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what the morning will bring

Recipe: morning buns

Hey, I didn’t need to wash my car because it RAINED all day Wednesday! What does that say about me when my car is cleaner on a rainy day than a sunny day? Don’t answer that. Even better than the rain, was the snow falling at my house! It was too warm for any of it to stick, but the sentiment was there, and I’m pretty sure those clouds hugging the mountains will clear out eventually to reveal REAL SNOW on the high peaks. This is good. A month later than I prefer, but it’s still good.

As we shifted from cloudless, sunny, warm days to this cloudy, rainy, cold weather, the in-between was rather wonderful. A couple of mornings in a row granted us the right conditions for some impressive light shows, where sun and clouds and rain work together for a greater good. Of course, I was awake and alert well before the first faded rosy glow in the east appeared – because Neva stepped on my stomach at 5 am to snuggle down in the space between the two humans. From then on, it’s fitful sleep for me, so why not just get up and get to work? Thanks to Neva, I found chanterelles this summer and I have caught a lot of great sunrises.

we almost had the whole rainbow in this sunrise

but looking west, there WAS a rainbow (or two)!!

Earlier this week, Jeremy gave a lecture (A Tour of the History of the Universe) at the Chautauqua Community House in Boulder, hosted by the Colorado Chautauqua Association. It was a great talk and the sold out crowd loved it, asking several thoughtful and engaging questions afterward. I mean, who doesn’t love talking about black holes, dark matter, dark energy, the big bang, and where our universe is headed? Jeremy works hard when he has to speak in public, because he’s a bona fide introvert. I know a lot of people who claim to be introverts who aren’t actually introverts. In fact, most of the true introverts I know never say one way or the other because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves and because the extroverts never shut up (I’m an extrovert, by the way).

all eyes on jeremy

As you can imagine, after his talk Jeremy was completely exhausted. He spent the entire day on telecon, teaching class, attending his student’s oral exam, and then giving this lecture well into the night. He didn’t eat beforehand because he didn’t want to puke during the talk, so we had a very late dinner and then it was to bed so we could prepare ourselves for Neva’s early morning wake up leap. But in the morning, I did have some delightful homemade pastries on the counter for him while I rushed out the door, pajamas under my jacket, to shoot sunrise. The day is infinitely better when you start it with pastries. I am particularly fond of the aptly named morning buns.

the dough: sour cream, sugar, salt, egg yolk, orange juice, ice water, yeast, butter, flour

the filling: sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, brown sugar, vanilla

Given a choice, I will stand at a bakery counter and select a savory croissant. If there aren’t any savory pastries for the asking, then I’ll opt for a kouign amann or a morning bun. But I don’t frequent bakeries all that often and morning buns have been on my “want to make” list for years. I was reminded of that the last time we visited with Jeremy’s parents and my MIL commented that morning buns were really quite easy to make. Well, if I’m not good for a morning bun, what AM I good for? Let’s get this party started. A key to this recipe is using a ziploc bag. A large one. I tend to love recipes that employ a ziploc bag – espresso chocolate chip shortbread cookies, roast turkey gravy, and the recent bourbon-glazed beef tenderloin. In this case, you place all of the dry dough ingredients into the bag, add the butter, and alternate between rolling the (sealed) bag over with a rolling pin and shaking it around to coat the butter. Keep doing this until you get nice big flat flakes of butter. That means good things as far as pastries are concerned.

place the dry dough ingredients in the ziploc bag

slice the butter (that’s a bowl of beautiful if i ever saw one)

add the butter to the ziploc bag

seal and roll and shake and roll and shake and…

buttery flakes

add the remaining dough ingredients

The resulting dough is pretty sticky and wet to work with. I may have over-kneaded it a tad because of the stickiness, so just bear in mind that this is a wet dough and it’s okay that way. Otherwise you sacrifice some of the flakiness in the final pastry. Work it into a cohesive ball and then roll it out, roll it up, and smoosh it a little. Pop the dough in the freezer for about 15 minutes while you mix the filling.

