With inspiration from a variety of sources. They're cinnamon rolls mashed up with the morning buns from Tartine Bakery and Café, along with a touch of a bostock, in accordance with the specifications of the sort of pastries my family likes. Just a head's up, the Danish dough requires at least an overnight rest — so plan accordingly.
1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup golden brown sugar
Zest of 1 orange, depending on taste (if you happen to have 3 clementines, use them)
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
A good pinch of kosher salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces, 3/4 stick) browned butter, cooled
All-purpose flour for dusting
2 pounds quick Danish dough, recipe below
Combine sugars, zest, spices and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
Brush the wells of a 12-cup muffin tin (see note) with a thin film of browned butter, using maybe 1 tablespoon in total. Set aside the rest. Coat the wells generously with granulated sugar, tapping out excess. Set aside.
On a lightly-floured work surface, roll your Danish dough to an 8x20-inch rectangle. Brush the remaining browned butter across the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border on the long sides. Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly atop the butter. Press the sugar lightly into the dough. Starting from the long side closest to you, carefully roll the dough into a tight log. Once completely rolled, pinch the seam to seal. Turn the rolled dough onto its seam and cut into 12 equal portions. Turn each slice onto one of its flat sides, and press down lightly to level. Place slices in prepared pan. Set aside to rise in a warm, draft free spot until just about doubled in size, around 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
Bake the buns until puffed and golden, around 20 minutes. Immediately turn the buns out onto another sheet pan. Carefully flip buns right side up, cool until just manageable to touch, around 5-10 minutes. One by one, roll the hot buns in a small bowl of granulated sugar, coating completely but shaking off excess.
Best when eaten still warm.
For ease of baking, 12 buns work best. However, my preference is to make 14, cutting the dough into 1 1/2-inch slices and dividing the buns between two muffin pans — one 12-cup and one 6-cup. I like this size as they stay neat in the tins, and make for the (slightly) more modest bun as seen in the photos.
QUICK DANISH DOUGH
The is a whole wheaten adaptation of Nigella Lawson's Food Processor Danish Pasty Dough from How to be a Domestic Goddess, which I make by hand (a modest effort for less dishes). It can, of course, be pulsed together in a processor instead.
¼ cup warm water
½ cup milk, at room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature and lightly beaten
A few drops almond extract, optional
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
¾ cup whole wheat bread flour
2 ¼ teaspoons (1 packet) active dry yeast
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup (8 ounces, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small dice
In a small pitcher or measuring cup, stir together the water, milk, egg and almond extract, if using.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, sugar and yeast. Scatter the cubed butter across the flour mixture. With two knives or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mix, as you would in making biscuits or pastry. Stop cutting once the butter is distributed but chunks still visible.
Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture, then pour in the milk/egg mixture. Stir quickly to bring everything together into a messy dough. It won’t be pretty, it will be shaggy and sticky and uneven. Not to worry. As long as the flour is all combined, it is ready to go. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight, or as much as two days.
When ready to proceed, bring the dough to room temperature. On a lightly-floured surface, roll out the dough to a 20-inch square. (The dough may be hard to work with on the first rolling, but it will get silkier and easier with each turn.) Fold the dough in thirds, as with a business letter. Turn the package 90 degrees counter-clockwise, so that the closed ends are to your left. Roll out again to a 20-inch square, and fold again, then turn. Repeat the process of rolling and turning 3 more times, 5 folds and turns in total. If the dough seems to be getting sticky or greasy, chill briefly in between turns.
Wrap the dough in clingfilm and refrigerate for 20 minutes before using, or freeze for a later date.
Makes 2 pounds.