Monday, December 22, 2014

Midwinter Breakfast Buns to Cheer You

Rebecca passed on a recipe to me for rugelach fingers, although she said the pastry was difficult to work with and really rich with the extraordinary filling.  So I wondered if could make sweet rolls, using the extraordinary filling.  The flavors here are, to quote Rebecca, "medieval."  Chocolate, spice, citrus, nuts, and dried fruit: no flavor family left behind!

The resulting flavor is delicious: deep, dark, exotic, although the ingredients are pretty much pantry staples. I have to confess that my family was not as keen on these buns as I was, but I love them - even better the next day (I'm eating one with a glass of milk as I type). They are wonderful with applesauce or some slices of orange on the side, and deep black coffee.

I named these Midwinter Buns, thinking of the poem by Christina Rossetti, usually set to music:

        In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan, 
 earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone; 
 snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow, 
 in the bleak midwinter, long ago.

 Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain; 
 heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign. 
 In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed 
 the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ. 

 Angels and archangels may have gathered there, 
 cherubim and seraphim thronged the air; 
 but his mother only, in her maiden bliss, 
 worshiped the beloved with a kiss. 

 What can I give him, poor as I am? 
 If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb; 
 if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; 
 yet what I can I give him:  give my heart.

Midwinter Breakfast Buns (cobbled together by me from disparate recipes)

In a bread bowl, whisk together well:
1 Tbsp. instant yeast
1 cup warm milk
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. melted butter or oil
1 egg (preferably room temperature)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp. gluten (optional - helps keep whole grain dough light)

Allow this slurry to set for 15 minutes if you have time or start on the filling. Otherwise, proceed.
By hand, gradually stir in 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, starting up the kneading, ideally using the lesser amount of flour for the most tender buns. The dough will be sticky. Knead it into a ball. Grease the ball and the bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and allow to rise until doubled (this can take a while in the cold midwinter kitchen - you can speed it up with some steamy heat).

Make the exotic filling. Combine and set aside:
1 cup finely chopped semisweet chocolate (I threw chocolate chips in the food processor)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and cooled, chopped finely
3/4 cup raisins or currants
scant 1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
zest of half an orange
3 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3 Tbsp. salted butter, melted and cooled
pinch salt

Once dough is risen, roll it out to roughly 12x9" rectangle (if the dough is oiled enough, I usually skip flouring the counter here - your call). Dollop and spread the filling evenly over the dough. Roll up, starting with a long side - I use a wide bench scraper to help. Use a serrated knife to cut into 1" slices. 

 Lay slices cut side down in a greased 9x13 pan. Cover. Refrigerate 2-24 hours (very handy to serve for breakfast!). To bake, remove buns from fridge and uncover at room temperature for 10-15 minutes. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.

Note: to skip the refrigerator rise, allow sliced buns to rise again at room temperature. Then bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.  


Lisa said...

This looks awfully good Margo, and since I'm again getting into bread making, I really want to try it. I need to practice making rolls.
Why the corn syrup? I don't think I have any at the moment - would honey do?

Unknown said...

Years ago Costco sold small chocolate rugelachs. They were amazing! I think they used cream cheese too :)

Margo said...

Lisa, the corn syrup is straight from the original recipe. I'm guessing it helps keep the filling cohesive. I think honey would work fine - and add another layer of medieval flavor :)

Dusa said...

I see Christmas morning yumminess!

Gina said...

Yum! Not that I need another recipe to tempt me at this time of year but this looks really good. Maybe a New Year's brunch?

jenny_o said...

They do look good. Like a cinnamon roll on steroids :)

Hazel said...

They do look- and sound- delicious. I think the flavour mix would keep all my family happy.

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...


Kristin said...

We made these for Christmas morning. And we loved them. Thank you for sharing a new tradition.

Sarah Barry said...

These look so yummy and textured. I love a lot of texture in my food.

Tracy said...

I would swap out the corn syrup for honey as I do in pecan pie, and proceed.