Friends! It is I, Anne, here for my annual Linzers post!
Yeah...I can't really believe I've only posted three times in the past three years...I'm sorry. The truth is, I've been all over the place, literally and figuratively: in 2017 I moved to Washington with my fiancé, was desperately lonely and unemployed for a few months, then started working at David's Bridal – at least up here, the brides were pretty great on the whole – and as the year turned I was exhausted all the time and really too poor to bake much and too uninspired to write much of anything. Then I got what I thought would be a great job – a writing job! – in May 2018, and the six months that I worked there were a blur of hideous overworkedness and even more exhaustion (and even less writing), combined with wedding planning and accompanying family drama.
In September we had our wedding – there's a pic below, because I can't resist – and I baked a boatload of cookies but didn't have the wherewithal to post. That said, I made three recipes and all were loved by the guests, so here they are: snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, and the surprise favorite, oatmeal raisin.
After the wedding, we had two weeks to pack before moving into the house we closed on four days before the wedding, and two weeks after the move we went to London to celebrate our marriage with friends there – see? I told you things have been nutso! Here's a pic from that trip, when we took the Overground in our wedding finery:
Then, two weeks after we got back from London, I went down to SF for a week for my nephew's bar mitzvah and my friend's baby shower. So it wasn't until mid-November that I had a moment to breathe and bake, and honestly with the exception of pumpkin pie I didn't have the energy to do much besides loaf (pun not intended, but definitely enjoyed) on the couch and watch Netflix between bursts of unpacking/painting/cleaning/home improvement.
But surely, if nothing else, Christmas calls for setting aside life upkeep for a minute and forcing some cheer into the everyday – as an example here's a bonus pic of our repainted mantle covered in holiday nonsense:
And in the name of said holiday cheer, I determined to bake something special for my husband (it still startles me that I actually have a husband). Now, this is a man who enjoys baked goods but will never, ever, choose room for dessert over more bites of meat – really, he'd rather have salt and vinegar chips/crisps than chocolate any day – which can be challenging for me, as a sweet tooth who relies on her partner to share in the enjoyment of/save her from indulgences. He does an admirable job, though, so this time around I really wanted to make something he would get genuinely excited about; as usual, Smitten Kitchen came through for me.
If he's not going to be eating something sour or savory, my husband will veer immediately toward the tart (no comment on my chastity, please), so when I saw these cranberry orange buns I knew he'd love them. To further tweak them in favor of his preferences, I doubled the cranberries (don't do this – while it was delicious, it caused a lot of extra juice, which led to the extra step of pouring it out and I think also made them take longer to cook) and halved the icing (I do recommend this, if you're not into super sweet stuff).
Anyway, as you probably gleaned from the title of this post, my husband loved the buns (again, no comment) – he even insisted on keeping all 12 for our household, instead of letting me give some away to neighbors! The highest of praise.
(Double) Cranberry-Orange (Breakfast) Buns
AHP Note: Deb's recipe calls for the second rise to be in the fridge overnight. That sounded perfect when my husband and I were planning to drive to California on Thursday morning. But when we learned he would have to work Thursday we pushed our early nuclear-family Christmas celebration up by 12 hours and there went my overnight rise. I recommend following the original instructions, since I'm certainly no yeasted-dough expert and I'm not at all sure my buns wouldn't have been much tenderer given a slower second rise, but if you do find yourself pressed for time it worked for me to let them rise on the counter for about 90 minutes before baking.
Make your dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer (if you don't have a stand mixer, check the SK link for detailed instructions), combine:
4 large egg yolks
1 large whole egg
1/4c (50g) granulated sugar
6 Tbsp (85g) melted butter
3/4c (175 ml) buttermilk
3/4 of the finely grated zest of 1 orange (reserving the last 1/4 for the filling)
Add, stirring until evenly moistened:
2c all-purpose flour
1 packet (7g or 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant dry yeast (AKA Bread Machine or Rapid Rise yeast)
1 1/4+ tsp coarse or kosher salt, to taste
Switch to dough hook and work in:
3/4 c flour
Knead the mixture on low for 5 to 7 minutes, until dough is soft and moist but not sticky, then scrape dough onto the clean counter or a plate while you oil the mixer bowl – put dough back into bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temp until doubled – 2-2.5 hours.
When your dough has risen, make the filling. Melt and set aside:
1 1/2 Tbsp (20g) butter
In a food processor or with a large, sharp knife, dice into 'coarse rubble' (Deb's exact words):
1c (115g) fresh cranberries
Butter a 9x13 ceramic or glass baking dish and turn your dough out onto a clean, floured counter or large cutting board (if your counter is never clean enough, like mine). Do your best to roll it into an 18x12 rectangle (evidence of my consistent failure to roll out neat edges or tidy my work space is below) – the long side should be nearest to you.
Brush the dough with your melted butter, then sprinkle on:
1c (190g) packed light brown sugar
Add your cranberry rubble and the last of your orange zest.
Roll the dough tightly along the shorter edge, resulting in an 18"-long spiral log. Cut with a very sharp, serrated knife into 1 1/2-inch wide discs. Place the buns (there should be 12, but I got 13) in the prepared baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight (up to 16 hours).
Bake the buns. Allow buns to warm up to room temp for 30 minutes while you preheat your oven to 350F/175C. Bake until the buns are puffed and golden and a thermometer inserted into the dough reads 190F (for me, this meant the corner/edge buns were a little dry – but again that's probably down to the additional moisture from cranberry overload).
When buns are cooked, place pan on cooling rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Then whisk together and pour over the top (again, I halved these measurements):
3 1/2 Tbsp (55 ml) strained orange juice
2c (240g) powdered sugar
Serve and enjoy!