Sugar Buns

For the dough:

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • ½ cup milk, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • ¾ cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup (8 ounces, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small dice

For the buns:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/3 cup golden brown sugar
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • A good pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 3/4 stick) browned butter, cooled
  • All-purpose flour for dusting

 

In a small pitcher or measuring cup, stir together the water, milk, and egg.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, sugar and yeast. Scatter the cubed butter across the flour mixture. With a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mix, stopping once the butter is distributed but chunks still visible.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture,  then pour in the milk/egg mixture. Stir quickly to bring everything together into a messy dough. It will be shaggy and sticky and uneven. Not to worry. As long as the flour is all combined, it is ready to go. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight, or as much as two days.

When ready to proceed, take the dough out and leave for 1-2 hours until up to room temperature. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20-inch square. (The dough may be hard to work with on the first rolling, but it will get silkier and easier with each turn.) Fold the dough in thirds, as with a business letter. Turn the package 90 degrees counter-clockwise, so that the closed ends are to your left. Roll out again to a 20-inch square, and fold again, then turn. Repeat the process of rolling and turning 3 more times, 5 folds and turns in total. If the dough seems to be getting sticky or greasy, chill briefly in between turns.

Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 minutes before using, or freeze for a later date.

Combine sugars, zest, spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

Brush the wells of a 12-cup muffin tin (see note) with a thin film of browned butter, using maybe 1 tablespoon in total. Set aside the rest. Coat the wells generously with granulated sugar, tapping out excess. Set aside.

On a lightly-floured work surface, roll your Danish dough to an 8×20-inch rectangle. Brush the remaining browned butter across the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the long sides. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly atop the butter. Press the sugar lightly into the dough. Starting from the long side closest to you, carefully roll the dough into a tight log. Once completely rolled, pinch the seam to seal. Turn the rolled dough onto its seam and cut into 12 equal portions. Turn each slice onto one of its flat sides, and press down lightly to level. Place slices in prepared pan. Set aside to rise in a warm, draft free spot until just about doubled in size, around 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).

Bake the buns until puffed and golden, around 20 minutes. Immediately turn the buns out onto another sheet pan. Carefully flip buns right side up, cool until just manageable to touch, around 5-10 minutes. One by one, roll the hot buns in a small bowl of granulated sugar, coating completely but shaking off excess.

Best when eaten still warm.

Makes 12. From Seven Spoons

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