Sunday 30 September 2007

Yay! I'm a Daring Baker

For months before I started this blog, I had been following the adventures and escapades of a virtual group of like-minded baking enthusiasts called the Daring Bakers. Essentially, what happens every month is that a challenge recipe is selected and every member of the group is asked to make that recipe and post about it on the same day at the end of that month. Goodies that have been part of the challenge in the past include Gateau St Honore (hosted by Anita and Helene), Strawberry Mirror cake (hosted by Peabody), and Milk Chocolate and Caramel Tart (hosted by Veronica and Patricia).

Every single month, when I've read the posts of the varied members of this group, I've literally found myself starting to drool. This month's challenge, hosted by Marce is no less drool-worthy. In fact, this month is a double treat of sorts since the chosen recipe for the month was Cinnamon and Sticky Buns using a recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. What that means is that the one base recipe can be used to make either cinnamon or sticky buns and members were given a choice as to which they wanted to make, or if they couldn't choose, to make both!

For my first challenge, I decided to make the cinnamon buns since M loves his kanelbullar (Swedish cinnamon buns). To try to recreate the taste of the buns found in Sweden, instead of just using cinnamon in the filling, I chose to use a mixture of cinnamon and cardamom - one of the allowed modifications for this month's challenge recipe.

To be honest, I was slightly nervous when commencing this recipe for a myriad of reasons but mostly because it was my debut challenge and I wanted to do a good job. Also, since I haven't worked all that much with yeasted doughs, I was worried as to how this would turn out. As it turns out, my fears were not completely unfounded. For one, I found that my dough was really really sticky and hard to roll out. I kept sprinkling flour on my surface and on top of the dough but was worried that this would make the buns hard and doughy. From what I've read, other members did not seem to have this problem so perhaps there was something in the way I whipped up the dough.

In any case, despite the slight executional challenges, the cinnamon buns were totally yummy and won M's approval even if they're not exactly the most picture perfect creations. Given how delicious these were, the sticky bun version will definitely go onto my must-try recipe list. To do justice to this fabulous recipe, please do check out other members' creations here.

PS: To commemorate my official joining of the Daring Baker's group, you'll find a new DB logo on my blog!

Cinnamon and Sticky Buns
The Bread Baker's Apprentice

Days to Make: One (1)

Active/Resting/Baking Time: 15 minutes to mix, 3 1/2 hours fermentation/shaping/proofing, 20 - 40 minutes to bake
Recipe Quantity: Eight(1) - twelve (12) large rolls or twelve (12) - sixteen (16) small rolls

Making the Dough


  • 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.

Step 1 - Making the Dough: 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).

Note: 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.

Step 2 - Fermentation: Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Step 3 - Form the Buns: Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Proceed as shown in the photo below for shaping the buns.

(Text from the photot: (A) 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. (B)Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and (C) 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.)

Step 4 - Prepare the Buns for Proofing:

  • 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.

Step 5 - Proof the Buns: 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.

Step 6 - Bake the Buns:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Step 8 - Cool the buns:

  • 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.

Toppings for the Buns:

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.


Dagmar said...

Well done on your first challenge. I also used cardamon and cinnamon in my filling, but they tasted far from Swedish kanelbullar (I missed the cardamon that you put in the dough). But the sticky variant was really good though.

steph- whisk/spoon said...

happy first challenge! next time, i will use some cardamom, too. your buns look great!

slush said...

Great job on your first challenege! And I had trouble rolling my dough out too. It was still tacky and stuck to my rolling pin.

Well done!

Anne said...

Beautiful buns! well done on your first challenge :)

Andrea said...

Lovely buns! Congrats on your successful challenge, and welcome to the Daring Bakers!

Annemarie said...

Congrats on your first challenge, and for pleasing a taster who knows good Swedish cinnamon buns!

Anne said...

Congratulations - it looks wonderful! :)

Jes said...

They look great!

Hilda said...

Great job on your first challenge! I should have put cardamom in mine, but I went just with the cinnamon because of my adventures with yeast which prompted me not to want to change anything in the recipe for fear I would fail.

creampuff said...

Congratulations on completing your first Daring Baker challenge! You did a fantastic job!

kellypea said...

Congrats on your first challenge! And yes, I did experience very sticky dough and had to add quite a bit of flour little by little. I'll bet the cardamom you added was wonderful, and think I'll try that next time. Nice buns...

Helene said...

Congrats on your first challenge and "cheers" to many more successes!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Yes you sure are a DB now!
Great looking buns Caroline!

Unknown said...

Wonderful first job...they look scrumptious! Welcome to the DBs!

Belinda said...

From one new girl to another, I think you did a superb job with these cinnamon rolls! And they most certainly DO look picture perfect. :-)

Anonymous said...

They look great!

breadchick said...

Great job on your first challenge! You should be very proud of you buns and they look fantastic! Welcome aboard!

Mehgan said...

Yeah, go Kappa class!!

Marce said...

Congrats on finishing your first challenge, Caroline, you did a great job! And yep, you should definitely try the sticky buns, they are even yummier, especially using cardamom and different spices in the sugar filling.

Unknown said...

Delicious - I'll have to try adding cardamom next time.

Janet said...

Welcome to Daring Bakers, your cinnamon buns look perfect!

Peabody said...

Great job on your first challenge!

Anh said...

Congratulation on your first challenge!

Laura said...

I love your cinnabuns!

marias23 said...

Lovely job and welcome to the club!

April said...

Congrats on your first challenge! A job well done!

Chez Us said...

Welcome & nice job .. these look great!

Brilynn said...

I need to try to sticky buns too, well done on the cinnamon ones!

June said...

The buns look great!

Michelle said...

I'm a newbie too this month! Great job! :)

Karen Baking Soda said...

Lovely buns! Welcome and congrats on a challenge completed!

Pille said...

Hey, welcome to the club! I wish i had used cardamom in my buns - that's a great spice to use in Cinnamon Rolls!

Jenny said...

Very nice work! This was indeed a much gentler entry into DB world than some of our other choices, wasn't it?

Aoife said...

You were not alone in your difficulty rolling out the buns! It looks like you managed a beautiful swirl though!

Wendy said...

Your buns look great. I have never used cardamon before and it seems to be popular amongst the DBrs. I'll have to try it. Great job. Wendy

monica said...

congrats!! these are gorgeous buns...perfect for your first challenge

Canadian Baker said...

Welcome to the ever growing DBers. Your first challenge was well done!!

Deborah said...

Great job on your first challenge!

Dolores said...

NOT picture perfect?!? I beg to differ my dear, I'm sitting here drooling over your buns. :D

Welcome, and congratulations!

Lis said...

Yay Caroline! An excellent first challenge post!

Your buns look smashing - and so much gooier (is that a word?) than mine did.. I love that!

Welcome to the DB'ers!


african vanielje said...

This was my first challenge too. Well done, your buns look fab. Wasn't it fun!

Meeta K. Wolff said...

Congrats on such a sensational first challenge Caroline!