Cinnamon Buns

So I have a confession to make...I have never made homemade cinnamon rolls. Sad no? So I figured I am up early with nothing better to do; the time is now. I used Peter Reinhart's recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice because I trust him and I was looking for a yeast risen dough that was more bread-like than cake-like, an enriched, but not rich dough.

He has a version for sticky buns as well. What I was envisioning was a kind of mixture between a cinnamon bun and a sticky bun, basically an un-frosted cinnamon roll with a slightly sticky filling. Not drenched in sugar, but just sweet enough. So my brilliant move was to make his cinnamon sugar filling, but use a little less sugar and add some maple syrup for stickyness and lovely maple flavor. You could definitely add some chopped walnuts or pecans, but I didn't have any and didn't miss them.

Cinnamon Buns
6 1/2 tbs sugar
1 tsp salt
5 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, room temp
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 tsp lemon extract or grated zest of 1 lemon (I used orange zest)
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or unbleached bread flour
2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/8-1 1/4 cups while milk or buttermilk
1/2 cup cinnamon maple sugar (3 1/2 tbs sugar, 3 tbs maple syrup, 1 1/2 tbs cinnamon)

1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and butter using a large metal spoon and mixing bowl. Whip in the egg and lemon extract or zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Stir by hand until the dough forms a ball. Knead for about 12-15 minutes, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover with plastic wrap.
2. Ferment at room temp for about 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. To shape buns:
(a) Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour to keep it from sicking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Don't roll out the dough too thin, or the finished buns will be tough and chewy rather than soft and plump.
(b) Spread the cinnamon maple sugar mixture over the surface of the dough and
(c) roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8-12 even pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

4. Line 1 or more sheet pans with parchment or grease with butter. Place the buns about 1/2 inch apart so that they aren't touching but are close to one another.
5. Proof at room temp for 75-90 minutes, or until the pices have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size.
6. Preheat the oven to 350 with the oven racks on the middle shelf.
7. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool the buns in pan for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

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