knead the dough into a cohesive ball

roll it to 20×12 inches

roll it up into a tight cylinder

pat it down to 12×4 inches

freeze for 15 minutes

Toss the filling ingredients together with a fork and then butter your muffin tins. You can bake these buns in muffin liners, but I wanted to go for maximum mess, so I baked them directly in my muffin tins. If you do go the route of muffin liners, you should still butter the tins. When the dough is ready, roll it out again to that target 20×12 inches as best you can.

place the filling ingredients in a medium bowl

mix together with a fork

sprinkle the filling over the dough

leave a 1/2-inch clean margin

roll the dough up and pinch to seal along the edge

Slice the dough into twelve equal pieces and set them cut-side-up in the muffin tins. At this point, you can give yourself four hours while the dough chills in the refrigerator or call it a day and revisit the dough the next day – up to 24 hours later. It’s either a long day or a two-day affair. Proof the buns in a warm oven and then bake until deep golden in color. One thing that irks me to no end is underdone pastries. We encounter this in restaurants all the time. That dark golden hue is flavor, people! It doesn’t have to be burnt, but color is good.


place in muffin tins and chill

proof the buns in a warm oven until doubled in size

bake to a golden brown

Like I said, I am pretty certain I overworked the dough when kneading it, because the pastry – while flaky – was not as flaky as I like. So don’t be too heavy handed with the dough at the expense of developing those nice layers of pastry. The orange flavor and gooey caramelized bits are sunshine in your mouth. I do recommend removing the buns from the pans after letting them cool for 5 minutes (so you don’t burn yourself with molten sugar). If you wait to let the sugar cool completely, they will be cemented to the tins by the caramel and then you’ll just be eating these straight from the muffin tin because WHO WASTES GOOD PASTRIES?! I’m shouting, but only because I love these buns so much. These are perfect for make-ahead breakfasts that will wow and impress even your harshest critics. How much complaining can they do if you shove a morning bun in their mouth?

swirly buttery cinnamon bundles of deliciousness

oh flaky pastry, how you tempt me

Morning Buns
[print recipe]
from Brown Eyed Baker

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsps instant (rapid rise) yeast
3/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices, chilled
1 cup sour cream, cold
1/4 cup orange juice, cold
3 tbsps ice water
1 egg yolk
extra butter, softened (for the muffin tins)

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp orange zest, grated
2 tsps ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract

Make the dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in a gallon ziploc bag. Shake to mix. Add the butter to the bag, seal the bag, and shake to coat the butter. Press the air out of the bag and reseal it. Roll over the bag with a rolling pin, shaking the bag after each pass until the butter becomes large flakes. Empty the contents into a large bowl. Stir the sour cream, orange juice, ice water, and egg yolk into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead the dough into a smooth, cohesive ball. Roll the dough out into a 20×12-inch rectangle. Starting at the short end, begin rolling the dough into a tight cylinder (like you’d roll a carpet). Pat the cylinder into a a 12×4-inch rectangle. Place the dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with plastic. Freeze for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, generously butter 12 muffin tins.

Make the filling: Mix all of the ingredients together.

Assemble the buns: Roll the dough into a 20×12-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the filling over the dough, leaving 1/2-inch clean margins along the edges. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Starting from the long end, roll the dough up into a cylinder, pinching the final edge to the roll to seal it. Trim the ends of the roll with a sharp knife, then cut the roll into 12 pieces of equal width. Place each roll, cut-side up, in the muffin tin (you can use muffin papers if you like, but I like how the butter and sugars caramelize in the bottom of the tin). Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Bake the buns: Preheat the oven to 200°F. Remove the buns from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Turn the oven off and proof the buns in the oven for 20-30 minutes until they have doubled in size. Remove the buns from the oven and increase the temperature to 425°F. Bake the morning buns for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake until the buns turn a deep golden brown, about 40-50 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then remove the morning buns from the tins (if you let them cool in the tins, they may just stick as the caramel turns hard). Makes 12 buns.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

kouign amann pastry huckleberry lemon sweet rolls apple cider caramel apple cinnamon rolls peach pie cinnamon rolls

15 nibbles at “what the morning will bring”

  1. Heather (Delicious Not Gorgeous) says:

    these look like the perfect shade of caramelized, and what a sweet (oops, pun not originally intended but why not) way to celebrate a successful lecture!

