Dana Treat – Treat Yourself

Sugar Buns

Posted January 10, 2013

Sugar Buns

More From More from Macrina
Makes 12 buns

The initial part of this recipe, for the dough, is a great master brioche recipe. The book includes tantalizing things like Cocoa Puffs (like a pain au chocolat but with brioche dough), Kugelhopf, and Apple Cinnamon Pull-Aparts that you can make with this dough. You could also form it into a loaf pan, bake it off, and have an incredible vehicle for your favorite salted butter and jam.

For the Sweet Brioche Dough:
¼ cup lukewarm water (about 80F)
½ cup sugar, divided
1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
¾ cup lukewarm whole milk (about 80F)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3 ½ cups (1 pound) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Lightly oil a medium bowl with canola oil. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the water with 2 teaspoons sugar (taken from the ½ cup sugar). Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water. Mix until the yeast is dissolved, then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to activate the yeast.

Add the milk, vanilla, eggs, flour, and salt. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes to bring the dough together, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed. Increase to medium speed; pinch off grape-size pieces of butter and drop them one at a time into the dough as it mixes (this should take no more than 2 minutes). Continue mixing for 2 to 3 more minutes. Now gradually add the remaining sugar (½ cup minus the 2 teaspoons) and continue mixing for a final 4 minutes. With floured fingers, pinch a big piece of dough and pull it away from the mass. It should stretch about 3 inches without tearing – it will feel a bit like a rubber band. If it tears, mix for another 1 to 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface. For the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, 2 ½ to 3 hours. (If you are making the dough ahead – either for convenience or to develop more complex flavors – simply deflate it after this initial rise, then re-cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next day, pull it out 2 hours before you want to use it, and allow it to come to room temperature. The dough should be doubled in size and feel slightly warm to the touch. This dough is best used by the second day. If you’d like to freeze brioche dough, it’s best to form it into the desired shape, brush it with egg wash, wrap it well, and freeze for up to a week.)

For the Sugar Buns:
1 recipe Sweet Brioche Dough
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water, for egg wash
6 ounces (¾ cup) fromage blanc
1 large egg
2 tbsp. sugar, plus about ½ cup for topping buns
2 cups fresh berries
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Using a rubber spatula, pull the brioche dough onto a floured work surface. Using your hands, flatten and shape the dough into a 7-by-12-inch rectangle. (Do your best to keep the dough an even thickness.) Using a bench knife or plastic scraper, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces by first cutting the rectangle in half lengthwise, then cutting each long piece in half vertically, and finally, cutting each half into 3 pieces.

Roll each piece into a 12-inch rope: First roll it into a log. Coil the rope (starting from the center and working out), forming a circle that ends up being about 3 inches in diameter. Tuck the ends under. (DT: I found the dough was really fighting me at first, so I let it rest for 10 minutes. Then it was much easier to work with.) Put 6 buns on each prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart – they will expand when proofing. Brush the buns with the egg wash, cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap, and let them rise until they are 4 inches in diameter, about 1 hour at room temperature.

Meanwhile, whisk together the fromage blanc, egg, and the 2 tablespoons sugar in a medium bowl. Set aside.

About 20 minutes before baking, position 2 racks in the center of the oven and preheat to 375ºF.

Flatten a 1½-inch circle in the center of a bun and spoon a heaping tablespoon of the cheese mixture into the indentation. Top with a few berries (you may need to quarter large berries such as strawberries). Repeat with the remaining buns. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are deep golden brown. Halfway through baking, rotate the pans to ensure the buns bake evenly. Cool on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Put the ½ cup sugar in a pie pan. Lightly brush the melted butter on the top and sides of the buns. Roll each bun in the sugar, coating the buttered area first and then sprinkling a little sugar on the berries.

(DT: While I will tell you to absolutely eat these the day they are made, they are still pretty darn good the next day if you wrap them in foil and leave them out at room temp.)

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