So, let's say that you had some croissant dough lying around. You then took this croissant dough and sprinkled sugar on it and rolled it up. Then, after it was baked, you filled it with with a fruit sauce and rolled it in even more sugar, because why the hell not. Sounds a little crazy and kind of over-the-top, right?
Well, it may be crazy and over-the-top, I'll give you that, but it's delicious.
These pastries are more than a little decadent and require more than a little time and effort, but they're worth it. Making the croissant dough is a little tedious and can be a pain to roll out by hand, but to see the finished product and think, "Hey, I made all of that myself" is really cool and rewarding, at least to me.
These are especially rewarding once you actually eat one. It tastes like something you'd only find in a bakery and they'd probably go for $8 bucks a pop. They're crunchy on the outside, soft in the center, sweet but tart, flaky, buttery, and everything you could ever want in a pastry.
But once you make them yourself, you realize that it's not an impossible task to make them yourself. I'm not saying you'll want to make these every weekend (unless you want your arms to get ripped), but they're on the list for "special holiday desserts" when you really want to steal the show.
I feel like making these has opened the flood gates for future morning bun flavours. You could make any kind of infused sugar and any kind of filling. I'm already dreaming up a custard filled bun because I go apeshit over custards and anything custardy.
Imagine something simple, like vanilla sugar and vanilla pastry cream.
Or maybe get a little decadent and do lemon sugar with lemon curd, topped with torched meringue for a play on a lemon meringue pie?
Or what about cinnamon sugar and brown butter pastry cream??
Lime sugar and coconut custard????
Raspberry sugar (with raspberry powder) and peach jam??!?!?!
Let it be remembered that today is the day that I start my downward spiral into morning bun madness. My delicious downward spiral.
Orange Cranberry Morning Buns
Makes 18-20 buns
Recipe from The Modern Café
852 g all-purpose flour
21 g salt
102 g granulated sugar
17 g yeast
408 g water at 21 C
170 g unsalted butter, soft
424 g unsalted butter
2 oranges, zested
500 g granulated sugar
Cranberry Orange Coulis
250 g fresh or frozen cranberries
50 g granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 orange, zested and juiced
3 cinnamon sticks
For the croissant dough, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and give it a quick mix on the lowest setting to distribute all of the ingredients evenly. Add the water and mix until a shaggy dough is formed, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the softened butter. Mix on low speed for 10 minutes, until full gluten development is achieved and the dough is smooth.
Remove the dough from the mixer and place on a silpat lined half sheet pan. Spread the dough into a rough rectangle the size of the pan, trying to make it even and flat. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature to ferment for 45 minutes.
In the meantime, make the orange sugar. Place the orange zest and sugar in a food processor and buzz up until the sugar is a pale orange and the zest is distributed evenly. Reserve in an airtight container.
Make the cranberry orange coulis. Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, stirring often. The berries will soften and burst, at this point you can turn the heat off and let it cool down. Carefully remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks. Using an immersion blender or food processor, purée the mixture until it is smooth. Pass through a fine-mesh sieve and reserve in the fridge until ready to use.
Remove the plastic wrap. Using your palms, flatten the dough to release the large gas bubbles, but do not push all the air out of the dough. Make sure the dough is in all the corners of the half sheet pan and is even. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze for 45 minutes.
For the butter block, the ideal temperature for the butter is around 21 C. If the butter is too cold, place a piece of parchment underneath and on top of it and use a rolling pin to pound it down and make it malleable. Shape the butter into a rectangle the size of half a half sheet pan, making sure the edges and corners are sharp and the butter is even and flat. Depending on the temperature of your butter, you may need to keep it at room temperature or in the fridge, or a combination of the two, to keep it at 21 C.
Remove the dough from the freezer. Remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Let the dough soften for 5 to 10 minutes until it is no longer rock hard, but not soft. Place the butter block on the right hand side of the dough, leaving about 3 cm of dough around the edges of the butter block. Fold the left hand side over, like closing a book, and pinch the seams together.
With the "spine" of the dough (think the spine of a book) on your left, roll the dough out vertically to around 30 cm. Turn the dough so the spine is now facing your stomach and roll it out to 60 cm. Make sure to keep the rectangular shape throughout the entire process. If the dough feels too soft at any point, place it in the fridge for 5 minutes. Do not leave it in the fridge for too long or the butter will become hard and will shatter when you roll it out.
For the first turn, fold the bottom third of the dough up as if you were folding a letter. Fold the top third down to cover the bottom third. Turn the block 90 degrees so the dough resembles a book, with the opening on the right and the spine on the left. You will continue this pattern with each roll, and keeping the opening on the right will help you remember how to position the dough. You have completed your first turn: gently press a finger into the corner to mark it. Let the dough relax for at least 15 minutes, either at room temperature or partially in the fridge, depending on the temperature of the dough. Be mindful of the butter temperature.
For the second turn, roll the dough out in the same way as you did before, fold it, mark it, and let it rest. Repeat for the third and fourth turn.
Spray two muffin tins with nonstick spray and set aside. Alternatively, if you have pastry rings that are 1.75 inches high and 3 inches in diameter, use them. They create a cleaner, more consistent pastry.
Roll out the dough to 30 by 60 cm once more. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough in half, creating two 30 by 30 cm squares. Place one square on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and place in the fridge. If you don't plan on using the second square that day, wrap tightly in a double layer of plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for up to 1 day.
Roll out the remaining square to 60 by 45 cm, about 1 cm thick. With the long size facing you, sprinkle 150 g of the orange sugar on the dough, leaving a 3 cm border at the bottom with no sugar. Brush this bare part with water. Starting from the long size farthest from you, roll the dough tightly towards you, making sure it is even and there are no air pockets. The strip of dough with water on it will seal the log and ensure it doesn't unroll.
Repeat with the remaining square of dough.
Using a large sharp knife, cut the log into 5 cm portions. Place them into the muffin tin and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
Place in a warm, humid environment to proof. I set mine on the bathroom counter and put the shower on the hottest temperature for 2 minutes, then turn it off and close the door. The temperature should be around 24 C, but not too much hotter or the butter will melt out of your dough.
Proof the dough for about 1 hour, until they have doubled in size. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 F. If your pastries are ready but you are not ready to bake them yet, place them in the fridge. Do not let them stay in the fridge for too long, as they continue to proof (very slowly) in the fridge and will still overproof if you leave them for too long.
When the dough is ready, place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven and place the muffin tin on a cooling rack. Once the buns are cool enough to handle, but still warm, remove them from the tin. If you wait until they are completely cooled, the caramelized sugar on the bottom will harden and glue your pastries to the muffin tin.
Transfer the cranberry coulis to a piping bag fitted with the smallest circular piping tip you have. Gently insert the tip into the top of the morning bun (you may need to use a paring knife to create an opening in the pastry) and pipe in as much coulis as the pastry will allow. Repeat for the remaining buns.
Gently toss the buns in the remaining orange sugar. Shake off the excess and place back on the cooling rack.
Serve the pastries that day.