Combine the rich layers of a croissant with the sweet swirls of a cinnamon bun and you’ll have one of our favorite brunch pastries: morning buns.
For a simpler route to a yeasted, croissant-like pastry, we added a packet of yeast to a quick puff pastry dough. We created long, thin pieces of flake-producing butter by adding chilled butter to the dry ingredients in a zipper-lock bag and rolling over it with a rolling pin. Orange zest and juice offered sweet, citrusy brightness.
We at America’s Test Kitchen started our rolls in a hot oven for a rapid rise but later dropped the temperature to impart gradual, even browning. If the dough becomes too soft to work with at any point, refrigerate it until it’s firm enough to easily handle. Unrisen buns can be refrigerated for at least 16 hours or up to 24 hours; let buns sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.
Start to finish: 1 hour, 30 minutes (not including 1 hour, 15 minutes to 1 hour, 45 minutes freezing
and rising time)
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
21/4 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
24 tablespoons (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 inch
slices and chilled
1 cup sour cream, chilled
1/4 cup orange juice, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed (3-1/2 ounces)
light brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the dough Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in 1 gallon zipper-lock bag. Add butter to bag, seal, and shake to coat. Press air out of bag and reseal. Roll over bag several times with rolling pin, shaking bag after each roll, until butter is pressed into large flakes.
Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in sour cream, orange juice, ice water, and egg yolk with wooden spoon until combined. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds.
Press and roll dough into 20 by 12 inch rectangle, with short side parallel to counter edge. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go.
With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 12-by-4 inch rectangle. Transfer to parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and freeze for 15 minutes.
For the filling: Line 12 cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners and spray with vegetable oil spray. Combine all ingredients in bowl. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and roll into 20-by-12 inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge. Sprinkle with sugar mixture, leaving 1/2 inch border around edges, and press lightly to adhere.
Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Pinch seam closed, then reshape cylinder as needed to be 20 inches in length with uniform thickness.
Using serrated knife, trim 1/2 inch dough from each end and discard. Cut cylinder into 12 pieces and place cut side up in muffin cups. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 F. Bake until buns begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 F. Continue to bake until buns are deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let buns cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and discard liners. Serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving: 431 calories; 238 calories from fat; 27 g fat (17 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 84 mg cholesterol; 160 mg sodium; 44 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 19 g sugar; 4 g protein.