Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sweet Buns

It's funny how my mind works sometimes. I was thinking about coffee cake, and how some of them aren't sweet at all except for the topping. And there are some sweet breads that are sweeter than some desserts, but you'd probably eat the them for breakfast. Cinnamon rolls and almond coffee cake and streusel and strudel and buttery breads were calling to me.

It wasn't a day for whole grains, that's for sure.

Instead of a loaf, I opted for buns. These are fine-grained and soft-crumbed. Sweet and a little buttery with hints of vanilla and almond. The topping was sweet, but there wasn't too much of it - just a few crumbly nibbles on each bun. These were perfect with a little butter, and really nice all by themselves for a to-go snack as I was running out the door.

Sweet Buns

For the bread:
1 cup milk, scalded and cooled
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
4 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) flour, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon almond extract
4 tablespoons butter at room temperature

For the topping:
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Combine the milk, yeast, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and about 1/3 third of the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add another third of the flour and knead with the dough hook until the mixture gets stringy and elastic. It will be a very wet, gloppy mess, but you'll see the gluten developing.

Add the remaining dough ingredients and continue kneading until they are all incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubles, about 90 minutes.

Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, covering the bottom and extending up two sides, for easy removal of the buns. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Divide the dough into nine equal pieces, and roll each into a ball and place them in the baking pan in three rows of three. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the topping ingredients in a small bowl. Mash them together with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand.

When the buns have risen, sprinkle the topping on the buns. If the buns aren't touching, you'll have some topping on the bottom of the buns after they bake, but that's fine. Try to get most of it on top of the buns, however.

Bake the buns at 350 degrees until they are nicely browned, about 30 minutes. Remove them from the pan, peel the parchment off the bottom, and let them cool - at least a little bit. The topping is a little chewy when it's still warm, but after cooling it is very crumbly.

This has been submitted to Yeastspotting.