Saturday, November 15
It's my birthday weekend, and not surprisingly, everything I've planned revolves around food. It's supposed to be rainy and dreary, which means baking. And last week I was gone for a long and tiring week volunteering in New Orleans, so this weekend I'm all about relaxation, sweatpants and movies. I also had the flu at the beginning of the week, so I've earned the right to a little bit of pampering, and apparently gluttony as well. I'm usually so sensible, but apparently this trait does not apply to yours truly when presented with a big steamy plate of warm, soft cinnamon pecan buns.
A few things. These are made with cottage cheese in the dough, which makes them super soft and tender, and in my mind makes them a more respectable and wholesome version of a morning bun. There's protein to balance the sugar, so that makes it borderline healthy , right? These are made almost entirely in the food processor, then rolled out and sliced, which is the fun part of making this kind of treat, so it's hardly work at all. The dough is super soft and pliable, and couldn't be easier to work with. It's also spiked with vanilla and orange zest, so it tastes heavenly. And there's no yeast or rising involved at all, so they're friendly even to those of you who don't fancy yourselves bakers.
In the spirit of gluttony and with the knowledge that there's a long winter ahead (or just because they tasted so darn good) Dustin and I at half the pan of these. Really, it sounds worse than it was.
Cinnamon Pecan Buns
Food and Wine, December 2008
Makes about 12 Buns
4 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3/4 cup pecans
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated orange zest (its says optional, but I wouldn't skip it)
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan with half of the melted butter.
In a food processor, combine the pecans with the brown sugar, cinnamon and koser salt; pulse until the nuts are almost finely ground. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and sprinkle a scant 3/4 cup over the bottom of the prepared pan. Wipe out the food processor.
Add the cottage cheese, buttermilk, egg yolk, granulated sugar, vanilla and orange zest to the processor and puree until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine the 2 1/4 cups flour with the baking powder, baking soda and fine salt; whisk to mix. Add the flour mixture to the processor and pulse just until the dough comes together; it will be quite soft and sticky.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather it into a smooth ball. Roll out the dough to an 11 x 16 inch rectangle, flouring the work surface as necessary. Brush the dough with the remaining melted butter, leaving a 1/2 inch border all around. Sprinkle on the remaining pecan-sugar mixture.
Working from a long side, roll the dough into a tight cynlinder and cut it into 1-inch slices. Arrange the slices cut side up in the prepared pan. Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 25 minutes, until lightly browned on top and slightly firm to the touch. Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove the springform ring. Invert the buns onto a plate and carefully remove the bottom of the pan, scraping any of the pecan mixture that has sticked to the pan onto the top of the buns.
Note: The buns can be prepared up to two days ahead of time and rewarmed in a 350 degree oven.