I used to fear desserts (or anything) made with yeast. Lately though, I’ve come to see yeast the same way I see braising: time does the work for you. Admittedly, planning ahead is a challenge for me. But in the past few years, I’ve found my most successful baking and cooking moments happen because I planned ahead.
While it’s been a tough habit for me to cultivate, rewards like these perfect buns make working ahead an easy choice.
The buns, stollen swirl buns, to be exact, are from my friend Aimée’s newest cookbook, The Simple Bites Kitchen. Forever now, I’ve admired the life Aimée and her husband have cultivated. Her beautiful urban homestead with its sprawling garden is a source of envy, as are her woodland ramp foraging trips or annual sugaring off. More than all that, Aimée is a cook who gets it. She’s balancing a family and meals and all the other stuff too. Her recipes are smart and useful, and delicious too. The Simple Bites Kitchen has a personal touch. As a reader, I felt invited into her kitchen, as though I, too, had a place at her big farm table.
As we head into the holidays, The Simple Bites Kitchen is an ideal gift for parents, and home cooks generally, looking for smart ways to incorporate more whole foods and from-scratch cooking into their day-to-day.
This year, Aimée’s cardamom stollen swirl buns will be a part of my family’s holiday. Based on a traditional German stollen bread, these swirly buns are infused with cardamom, dusted with fragrant cinnamon and allspice sugar, and dotted with dried fruit. Lightly sweet, and with a beautiful, stretchy crumb, I may not wait until Christmas morning to make them again.
These tender, chewy buns are ideal for Christmas morning, but are equally fantastic on a chilly weekend morning. I find them to be just sweet enough, brimming with cardamom and spice, with a toothsome crust and a pillowy, stretchy center. I made my buns with candied ginger in place of the candied orange peel, but added grated orange zest for brightness and fragrance.
Though the texture is best with the overnight rise, you can skip this step and do the second rise just after shaping the dough and then bake them right away. Buns should be enjoyed warm. They'll keep well for a day, though they're at their best the same day they're baked.
Recipe excerpted from The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day. Copyright © 2017 by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
- 2/3 cup 2% milk
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
- 3 tablespoons candied orange peel
- 1 tablespoon rum
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened, divided
- 3/4 cup raw cane sugar, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds*
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Heat the milk in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until scalded, then cool to wrist warm or around 110 degrees F. Pour into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Beat in 1/2 cup of the flour, then cover the bowl with a tea towel and let stand in a warm place while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In the same saucepan, combine dried cranberries, candied orange peel and rum. Warm gently, then turn off heat and let soak.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) of the soft butter with 1/2 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the salt and cardamom. Tip in the yeast sponge and add 1/2 cup of the flour. Mix on low speed until the dough comes together.
- Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, 1/2 cup at a time, mixing on low speed until a soft dough forms. Knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Remove the dough hook, cover the dough with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- On a lightly floured counter, roll out dough to a 12 x 16-inch rectangle. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup soft butter in an even layer over the dough, going right to the edges. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with cinnamon and allspice, then sprinkle evenly over the butter. Evenly scatter slivered almonds and soaked fruit over the buttered dough. Starting from a short end, tightly roll the dough into a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 12 buns, each 1-inch thick. Gently reshape them into rounds if they get overly squashed.
- Butter two 13 x 18-inch rimmed baking sheets. Place 6 buns on each sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, allow buns to rise in a warm place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. You can do this step in the oven, with the oven turned off but the oven light turned on. If you do this, make sure to remove them before preheating the oven.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Remove plastic wrap and bake buns for 22 to 24 minutes, rotating once, until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm.
*I omitted the almonds because I have a nut allergy.
Note: The publisher provided me with a copy of The Simple Bites Kitchen. As always, my opinions and love of this book are my own. Recipe and cookbook photos excerpted from The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day. Copyright © 2017 by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Photos copyright © Tim and Angela Chin. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.