The photo of this special breakfast is on the cover of the April issue of Bon Appétit. I made it almost immediately after seeing the magazine! I really liked the idea of using dates in the filling to add a little bit of natural sweetness and fiber- and to reduce the amount of sugar. Yum.
This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Molly Baz, Sohla El-Waylly, and Sarah Jampel. It was included in an article titled, “Butter, Sugar, Flour, Magic: A Basically Guide to Better Baking.” There are a lot of other delicious treats included in the article. 🙂 I made the dough and the date filling the day before assembling and baking.
It would be a lovely breakfast to serve on Easter morning.
Yield: 9 sticky buns
For the Dough:
- 3/4 cup buttermilk or whole-milk plain yogurt
- 7 T vegetable oil, divided
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4-oz (2 1/4 tsp) envelope active dry yeast
- 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Filling and Assembly:
- 1 cup (180 g) packed Medjool dates, halved, pitted
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 3 T vegetable oil, divided
- 1/4 cup (50 g) packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (83 g) Confectioners’ sugar
- 3 T buttermilk or plain whole-milk yogurt
- 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
To Make the Dough:
- Combine the buttermilk and 6 tablespoons of oil in a small microwave-safe bowl. (It won’t get smooth.) Heat in the microwave in three 10-second intervals until just about body temperature, or when it registers 98°F with an instant-read thermometer. (Alternatively, the mixture can be heated in a small saucepan on medium-low for about 1 minute.)
- Whisk egg, brown sugar, and yeast in a liquid measuring cup to combine, then whisk in the buttermilk mixture.
- Pulse the flour, baking soda, and salt in a food processor to combine.
- With the motor running, stream in the buttermilk mixture. Process until about 80% of the dough comes together in a ball, about 2 minutes. (The mixture will look very wet at first, then the sides will begin to pull away.)
- Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, scrape the dough onto an unfloured surface. (It will be wet and sticky.)
- Knead, pushing it away from you, then pulling it back toward you, until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. (You can lightly oil your hands if the dough is too sticky.) The dough will grow silkier, tighter, and easier to work with as you knead.
- Roll out the dough into a rough 8-inch square.
- Fold dough over onto itself to make and 8×4-inch rectangle, then flatten it slightly and fold over once more to make a 4-inch square.
- Roll dough back out into an 8-inch square.
- Repeat the folding process (Step 8); you will finish with a 4-inch square.
- Pour remaining 1 tablespoon of oil into a medium bowl and add dough (still folded); turn to coat.
- Cover bowl tightly and chill dough until doubled in volume, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day. (I refrigerated my dough overnight.)
To Make the Filling and Assemble:
- Place dates in a small bowl and pour in 1 1/2 cups hot water to cover. Let soak until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Drain dates and transfer to a food processor; discard soaking liquid.
- Add cinnamon, salt, and 2 tablespoons of oil.
- Purée, scraping down sides as needed, until smooth, about 4 minutes. (You should have about 1/2 cup purée.)
- Grease a 10-inch cast-iron skillet with remaining 1 tablespoon of oil.
- Transfer dough to a clean, unfloured surface and roll out to an 8-inch square.
- Fold in half into an 8×4-inch rectangle, then fold rectangle over itself to form a 4-inch square. If dough feels tough and uncooperative, let it sit for about 5 minutes to relax and try again.
- Roll out dough into a 12-inch square, about 1/4-inch thick.
- Dollop date purée all over. Using a small offset spatula, spread evenly over dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border without purée along edge farthest from you.
- Sprinkle brown sugar over purée.
- Starting at the edge closest to you, roll up dough into a tight log.
- Using a sharp serrated knife and long sawing motions, trim about 1/2-inch of dough from both ends. (These ends can be discarded, but I baked them in a separate small ramekin.)
- Slice log crosswise into 3 sections, wiping knife clean between cuts.
- Slice each section crosswise into 3 buns. (I used a ruler.) You should have 9 buns total that are each about 1-inch thick. Transfer buns to prepared pan as you go.
- Cover pan tightly with plastic wrap or foil. Place in a warm, dry spot. (I used plastic wrap so that I could monitor the rising process. I also placed the pan in a warming drawer.)
- Let buns rise until they’re doubled in volume and spring back when poked, leaving only a small indentation, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, depending on the humidity and warmth of your kitchen.
- Remove plastic wrap, if using, and cover pan with foil.
- Place a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350°F, preferably on convection.
- Bake buns, still covered, until puffed, pale, and mostly set, about 20 minutes. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces, covered with foil, at the same time.)
- Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes if you prefer a soft and squishy bun and up to 25 minutes for a more toasted bun. Let cool slightly. (I baked the small ramekin with the extra end pieces at this point for about 5 minutes- uncovered.)
- Meanwhile, whisk powdered sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla in a medium bowl to combine.
- Brush glaze over warm buns and serve in skillet.
Do Ahead: Purée can be made 3 days ahead. Place in an airtight container, cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before using.