It’s a new year and I’m ready for a fresh start. The time for embracing new hopes and setting new goals. Truth be told, I’ve never really found the new year to be a big motivator in making changes. I’m more of an “every day is a new start” type of person, so the need to make a big change isn’t usually needed. However, this year feels a bit different. There’s a hope and an optimism that seems to have taken place in my mind. I’m going to ride this optimism-train for as long as possible. As a firm believer in gratitude and the profound effect it can have on our happiness, I think this will be my new goal. That no matter what circumstances I find myself in this year to be thankful for having experienced them. Both the good and the bad help us to grow our character. Whether it be to show us who we do not want to be or to show us what we are capable of.
I know that a popular goal for every new year is to usually cut back on the indulgence of the holidays. Moderation is absolutely best, but deprivation is not the solution. It’s unhealthy for many physical and mental reasons. As is excess. There’s a happy middle-ground and substituting healthier options for the less-than-healthy is a good idea. However, we shouldn’t chastise ourselves for having the occasional sweet in the new year. Just not as many in one sitting and not as often. That’s where these Saffron & Cardamom Cinnamon Buns come into the picture. The dough is full of aromatic saffron threads which turns it a beautiful shade of yellow. The filling is a combination of the classic brown sugar and cinnamon, with added ground cardamom and cloves. For good measure there’s also a thin layer of high-quality dark chocolate down the center. Just a tiny sliver of it. Enough to make you smile.
This dough uses yeast to help it rise and produces a light bun. The rising times are shorter for this dough, thanks to the addition of a little extra yeast. I wanted a breakfast pastry that could be made more quickly and conveniently. This worked out perfectly. It still takes a bit of planning, but the flavor does not disappoint. Individually baking them, in a muffin tin, gives them tall glamorous peaks that are finished with a smooth icing. Plan this one for your next weekend baking project. Warm spices and fluffy dough make it worth the effort.
Saffron & Cardamom Cinnamon Buns
Makes 12 buns
6 oz (170ml) whole milk
1 tsp saffron threads
1/2 oz (14g) active dry yeast (2 packets)
3 1/2 oz (100g) sugar
3 oz (84g) unsalted butter, room temperature soft
2 large eggs
1 lb 3 oz (538g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 oz (28g) unsalted butter, melted
5 1/2 oz (156g) brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/8 tsp clove
2 oz (57g) 60%-65% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
In a small pot, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and add saffron threads. Cover and steep for 10 minutes.
Pour steeped milk into the bowl of stand mixer and add yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes to activate yeast. Add sugar, soft butter, eggs, flour, and salt. Using the dough hook attachment, on low speed, mix the ingredients until combined and dough forms (about 2 minutes). Increase speed to medium and mix dough for 6 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place at room temperature for 45 minutes.
While the dough rises, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, and clove in a small bowl. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin with cooking or baking oil.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out into an 8″ x 25″ rectangle. Brush the melted butter over the entire surface of the dough. Sprinkle on the spiced cinnamon sugar mixture. Line the chocolate along the long edge of the dough on one side. Starting with the longer chocolate-lined edge, tightly and evenly roll up dough (tuck the dough over the chocolate and this will become your chocolaty center). Pinch the seam of dough together to seal when finished rolling. Trim the two uneven ends off the log. Cut log into twelve 2″ pieces. Set each piece into its individual muffin cup (cut side up). Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place at room temperature for 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350F. Remove plastic wrap from muffin tin and place into the oven. Baked for 23-25 minutes, until buns are deep golden brown on top. Remove from oven and transfer buns from muffin tin to cooling rack to prevent sticking. Once cooled, glaze with icing. Store any leftover buns in an airtight container for up to three days.
Saffron & Cardamom Cinnamon Bun Glaze
Makes 10 oz (glazes 12 buns)
4 oz (114g) cream cheese, room temperature soft
5 oz (142g) powdered sugar, sifted
1 oz (28ml) whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredient in the bowl a whisk together until thoroughly combined. Spoon glaze over each bun and enjoy.