Chinese 5 spice cinnamon buns
Today kicks off 2013′s very first Breakfast Club (don’t you love the logo Ray created for me last night??!) For the first installment of my breakfast pastry challenge, I adapted the cinnamon bun recipe from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. I’ve made the recipe before, but this time I doubled my yield, used blood orange zest, and tweaked the filling so that my favorite spice, Chinese 5 Spice, took center stage, supported by some additional cinnamon and cardamom. I think my friend Brian, my baking guru, would be pleased.
The buns came out nicely, though I definitely learned a few lessons:
- Reinhart’s recipe, while excellent, takes a while. You have to bring ingredients to room temperature, make the dough, let it ferment for 2 hours, shape the dough into buns, let the buns proof for 75-90 minutes, bake for 20-30, cool for 10, make and apply the glaze, and cool for an additional 20. I started around 4:30 and finished around 11. However, during those 6.5 hours I also managed a trip the gym while the dough fermented and dinner and some downtime while the buns proofed. So while it’s not constant hands-on time, you still need to carve out some time for this.
- Humidity is a huge factor with dough. I measured all my ingredients by weight exactly, but still had to add nearly 3/4 cup flour to get the dough to come together properly. Why? Humidity. So, follow the recipe, but trust your eyes. Does the dough look like it could be porridge’s cousin? Add flour, by the tablespoon, until the dough fully pulls away from the bowl and forms a ball.
- Bake cinnamon buns on the middle rack of the oven. Normally this is no big deal, but because I had 2 pans, I had my racks positioned in the middle upper and middle lower. The buns on the middle lower got a bit more done on the bottoms, so next time if I have 2 pans, I’ll bake on the upper and middle upper racks.
Overall, I’m pleased with my Chinese 5 spice cinnamon buns. They were time intensive and a little challenging, but they baked up beautifully. I can’t wait to share with my taste testers!
Cream the butter, sugar and zest for 2 minutes on medium high in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Scrape down the bowl.
Add the eggs and mix until smooth.
Scrape down the bowl again.
Add the flour, 1 large spoonful at a time (I had my mixer's splash guard on and just gradually added the flour while the blade mixed.
The mixture will look mealy, but that's okay.
Pour the milk in a steady steam into the bowl and you continue to mix.
Mix on low until the dough begins to form a ball. If it seems too sticky, gradually add the additional flour until all the dough pulls away from the bowl.
Remove the mixer's blade and put on the dough hook. Knead with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes until the dough is supple and a little tacky, but not sticky.
Lightly oil 2 mixing bowls (I used a canola spray) and divide the dough into 2 balls. Place one in each bowl and roll it around to coat with the oil.
Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and place them in a slightly warm spot. Let them sit, undisturbed, for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
As the dough ferments, combine the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom and Chinese 5 Spice in a bowl, stirring to blend. Set aside.
After 2 hours, punch the dough down and prepare your work space to form the buns.
Spray your work space with canola oil (or another cooking spray) and transfer the first dough ball to the space.
Dust lightly with flour and roll the dough out, but not too thin ... approximately 14" by 12".
Sprinkle half of the sugar spice mix onto the dough, not getting too close to the sides.
Beginning with one of the longer edges, roll the dough into a log and divide into 12 rolls.
Place the rolls approximately 1/2" apart on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
Repeat these steps for the other dough ball.
Proof at room temperature for 75-90 minutes, or until the rolls have nearly doubled in size.
Heat the over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the rolls for 20-30 minutes until lightly golden.
While baking, make the almond glaze. Sift the confectioners sugar into a bowl.
Whisk the almond extract and warm milk into the sugar. Set aside.
Once the buns have finished baking, let them cool for 10 minutes, then streak the glaze onto them. Remove them from the pan and place onto a rack so they can finish cooling.
This recipe is adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart.