Breakfast foods are usually my favorite foods. This is not only because I love eggs, bacon, potatoes and other breakfast staples, but because I love breakfast pastries, from coffee cake to croissants. Morning Buns are a particular favorite of mine and I recently started making them at home. The buns start with a batch of my Overnight Croissant Dough. The dough is quite a bit easier to make than traditional croissant dough and is a great way to dip your toe into making laminated doughs at home. Croissant dough, unlike puff pastry dough, has yeast in it to give the pastry extra rise. The end result is a pastry that is both light and flaky, and that both what we want to see in a croissant and in a morning bun.
There are two things that differentiate morning buns from croissants. The first is the shape, as morning buns are rolled into a spiral and placed in a muffin pan to bake to produce a pastry with a round shape. The second is that morning buns are generously coated with sugar, which gives them a delicious caramel sweetness and produces an extra-crisp exterior on the pastries. For those of you who might not have had a morning bun, they are not as sweet as cinnamon buns (and are lighter in texture), but the idea is similar.
Once your croissant dough has risen – I like doing an overnight rise, which is why I call my croissant recipe an overnight one – and is ready to shape, that is when you start to separate morning buns from croissants. The dough is rolled out and cut into rectangular strips, rather than the triangular shapes you would use for a croissant. Each strip of dough is generously coated in a cinnamon-sugar mixture, then rolled up into a spiral and placed in a buttered muffin cup. I do not recommend using paper liners because you really want the exterior of the pastries to be nice and crisp.
My cinnamon sugar mixture is just that: cinnamon and sugar with a pinch of salt. The sugar is integral to the texture of the buns and you aren’t going to use all of it, so don’t worry that your pastries will be overly sweet. I like the simple cinnamon-sugar combo because you can’t go wrong with it. I’ve had morning buns that have a wide variety of flavors added to them, including dried fruits, citrus zest and other spices. It’s nice for variety, but I find that I always come back to basics.
The buns will have to rise after the are shaped and the will puff up to fill up the baking cups. They will probably rise a bit over the top of the cups, too, which is fine! Once they’ve risen, bake until they are dark golden brown. The finished pastries will be ready to eat as soon as they are cool enough to handle. They should have a sweet, caramelized exterior and a fluffy, tender center.
This recipe makes 8 morning buns, which is more than enough to share. Leftover buns can be reheated for a few minutes in a warm over to re-crisp the exterior of the pastries and soften up the centers. They are at their absolute best, however, when they are fresh. They might take a little more work than your average batch of muffins, but they will take a lot less hands-on time than you might think and are worth the effort to give them a try!
Homemade Morning Buns
1 batch Overnight Croissant Dough
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Prepare Overnight Croissant Dough to the point where the dough has rested and risen overnight, and is ready to be shaped.
Roll out pastry into a large rectangle that is about 1/4-inch thick. Fold the pastry in thirds, as if folding a letter to fit in an envelope (pictured above). Rotate pastry 90-degrees, roll into a flat sheet and repeat folding process. Wrap pastry in plastic wrap and chill for 20-30 minutes. Unwrap chilled pastry and complete two more “folds.” Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 60 minutes before cutting the dough to shape.
Butter 8 cavities of a muffin tin.
In a small bowl, whisk together sugar, cinnamon and salt.
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a large rectangle that is about 1/4-inch thick and about three times as long as it is tall. Cut into 8 long rectangles. Generously cover both sides of the pastry strips with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Roll the rectangles into spirals, and place each roll in a buttered muffin cup. Sprinkle a bit of additional sugar on top, if desired. You will probably not use all of the sugar.
Very loosely cover the muffin tin with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until about doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Bake the morning buns for 10 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 375 F and bake for about 15 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Transfer croissants to a wire rack to cool before serving.
Makes 8 morning buns.