Sugar Buns

I think breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. It's not really because of the food - it's more because of the routine and comfort that comes from breakfast.

To me, a good breakfast isn't complicated. It's hot coffee, some bacon, and some carbs. No fuss. I think when I was in high school, I used to skip breakfast. The idea of that seems like blasphemy at this point - especially to my coworkers who have seen me each breakfast twice in one day. "Jen, is that your first breakfast or the second?" "Jen, free bagels over there.... you know for second breakfast?" Seriously. 

When I used to travel a lot for work, I fell in love with the Starbucks "Morning Bun". It had an amazing balance of sweet sugar, flaky dough, just enough mess on your desk... but it's gone. Starbucks recently renovated their product line and the "morning bun" is now bigger, flakier, stickier, and messier. I miss the old bun. 
On Saturday night, I was all cozy on my couch after the BC football game and had a vision of an amazing morning. It included some crispy bacon, hot coffee, and a sugar bun. After some light googling, I thought I had found a good easy option. Given my well-stocked pantry, I only needed one ingredient ... sour cream. Good story? I ran into a boy that I had dated for a bit while I was out getting sour cream. He was clearly on a date and I was quite clearly not.

This recipe isn't challenging by any means - but it isn't something you can just "whip up" on a cozy winter morning. This sucker needs to rise twice for a total of 5 hours. But, man these suckers are seriously good fresh out of the oven ... or the next morning. They have that great cinnamon breakfast dough flavor but not in a crazy sweet way that makes your teeth hurt. 

A few notes?
(1) VINEGAR. I have 5 types of vinegar in my apartment (apple cider, apple cider with the mother, red wine, and champagne, balsamic) and none of them were what Martha Stewart wanted us to use here. I opted to use champagne vinegar here instead of buy another variety - and it worked out just fine. I believe every kitchen should have champagne vinegar. It's amazing.(2) FLOUR. Martha's original recipe called for a mix of bread flour and regular flour - which actually resulted in me using less flour than the recipe called for. Sometimes I don't pay attention because I'm busy singing and talking to Eleanor while we cook ... either way, it all worked out. I've documented what I estimate I actually used for flour.
(3) RECIPE ORDER. Some people commented on this recipe and found the order of ingredients for the dough weird. They used chemistry words - but something about adding the yeast last was different. Don't worry about it. Just make it like I wrote it.

So here's how it goes.
(Step 1) In a small bowl, mix together yeast and warm water; set aside.

(Step 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. Also, those eggs in the corner? Fresh from my parents backyard.

(Step 3) Add vinegar and vanilla. Mix to combine. Then, add in the sour cream. Then mix again. Then add the yeast mixture. Mix again.

(Step 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. (Note: I added only 2 cups of flour here - which is why it looks less dough ball like. The rest of the flour I added during the kneading process)
(Step 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. I went out for a couple of drinks while it rose... and then tossed it in the fridge overnight.
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. 

(Step 6) Grease one 12-cup muffin tin and set aside. In medium bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon, and salt, and mix until well blended. Set aside.

(Step 7) Turn yeast dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 18-by-10-inch rectangle. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons unsalted butter and liberally sprinkle with one-third of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

(Step 8) 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 and lightly cover with plastic wrap.
If time permits, you can let the little buns rest or rise for another hour after you've got them in the muffin tin. I had the time so I did it - but honestly they didn't rise a smidge. Maybe it was because of the refrigeration or something else - but clearly it all worked out just fine. 

(Step 9) Bake at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.

(Step 10) 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 remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. 
(Step 11) Enjoy warm while you savor the morning or afternoon or whenever you are done making these gems.

Shopping List
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 sour cream
2 2/3 cups flour, plus more for work surface

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


  1. Hello!! I just made these and am wondering if they are suppose to be flakey on the outside and sort of like a cinnamon roll on the inside. Thanks!!!

    1. Hi Jennifer! Glad you enjoyed making them today :) They aren't intended to be flaky like a croissant or anything like that. More of a cinnamon roll but perhaps a bit lighter and less twangy sweet? I describe things in weird ways but maybe that makes sense to you :)

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    3. Hello! I made these again for friends and the texture is flaky like it just breaks off as you try it pull it. But then the inside is soft and chewy like a cinnamon roll. Normal? Or you think I did something wrong? ;)

    4. Hello! I made these again for friends and the texture is flaky like it just breaks off as you try it pull it. But then the inside is soft and chewy like a cinnamon roll. Normal? Or you think I did something wrong? ;)

  2. There really isn't a whole lot of info on these gems on the www. Thanks!!!


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