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Note: For sticky buns, be sure to use pans with at least 2" high walls, as the slurry will bubble and foam while baking and could run out of pan with a shallow rim. The usual amount of slurry is to cover the bottom of the pan to a thickness of approximately 1/4".
• 8 cups Unbleached all purpose flour
• 1 2/3 teaspoons (2 1/4 teaspoons if using coarse kosher salt)
• 6 tablespoons Granulated sugar
• 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons Milk or low fat milk (lukewarm)
• 5 teaspoons Instant yeast
• 1/2 cup Vegetable oil or melted butter
• Lemon zest, extract, or oil (optional)
1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the instant yeast to the lukewarm milk and stir to dissolve, and then add it to the flour mixture. Add the oil or butter, and the lemon zest, extract or oil (if using). Mix on slow speed with the paddle attachment (or by hand) for 30 seconds to 1 minute, to create a soft, coarse ball of dough. Switch to the dough hook and increase to medium low speed, and continue mixing for 4 minutes to create a smooth, soft, slightly sticky ball of dough.
2. Adjust the flour or milk, as needed, and increase to medium speed and mix for 2 additional minutes. The dough should be very soft and supple, tacky but not sticky. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead it by hand for another minute, and then form it into a ball. Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, large enough to accommodate the dough when it doubles in size. Cover the bowl (not the dough itself) tightly with plastic wrap, and put it in the refrigerator overnight or for up to 4 days.
3. When ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator 3 hours before you plan to bake it and immediately form it to the desired shapes and sizes (see below for options). Once the product is shaped, mist the tops lightly with spray oil and cover them loosely with plastic wrap. Proof the dough at room temperature or in a warm oven, as described for each type of product below. Most of these products will be baked at 350° F/177º C., and garnished as described (smaller products, like the thumbprint rolls, will be baked at 400ºF./204º C.)
1. On the day of the bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator three hours before you plan to bake and divide it in half. Form each piece into a round (or return one of the pieces to the refrigerator to be used another time). Cover each round with a bowl or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
2. Roll out each ball out on a floured work surface into a 12" square (always roll from the center to the corners and then to the sides). If the dough shrinks back, let it rest for a minute and then continue rolling. The dough should be between 1/4" and 1/2" thick.
3. Make cinnamon sugar by whisking together 3 tablespoons of ground cinnamon and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar (enough for both dough balls). Brush the surface of the dough with melted butter or vegetable oil and then cover the surface with the cinnamon sugar (leave a 1/4" border around the perimeter without cinnamon sugar). You can also sprinkle raisins and/or chopped nuts over the surface. Roll up the dough like a carpet, into a tight log.
4. Cut the log into 6 to 8 spiral buns, about 1" in thickness, and place each bun face up (spiral side up) on a sheet pan that has been lined with baking parchment or a silpat (or use a round 9" cake pan, lightly oiled or misted with pan spray). Allow 1 1/2" between each piece-they will rise to touch each other.
5. Mist the top of the buns with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Proof at room temperature for about 2 hours; the spiral should swell noticeably and the buns nearly touching.
6. Bake at 350° F./177º C. for 10 minutes.
7. Rotate the pan and continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until the buns are a rich golden brown; total baking time should be approximately 20 to 25 minutes.
8. Meanwhile, make a fondant or cream cheese glaze to drizzle over the baked cinnamon buns after they have cooled for 5 to 10 minutes (see below for glaze recipes).
White Fondant Glaze
• 4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
• 2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional-keeps it smoother)
• 1 teaspoon vanilla, lemon, or orange extract, or 1 tablespoon orange juice concentrate (all optional-you can also make it with no extracts)
• 1/2 to 3/4 cup milk or water, cold or room temperature (milk makes it creamier and softer than water)
1. Mix the sifted powdered sugar, corn syrup, and extract together.
2. Whisk in the milk or water, adding in only enough to make a thick but creamy fondant glaze, about the same thickness as pancake batter. If the fondant is too stiff, whisk in more liquid. If the fondant is too thin and runny, add more sifted powdered sugar. The thickness of the glaze is up to you; the stiffer it is the better it will hold its design; the thinner it is the more easily it will spread. Ideally, you should be able to drizzle a slow steady stream off the end of a whisk, spoon, fork, or fingers to create designs that will firm up when the buns cool.
Cream Cheese Glaze
• 4 oz. cream cheese
• 2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
• 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 teaspoon lemon or orange extract (or 1 teaspoon lemon juice or orange liqueur)
• A pinch of salt
1. Use the paddle attachment on slow speed, or a large spoon, to cream together the cream cheese, melted butter, and sugar.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and continue creaming, on medium speed, until the ingredients form a smooth paste.
3. Increase the speed to medium high for about 20 seconds to fluff up the glaze. Use this as an alternative to the fondant glaze, but spread it on with a spatula or icing spreader. Unused glaze can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.