christmas cinnamon buns

As we near the end of December, I've found myself reflecting on the past year and its defining moments. I am overwhelmed by countless memories - memories of our wedding, our cousins' weddings, and time spent with family; memories of welcoming Miles into our lives, our trip to Italy, and celebrations with friends. The boundless fortune and joy that has defined this year leaves me speechless with gratitude and thanks.

Of course, amid this fortune, there were a few struggles too - that at the time seemed punishing and unfair. revisiting them now with a changed perspective, they have taken on meaning and significance. We learned from them and emerged from them stronger than ever. When life throws us lemons in years to come, I hope I can remember that time and perspective will offer understanding, as I have found it always has.

So, with love, faith, and gratitude, I'm raising a glass of champagne [and a warm cinnamon bun] to 2014 - I leave you feeling grateful for what you've given me and excited for what's to come.


christmas cinnamon buns

recipe from Food Network Kitchens

I can't take credit for this recipe - it is from the kitchens of Food Network [with a few of my own notes]. This is a classic cinnamon bun at its best - simple and true to its reputation - just a buttery, cinnamon-y, warm roll of goodness. A perfect treat for Christmas morning, to enjoy in front of the tree with the ones you love.

for the dough:

1 cup whole milk [I only had 2% on hand, and that worked just fine]

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast [I used one 2 1/4 teaspoon packet]

1/4 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for bowl

1 large egg yolk

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more if needed

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg

 

for the filling:

all-purpose flour, for dusting

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

 

for the glaze:

2 cups confectioners' sugar

1/3 cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

First, make the dough: warm the milk in a medium saucepan over low heat until it reaches approximately 100 degrees [I usually just test with my finger; it should feel like warm bath water]. Remove from the heat and sprinkle in the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar [do not stir]. Allow to sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the melted butter, egg yolk, and vanilla. 

Meanwhile, combine the flour, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, salt, and freshly ground nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture. With a dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until thick and slightly sticky. Increase the speed to medium, and knead until the dough gathers around the hook and is smooth [about 5 minutes]. [You can add more flour at this point, if your mixture is really sticky - I didn't find it was necessary].

Remove the dough and shape into a ball. Butter the mixer bowl, and return the dough to it, turning to coat with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size [Food Network approximates 1 hour and 15 minutes - I found mine took closer to 2 hours].

On a lightly floured surface, Roll the dough to a 12x14-inch rectangle, making sure the longer side is closest to you. Spread the top with the softened butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border along the far long edge. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, and sprinkle over the top of the buttered dough - still leaving that far edge untouched. 

Brush the unbuttered far edge with water. Roll the dough away from you in a tight cylinder and press on the long edge to seal. Cut the cylinder into 6 equal pieces.

Butter a 9x13-inch baking pan and arrange the cinnamon buns, cut side down, in the pan [making sure to leave a little bit of room around each one]. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled [Food Network approximates about 40 minutes, but again I found mine took a bit longer - a little over an hour. At this stage, after the buns had doubled in size, I transferred the covered pan to the fridge, to bake the next morning].

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and bake the buns, uncovered, until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before serving [don't be concerned if the buns are swimming in a pool of butter - they will soak it all up as they cool hehe]. 

While the buns are cooling, make the glaze: sift the confectioners' sugar into a bowl and whisk in cream and melted butter until smooth. Pour the glaze over the buns, and serve warm.