red velvet morning buns

I've had a range of "Valentine's Day" experiences in my life. There was the elementary school obligatory valentine's cards for everyone. The classic college boyfriend (who lasted for two weeks) who gave me roses. The time I was dating someone new I cared about... who didn't want to celebrate because a combination of "work" and "interest". And oddly enough in 2015, I went on a first date ... on Valentine's Day because honestly hadn't realized the day when I suggested it. But my favorite Valentines have been with my friends and family - and perhaps my sister. 

Valentine's Day to me is celebrating with friends. It's not a romantic holiday - it's a friends and family holiday. While I don't think I ever/need want to receive roses on this day, I do love seeing all the guys on the train carrying them home. It's like a little bit of vulnerability on display.

Whether it be Downton Abbey or the finale of Survivor, I've always loved cooking for an occasion. I like to take inspiration from the event and see what that turns into. Valentine's Day has been a little different. It's been mainly cookies and sweets (chocolate covered pretzels). I guess I never wrote up the recipe for beet gnocchi but that was a good one. Bummer. However on the commute home, this idea came to me. Red velvet morning buns.

Largely this is the same recipe as my previous round of Morning Buns in 2013 - but with a few modifications for ingredients. I swapped buttermilk for sour cream because I was not going to the store and then added in the flavoring for red velvet. I like to think they look like red roses <3 which I obviously announced as I delivered them like cupid to my family pre-sunrise hours yesterday.

While these babes are phenomenal right out of the oven, they are also good say... on the commuter rail with your sister in the morning... or for dinner again that night watching New Girl ... or maybe even for breakfast the next day. They stay fresh for quite awhile and will probably last you just about the same amount of time real roses would.
  1. In a small bowl, mix together yeast and warm water; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar. Add egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. The batter will become this gorgeous shade of yellow. 
  3. Add vinegar and vanilla. Mix to combine. Then, add in the buttermilk. Then mix again. Then add the yeast mixture. Mix again. Then add in the cocoa powder and red food coloring.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together both flours and salt. Add to mixer and mix on low until well combined and dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and just begins to form a ball. If you aren't satisfied with the color of your dough, feel free to add more red coloring around this point. I might not have added the full amount the recipe called for - just use your judgement a bit.
  5. On a lightly floured board, knead dough until smooth, about 5 minutes. Lightly flour the bottom of a large glass bowl; place dough in bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Then try to exercise patience and wait 3-4 hours. 
  6. At this point, you could refrigerate your dough and finish the next morning. Just cover the bowl with saran wrap first. If you choose to refrigerate your dough, let it sit on the counter for about an hour to come closer to room temperature before you try to roll it out. Cool dough is easier to work with for sure, but fresh from the fridge dough is not. 
  7. Grease one 12-cup muffin tin and set aside. In medium bowl, combine melted butter, sugar, cinnamon, and mix until well blended. Set aside.
  8. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 18-by-10-inch rectangle. Spread the butter mixture liberally over the entire dough.
  9. Beginning with the long side facing you, tightly roll dough away from you into a log; pinch edge of dough to seal. Cut dough crosswise into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Place each cross-sectional piece into prepared muffin cup.
  10. Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.
  11. Remove from oven and pull the buns from the pan to cool a bit. In the meantime, melt the remaining 2-3 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove buns from muffin tins. Brush liberally with melted butter and gently roll in a bowl of cinnamon-sugar mixture. 
Shopping List
Dough
2 packages active dry yeast (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup buttermilk
2 2/3 cups flour, plus more for work surface
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tablespoon red food coloring

Bun & The Rest
1/2 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 t cinnamon

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