Fall has definitely hit. It's chilly outside. And this morning there was a cold looking rain. I wasn't going outside. Actually, I was trapped inside all weekend with a nasty case of the flu. The Brain, I think, was worried I was going to permanently meld with the couch. Fortunately, yesterday I took a turn for the better. And by last night I was back to my normal self. I even was back to yelling at the TV during the Rachel Maddow Show. And rooting for Warren Sapp as he hustled across the dance floor. I admit it. I'm a Dancing With the Stars junkie.
So at some point this weekend while I lay on the couch staring at my bookshelves, which are full of cookbooks, I realized that I do really have a bunch of cookbooks that I haven't cooked from. One of them is Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads. Now this book was a birthday present (that I picked out for myself) last year. And I just haven't planned ahead enough to make any of the breads out of it. So there I was with the time to plan and no real desire to cook. Yes I was definitely sick. But the thing is, I have a loaf of Zingerman's Whole Wheat Farm Bread on my counter that I've been slowly working my way through. I really didn't need any more bread.
But I did find a recipe in this cookbook / bread making manual for some Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns. Fabulous! The recipe reminds me a little bit of the Julia Child French Bread Recipe. It's very long. But in the margins is a nice little commentary that gives the bread profile (Enriched, medium soft dough; delayed fermentation method; commercial yeast) and tells how many days it will take to make (2) as well as a breakdown of how long each step will take. So I feel like the recipe really wants me to succeed. I still haven't found any instant yeast and am seriously thinking I may have to pick some up online, but earlier in the book there is a little commentary that says if you want to use active dry yeast, that's fine, just increase the amount by 25% and hydrate in 2 oz. of the lukewarm water (about 100°F.) for 2 to 5 minutes. So I tried to do that. But then I ended up adding a lot more flour because the final dough recipe called for more instant yeast, but no additional liquid. So I did what I figure I had to do and added 2 ounces of water. I sort of figured that if I added the yeast without any extra hydrating it wouldn't do anything. If anyone has a better idea I'm open to suggestions.
As a result, I did have more than the 8 to 10 buns that the recipe called for. I got 12. And I think they are really good. The Brain came home for lunch and he thought they were like eating whole wheat bread. But to be fair, he took an end piece that maybe I didn't get the cinnamon and sugar all the way to the end on. And he took it without frosting. I took a bite of mine and went back and made more frosting to dribble on top. They aren't as sweet as say those sickly sweet deep-fried ones at the grocery store, but I think they're better than them. And really, this is the kind of cinnamon roll I could eat for breakfast with a steaming hot cup of coffee. And best of all, although hard to believe, these are low fat (only about 2g each), high in fiber (over 7g each!) and they're made with whole wheat flour exclusively so you could even convince yourself they're sort of healthy.
Time for a healthy breakfast!
Whole Wheat Cinnamon Buns
closely adapted from Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp (.14 ounces) salt
3/4 cup (6 ounces) 1% milk
Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in a bowl for about 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight (12 to 24 hours).
1 3/4 cups (8 ounces) whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp (heaping) active dry yeast
3 ounces 1% milk (a little more than 1/3 cup)
2 ounces lukewarm water (about 100°F./ 38°C.)
1 large egg slightly beaten
Hydrate the active dry yeast in the 2 ounces of water and let stand for 5 minutes.
Mix all of the Biga ingredients together in a bowl to form a ball of dough. Using wet hands, knead the dough in the bowl for 2 minutes to be sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated. The dough should feel very tacky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead it again with wet hands for 1 minute. The dough will become smoother but still tacky.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 3 days.
About 2 hours before mixing the final dough, remove the biga from the refrigerator to take off the chill. It will have risen slightly but need not have risen significantly in order to use it in the final dough.
Use all soaker
Use all biga
7 Tbsp (2 oz.) whole wheat flour
5/8 tsp (.18 oz.) salt
3 3/8 tsp active dry yeast
2 ounces lukewarm (100°F./ 38°C.) water
3 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 Tbsp brown sugar (or more to taste)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon (or more to taste)
2 cups powdered sugar
4 Tbsp 1% milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Hydrate the yeast in the 2 ounces of lukewarm water for 5 minutes.
Using a pastry scraper, chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces each (sprinkle some additional flour over the pre-doughs to keep the pieces from sticking back to each other.)
Put the pre-dough pieces in the bowl along with the 7 Tbsp flour, salt, yeast, honey, and butter. Mix on slow speed with the paddle attachment for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Switch to the dough hook if need be and mix on medium-low speed, occasionally scraping down the bowl, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the pre-doughs become cohesive and assimilated into each other. Add more flour as needed until the dough is soft and slightly sticky. (If you're using active dry yeast and extra water, you will need to add a bunch of flour).
Dust a work surface with flour, then roll the dough in the flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3 to 4 minutes, incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you are preparing a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
Resume kneading the dough for 1 minute to strengthen the gluten and made any final four or water adjustments. The dough should have strength and pass the windowpane test, yet still feel soft, and very tacky. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, until it is about 1 1/2 times it's original size.
When the dough has risen, dust the work surface with about 1 Tbsp of the extra flour and gently transfer the dough to the floured work surface with a plastic bowl scraper (try not to rip or tear the dough). Roll the dough out to a 9-inch square approximately 1/2 inch thick. (My square turned out to be more of a 12-inch square). Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon sugar all over the surface (making sure to get the edges) and roll it up into a tight loaf. Slice the dough into 1 inch thick slices and lay them out, 1 inch apart on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Mist the top of the buns with pan spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, until the buns are nearly double in size.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (240°C.) Place the pan on the middle shelf, lower the temperature to 350°F (177°C.) and bake for 15 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue baking for another 10 to 15 minutes. While the buns are baking mix together glaze ingredients. The buns will be a rich brown and very springy when poked in the center. If they still seem doughy, continue baking.
Remove the pan from the oven and cool the buns for 5 minutes before glazing.
I'm a real American and I'm voting for Barak Obama. Although I do have the urge to point out that all you big city people aren't real Americans. You bunch of phonies! hee hee!