Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Small Batch Bread Baking--Cinnamon Buns

Small Batch Breads, Cinnamon Rolls

Recently, I heard about the book "Small Batch Baking," on  the"Karen's Kitchen Stories" website. I made the small caramel pecan tarts she adapted and posted. Then, I found the book in our local library.  It was exciting to make smaller quantities of desserts I have been craving. But there wouldn't bee a lot of leftovers to tempt my waistline. After making several of the recipes, I ordered the book and the library copy was returned.

At the same time, I got interested in "The Bread Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  Her recipes are superb; she has a science background and applies it to baking.  In her blog,  she mentioned ordering a two quart cast iron dutch oven so she could make smaller breads for her 2 person household.  There seems to be a number of small households who would love small bread sized recipes!

The "Small Batch Baking" book seemed to be mostly pastry, but I was eyeing the cinnamon bun recipe. It made only 4 cinnamon buns, and used a hot roll mix.  There wasn't a sweet yeast dough recipe in the book. I thought, "the cinnamon buns deserve a decadent and sweet dough. As a bread baker, I can do that from scratch!"

Many cinnamon bun dough recipes that were considered.  Then I saw the brioche recipe in "The Bread Bible."  It looked like it could work, if it were downsized.  I decided to streamline the recipe so it didn't need a starter sponge. 

The dough was mixed in my bread machine because I was trying to avoid hand kneading due to hand pain.  However, there was too little dough to reach the corners. It had to be mixed with a spatula.  Next time, I'll just mix it by hand; it won't take much kneading. 

Here's the dough recipe I adapted. It's still a work in progress. I figured the recipe in grams. If you use a measuring cup for the flour, spoon lightly into the cup.

Ingredient                Grams     Volume/Cups
Warm Water                            2 - 3 tsp
Granulated Sugar                    1 TBSP
Instant yeast                            1/2 tsp
Unbleached Flour    150          1/2 Cup
Egg, Large                               1
Salt                                          1/4 tsp
Unsalted Margarine                 2 1/2 TBSP

2-3 TBSP of butter to spread on dough
Cinnamon sugar mixture, (8 tsp granulated sugar to 1 tsp cinnamon).

Yeast dough baking means that you might have to add more flour and water. So start with 2 tsp of water.  Although this doesn't sound like much water, brioche has a lot more egg and butter/margarine than water.  The goal is to make a dough with a tacky touch. It should be slightly sticky when you touch it, but the dough shouldn't stick to your finger when you remove it from the dough.

I waited only about an hour for the dough to double. The hot roll mix said to wait 5 minutes after kneading, but they probably have dough conditioners. I might wait longer than an hour next time, or I might try the 5 minute wait and their 30 minute roll rise. This is a test kitchen mode, after all.

Then, I used a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a rectangle--10" x 13". It was too big. I'd suggest maybe 8"x 6", when making the buns. If the dough resists, cover it with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes before trying it again.

I Brushed 2 TBSP melted butter onto the rectangle; that seemed enough. Then, I sprinkled it with about 3 TBSP of the cinnamon sugar mixture .  I wanted to use up some cinnamon sugar mixture on hand. Next time, I think I'll try a brown sugar and cinnamon mixture, instead of granulated sugar. I'll post that when I do.

The dough was rolled up, jelly roll style, on the "short side" and cut into 4 pieces. You'll notice that the jelly roll gets longer when it's rolled up. That's why I would suggest a smaller rectangle of dough. Be sure to pinch the dough closed along the jelly roll, so it doesn't open up while it bakes.

I placed the 4 pieces into a greased loaf pan to bake, but a giant muffin pan might work better next time. If you use a muffin pan, place one bun in each greased cup. You probably want to fill the remaining cups halfway with water while they bake to protect the pan. The buns rose for about 45 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven at 350 degrees, for at least 30 minutes. This time, however, I used the toaster oven. It doesn't bake evenly, but I'm in a wheelchair right now from injuries and the toaster oven is safer for me. I turned the pan halfway around for more even baking, but they still got overbrowned. 

I wanted to use up some cream cheese frosting from my freezer this time. I'll post an icing recipe next time.

We ate the 3 of the cinnamon buns before snapping a picture.  Next time, I'll take pictures.

The shaping and baking is still a work in progress, but I think that the dough will work!