  2. debbie says:

    Those buns look good. Perfect for breakfast and with coffee. I am an extrovert but I still do not like speaking in front of a group of people. I can only imagine how Jeremy must feel. I would have loved to attended this. The universe is absolutely and totally fascinating!!!

  3. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says:

    I LOVE morning buns!! I love that these have orange zest in them!

  4. Kristin says:

    Oh wow! The Morning Buns I grew up with did not have orange, but I would imagine that would only make an already wonderful thing even better! Can’t wait to try these!!

  5. Melissa says:

    Our cars are usually cleaner when it rains too. It definitely isn’t a priority when the dang things just get nasty again from all the time in the wild outdoors, right?

    Also, I don’t know if you saw when I was screaming about it, but Steve and I finally watched Cosmos and it was life-changing. I mean, we’ve always been interested in the universe, in science, in astronomy, etc. etc. etc. but this was different. This was the thing that solidified our atheism because it gave us a scientific foundation with which to argue our feelings. I mean, we’ve both said we are atheist for a good five years now, but this… it shaped our hunches and gut feelings into something much more concrete. It was a big deal. SO. When I saw this about Jeremy, I was like… seriously, dude, we would have LOVED to have been there. Loved to hear him talk. We’re soaking up all the science we can now. We even signed up for an online 6-week physics course about gravity and the universe, starting next week. Can’t wait.

  6. Elena says:


  7. Paige says:

    What?! No picture of Neva?

  8. Irmi says:

    Beautiful, beautiful buns. Your photographs as great as always. And such a stunning sunrise and rainbow. Wonder of nature. What a reward to get up so early. I am the type of the opposite way…

  9. Kara says:

    That sunrise!!!! My kids will love these morning buns!

  10. Lisa says:

    I always know that Jeremy will do everything right. Congratulations to a sell-out talk. Proud of you!!

  11. Jill Hyde says:

    As I’m drinking my perfect cup of coffee, I’m wishing I had a morning bun to shove in my mouth!!! They look delicious. So proud of Dr.Darling! What a captive audience. xo, j

  12. jenyu says:

    Heather – they make great surprise gifts, too :)

    debbie – well, I don’t think public speaking has anything to with being extrovert or introvert as it is more performance than interaction. I knew plenty of students who were super extroverted socialites during class, but became a bucket of jelly when they had to give a class presentation. Public speaking requires discipline and practice :)

    Katrina – yeah, I have always had them without orange, but this one is really nice.

    Kristin – same here!

    Melissa – I grew up with lots of people who treat cars like status symbols, and that is SO not what my life is like (or yours!). I want a car that works well and is safe and reliable. Period. Clean is optional ;) And yeah, Cosmos is awesome. I grew up watching Carl Sagan’s original Cosmos series on PBS with my dad and it’s what essentially sent me into science. The good news is that Jeremy may give this talk in Crested Butte and I’ll try to get my act together and record it. If so, I’ll post so you and Steve can watch it :) xoxo

    Elena – thank you!

    Paige – you’ll have to go to Instagram if you want reliable and regular Neva fixes ;)

    Irmi – I used to be a night owl, but thanks to little puppy, we are waking up hours before sunrise… *yawn*

    Kara – I hope so!

    Lisa – thanks, Mom xo

    Jill – :)

  13. Dee says:

    Your pictures are always so amazing!! And I’m also an introvert, and whenever I have to present for class, I usually have to prepare harder than the next person and convince myself its going to be ok!

  14. Melissa says:

    Yesterday, out of the blue, I remembered that I never came back to see if you replied to my comment on this. I don’t always check but I thought you might have replied to this one. ;) Did he ever give his talk again? Let me know on FB msg or text if he did and you get it recorded. We’d love to hear it. <3

  15. Aimee says:

    I rarely post comments on recipes I try. But wow! The most flaky dough, just right amount of sweetness. Perfect for a morning pastry. Thank you for sharing this recipe. It will be my go to recipe for now on!

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