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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sugar Buns

One of my favorite "quick" recipes are the Sugar Donut Muffins I did not long after starting Sugar Pies. I've always loved cinnamon sugar doughnuts and those were just so yummy and delicious.

Recently, I was watching a rerun of a Martha Stewart show called Martha Bakes. Honestly, I had no idea she had so many different specialty shows - baking, cooking, gardening, sewing, crafts, accounting, investing... OK, maybe not accounting or investing. Anyway, on this particular show she introduced a rather interesting yeast dough recipe that she then adapted to various uses such as Monkey Bread, Pecan Buns, and these delightful little Sugar Buns.

These are really very simple to do and actually not a bad introduction to yeast breads that use active dry yeast rather than the more "fool proof" rapid rise yeast.

What's the difference, you say. Active dry yeast has larger particles of yeast and is dried to a lower moisture content. That means the yeast needs to be "proofed" before use. Proofing is a process whereby the yeast is dissolved in water with a little nutrient (usually a bit of sugar) and allowed to begin the process of fermentation. This releases carbon dioxide as little bubbles (that's what makes your dough rise). These bubbles take the form of a foam on top of the liquid "proving" the yeast is alive and ready for use. Rapid Rise (sometimes called Bread Machine Yeast) have smaller particles and a higher moisture content when packaged. This yeast does not need to be proofed and can be added directly to the dry ingredients in a recipe. The smaller size particles and higher moisture will allow for maximum hydration and activation of the yeast during mixing. For more info there is a great chart at

Now that you've been enthralled by the differences in yeast, let's talk about Sugar Buns. Like my favorite Sugar Donut Muffins these use just a couple simple ingredients to achieve a wonderful flavor. In this case we have cinnamon, sugar and a little bit of nutmeg that I slipped into the recipe for an extra depth of flavor. That's it for the sugar and spice department. The yeast bread, however, has a couple things that you don't normally find in yeast breads. I'll admit, I was skeptical of one of them - white vinegar. But amazingly it turned out a beautiful dough that had a lovely flavor. The other unusual addition is sour cream.

This is not a labor intensive dough and it performed wonderfully for me even allowing me to get a very tight roll without much trouble. Give this one a try, particularly if you've shied away from yeast doughs in the past.

: Sugar Buns
: Simple and delicious sugar a spice yeast rolls.

  • 2 packages active dry yeast (1 tbs. plus 2 tsp.)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tsp. white vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for muffin tins
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast and warm water with a pinch of the sugar; set aside until it becomes "foamy."
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar on medium speed, scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula as necessary. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula as necessary.
  3. Add vinegar and vanilla; mix to combine. Slowly add sour cream, mixing until well combined. Add yeast mixture.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours and salt. Add to mixer and mix on low until well combined and dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and just begins to form a ball.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Lightly flour the bottom of a large glass bowl; place dough in bowl and cover with a clean damp kitchen towel. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap; let stand until doubled in size, about 3 to 4 hours, or refrigerate overnight.
  6. Heat oven to 200 and immediately turn off and crack door.
  7. Generously grease one 12-cup muffin tin with softened butter. Set aside. In medium bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and mix until well blended. Set aside.
  8. Turn yeast dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 18-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter that has been melted in the microwave and liberally sprinkle with one-third of the cinnamon-spice mixture.
  9. Beginning with the long side facing you, tightly roll dough away from you into a log; pinch edge of dough to seal. Cut dough crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place each piece into prepared muffin cup and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Place muffin tins in warm oven until buns double in size, about 60 minutes.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Once dough has doubled in size, remove plastic wrap, sprinkle each bun with just a pinch of the cinnamon and spice mixture, and place on middle rack in oven. Bake until golden and puffed, about 22 to 24 minutes.
  12. Remove from oven and cool slightly on wire rack. In the meantime, melt the remaining butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Remove buns from muffin tins. Brush with melted butter and gently roll in remaining cinnamon-spice mixture. Serve warm.
Preparation time: 5 hour(s)
Cooking time: 24 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12
Culinary tradition: USA (General)

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