the sale!

April said...

Congrats on completing your first challenge! Your buns look fantastic!

Chez Denise et Laudalino said...

Your buns look great, I like the fall decorations in the background, brings the warmth of the buns out!

Brilynn said...

I agree, a cream icing would have been really good! And I have to get around to making the sticky buns as well...

June said...

The buns look lovely and the girls even more so!

Michelle said...

Your buns look awesome, and what a great cause!

Baking Soda said...

What a great start! Love the pics.

Pille said...

Those pin-up photos are so cute! Lovely buns, too:)

Brittany said...

Ow! Super hot lookin' buns! Great job on your first chllenge- I am soooo excited to play next month!

Quellia said...

What a great way to showcase the buns, at a bakesale!
Great work!

The Cooking Ninja said...

They look delicious and that photo of you is gorgeous.

Aoife said...

You're a pinup! And so are your buns -- both of you could be models!

wmpe said...

Your cinnamon buns look great. I love how your applied the fondant. I am glad the buns sold out quickly at your bake sale. I liked your 40s style dress-up too. Wendy

Canadian Baker said...

Yes I agree, this challenge was fabulous! Keep on using yeast and your fear will be a thing of the past! Good Job!

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Nice job Mehgan! Your buns look wonderful! It is so great seeing you over here in this corner of the cyberworld! :)

Deborah said...

Great job on your first challenge! Your buns look perfect!

Dolores said...

Congratulations on a successful first challenge. I love how you chose to 'deploy' your finished buns... what a wonderfully worthy cause. And you do classic Hollywood proud in your forties finery!

Lis said...

Look at you hot mamas all posin' for the cause.. so cute!

Your buns turned out beautifully and I'm so happy to hear they were a smashing success at the bake sale!


african vanielje said...

Well done on the buns they're great, and so are the pin-up pics, what a great idea. All this and a pink kitchen aid're my kinda girl

Meeta said...

Lovely lovely! The buns and the cute photos! Well done on your first challenge!