If you're not familiar with Morning Buns, let me introduce you to your new obsession. Meet Morning Buns, the flakey, buttery pastry dressed in a cinnamon brown sugar and orange zest swirl. Morning Buns are similar to cinnamon rolls, except the dough is made from croissant dough. The croissant dough produces the tender, flakey, buttery layers that you just can't get from normal cinnamon roll dough.
Wait!! Don't run away screaming. I know I said croissant dough, which probably has you sweating just thinking about it. BUT! There is a sort of "cheater" way to make croissant dough that has been circling the interwebs. I tried it for these, and I was able to make the dough, with all the layers, in about 45 minutes. (Compared to like 10 hours for the usual croissant dough). Just stick with me, okay?
If you're like me, you love the Starbucks Morning Buns. They're filled with a cinnamon sugar and orange zest. Starbucks Morning Buns are my guilty pleasure. Peeling away the delicate layers, the gooey filling, and the delightful surprise of the orange zest make them unforgettable.
Yes, I enjoy pastries from Starbucks (and just called one "unforgettable"). Yes I am giving you a cheater way to make croissant dough. Don't judge. I'm usually a purist when it comes to most techniques, but I'm feeling a little devious. Come to the dark side, I promise it's much easier, and tastes just as delicious!
These buns are LEGEN-wait for it....-DARY! (Anyone??)
While they don't take nearly as long as traditional croissants to make, they do require a bit of time. It takes about 45 minutes to create the dough and layers, and then it will need to sit in the refrigerator for at least 1 1/2 hours to harden the butter. Then it will be rolled out and covered with the filling, rolled and sliced into buns, and then the buns will need about 45 minutes of sitting to puff up a bit before baking. They take about 30 minutes in the oven. Sooooo.. start to finish? You could have these babies in your belly in less than 4 hours!
So what makes this dough work? Traditionally, croissant dough is made by "laminating" very cold butter into very cold dough. It requires cycles of rolling, folding, and refrigerating for a few hours. This is repeated quite a few times to create those wonderful layers of butter wrapped inside the dough. The point of keeping it all very cold is to keep from mixing the butter into the dough. Keeping them both cold helps keep them separate from each other.
However!! And I've seen this a few places now, people have tried to make it using room temperature dough and room temperature butter. This keeps them the same temperature and consistency, similar to the cold version, and if handled very carefully, should produce the same results!
After attempting it myself, I think I can proudly say that it works! I'm sure there are still slight differences, but I was completely satisfied! After only a few hours, I was peeling away the flakey buttery layers of these delicious Morning Buns. In only a few hours, you can be too.
Let's get baking!
Here the steps are summarized in pictures. Directions to follow below.
Morning Buns Recipe:
Makes 9 buns
For the butter:
2 1/2 sticks cold butter
1/4 cup plus 2 T. all-purpose flour
For the dough:
*2 cups plus 2 1/2 cups bread flour
*1/4 tsp plus 1 1/2 tsp instant dry yeast
1 1/8 cup warm water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup warm milk
* two sets of measurements show that they are separated for different steps. Read directions carefully.
For the Filling:
1/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. sugar
1 t. cinnamon
1 T. orange zest
Recipe adapted from Lady and Pups
Microwave 1 1/8 cups of water for about 30 seconds. (The water should be warm, but not hot. You should be able to leave your finger in it without discomfort). Mix the warm water with 2 cups of bread flour and 1/4 t. yeast with a fork, and set aside for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the butter by mixing the cold butter and 1/4 cup all purpose-flour in the mixer with the paddle attachment until creamy. Transfer all the butter onto parchment paper and set aside to bring to room temperature.
Switch to the dough hook, and mix the warm yeast mixture with 2 1/2 cups bread flour, brown sugar, 1 1/2 t. yeast, and warm milk (microwaved for 30 secs). Mix on low until evenly incorporated, and then increase to med-high for about 5 minutes. The dough will be very wet and sticky, but will pull cleanly away from the sides. Transfer the dough onto a generously floured surface.
Dust the top of the dough and a rolling pin with flour. Shape the dough into a rectangle and roll it out to apx. 13" x 33". Continue to dust the dough with flour as needed.
Scatter dollops of the butter evenly over the rolled out dough. Gently rub/smear the butter evenly across the sheet, all the way to the edges. Be very careful not to tear the dough, or press to hard and mix the butter into the dough.
Using a dough-scraper to lift one side of the sheet up, fold it 5 times over until you get to the end. Now you have 5 layers of butter inside.
Gently pinch the ends together to create one cohesive looking block. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and poke a few holes with a toothpick to release the air as you roll it out again.
Roll the dough out to another 33" long rectangle. Fold 5 or 6 times more, until you reach the end of the dough.
Gently place on a floured cookie sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 1/2 hours or over night, to let the butter harden.
To make the buns:
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Prepare the filling by mixing cinnamon, sugar, brown sugar, and orange zest.
Take the dough out and transfer to a floured surface. Roll the dough out to apx 18" x 10". Basically a big rectangle with the dough no thicker than 1/2 an inch.
Sprinkle the dough with 3/4 of the sugar mixture and spread it evenly over the dough.
Gently roll the dough from the long side, all the way.
Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll to create the buns. For very large buns, cut 4-5 inches apart. For medium sized buns cut 3 inches apart.
Set in buttered ramekins or a cookie sheet, or a 9-inch pan to proof. Give them about 45 minutes to puff up a bit.
Sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture, and bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.
Let cool, and enjoy!