This recipe for Croissant Morning Buns makes an excellent baking project for a cozy winter weekend. Start them Friday evening and they'll be ready to devour first thing Sunday morning.
I've had an obsession with buttery, flaky pastries - like these croissant morning buns - for as long as I can remember. This recipe falls under the "labor of love" category. If you, like me, love buttery, flaky pastries and long, challenging baking projects, then this post is for you. Read on.
What is a Croissant Morning Bun?
Croissant morning buns - or, well, any morning buns - aren't super common here on the east coast. They're much more of a midwestern / west coast thing. They fall into the same category as cinnamon rolls, but morning buns tend to be a little lighter, not as sweet, and usually made with a puff pastry or a laminated, croissant-like dough. I made this recipe first since it had "best" in the title, but it used more of a brioche dough, and while they certainly weren't bad, they just weren't what I was after. That's why I've specified croissant morning buns in the title, because that's what these are: a glorious mashup between a croissant and a sticky bun.
What Does Laminated Mean?
Croissant dough is what's known as a laminated dough, like puff pastry or danish. Lamination refers to the process of rolling and folding thin sheets of butter in dough to create puffed layers and crispy flakes once baked. This is perhaps one of the more intimidating baking procedures, and while I'm certainly no stranger to the struggle, it's a fun and rewarding technique to learn. Don't get frustrated if your croissant morning buns don't turn out perfect the first time - it's normal. Baking, like anything else, is a practice. Yet unlike most other things, even when the results are less-than-perfect, they're usually still pretty delicious - and that always counts as a win in my book.
How Are Croissant Morning Buns Made?
This recipe for croissant morning buns is a slight adaptation from the famous Tartine morning buns. This recipe does take a substantial amount of time, but most of it is inactive. Your best bet is to start these croissant morning buns on a Friday evening, work on them all day Saturday, and then they'll be be ready to bake off on Sunday morning. As long as you don't have to leave the house for longer than an hour on Saturday, the process can actually be pretty leisurely.
The first step to making these croissant morning buns is to make a preferment, which adds structure and flavor to the dough. From there, the dough is made and then the lamination happens. This step is the trickiest, but don't let it scare you. The key, as I've learned, is to have the butter at the right consistency.
You want the butter to be somewhere between firm and soft, cool, but not cold, and definitely not warm. It sounds tricky, but you'll know when you're there. It needs to be malleable enough to spread into an even layer, but not so soft that it's like icing a cake. The best way to achieve this is by beating cold butter in a stand mixer for a few minutes. Focus on getting this right and you shouldn't have any problems.
The butter gets spread out onto the dough and then folded again and again. This is what creates all those gorgeous flaky layers in the finished croissant morning buns. After each fold or "turn", the dough will need to chill a bit before doing it again. The folding itself is really pretty quick and easy, but it's the overall process that can seem daunting.
The laminated dough then gets rolled up with a filling of even more butter, cinnamon, sugar, and orange zest, then it gets plopped into a buttered and sugared muffin tin. Once baked, the dough puffs up to become light and crisp, while the butter and sugar caramelize together to create the most incredible flavor and texture. The shattering crunch of the outer layers, the tender inner crumb, the sticky sweet caramel on the bottom, and the little bits of butter that gush out when you bite down. Come onnnnnn.
These are worth every bit of effort as well as all the calories.
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