On a Train Bound for Bagel Town

It is shaping up to be a weekend for bread.  Among other things, I need to replenish the supply of croissants for Mr. Sugar Mamma’s breakfast. And the little Sugars are begging for bread sticks and soft pretzels.  AND my special ingredients for bagels came in the mail from King Arthur Flour.  Bagels?  have I lost my damn mind?

Bagels were one of the first yeast doughs I took a shine to.  Not particularly because I loved the way they turned out, but because my mom made them, which gave me confidence. This was a point in my life when I lived exclusively on bowls of granola, pancakes, beer and rice krispie treats.  The ability to bake something – anything – was a sure way to impress people.  Most of all, I took up bagels because it was the best way to totally blow off my college classes for a whole day.  Typical morning, February 1992:

Me (to roommates): Should I go to class or should I stay home and bake bagels?

Roommate 1: Bagels.

Roommate 2: totally

Roommate 3: hell yes

Me:  Yay bagels!

So I think this weekend I will be making a return to Bagel Town.  It will be a perfect way to put off doing laundry or cleaning house.  Hell yes!

I’ve been slacking on my post regarding last weekend’s croissants.  The good news is they were the best batch, texture wise, that I have made yet. The bad news is, I screwed up at least three different steps, so I wouldn’t even know how to replicate them again.

I messed up measuring the flour when mixing the leaven and  I added too much sugar.  Then, in my attempt to proof the final rolls at 80 degrees with a broken oven thermometer, I managed to proof them too hot and the butter melted out!  Making croissants is beginning to feel like having another child.  So needy! I spend hours on the internet researching what to try next, I can’t venture far from home so I can roll dough every hour.  Gotta keep the kitchen at a toasty 80 degrees all Sunday morning – and this happens every weekend. For me it’s not an option; the family has tasted fresh croissants, and they expect them now regularly.  I would personally not ever recommend making croissants on a whim.  You can’t just do it once, you have to keep working at it and working at it.

Having said that, my Magic Morning Muffins are the best excuse any one could ever have for sacrificing an entire weekend and a pound of butter. You see, you need croissant dough to make these bad boys. And let me tell you, it is sooooo worth it!  Crisp croissant outside covered in a layer of crispy caramelized cinnamon brown sugar.  Sprinkled with more sugar, ’cause there is nothing better than wearing what is left of this awesome breakfast on the front of your shirt and in your mustache for the rest of the morning.  Inside, the dough stays soft and buttery and the currants and orange zest are a lovely little surprise for your taste buds as you are happily munching away.

If my dog some how managed to steal the last one off the counter when I was not looking I would seriously wrestle it away from him, brush it off, stare him down with a look of death and eat it in front of him. That is how much I love these things.

So if you are down, find yo’ self a recipe for Croissant dough, or find someone who loves you who will make you some, and get busy.

Magic Morning Muffins

adapted from Tartine’ heavenly morning buns

The recipe for croissant dough can be found in the Tartine cookbook.
Yields: approximately 12 buns

2 pounds croissant dough
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 clementines
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
pinch salt
4 ounces (1 stick) butter, melted
extra white sugar for coating muffin cups and for rolling finished buns

1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, orange zest, cinnamon and salt.

2. Prepare a muffin tin by  brushing bottom and sides of each cup with melted butter. Put a teaspoon of sugar in each muffin cup and swirl around to evenly coat. Tap out excess sugar.

3. Roll out croissant dough into a 1/4-inch thick, 6-inch-by-18-inch rectangle, with the long side in front of you. Brush dough with melted butter, and sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over the whole rectangle—the sugar layer should be about 1/8-inch thick. You may have some of the mixture left over.

4. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll rectangle into a cylinder. Cut cylinder into 1 1/2-inch discs. Fit each disc into the buttered and sugared muffin tins so that the swirl pattern is visible on top. You may have some extra rolled bun dough left over or just choose to bake fewer buns (if you do, cut them all and freeze individually on a pan). Once frozen, place in a resealable plastic bag and store in freezer.

To bake buns that are frozen: Prepare pan as above, let buns defrost in the prepared cups (this will depend on how warm your kitchen is, about 45 minutes), then continue with step 5.

5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let rolls rise in a warm but not hot place for approximately 45 minutes. The rising time will vary depending on how cold your dough was to start and how warm a place they are put to rise. They should rise approximately to 1 1/2 times their original size. Place the muffin tin on a cookie sheet covered with parchment or foil to catch any drips while baking.

6. Bake for about 45 minutes to an hour or longer, depending on your oven. When done, the tops should be well browned and the sugar melted. Remove pan from oven and immediately turn buns out onto a clean baking sheet or work surface.. Let the buns set for 5 to 10 minutes, then toss in a bowl with some sugar to coat. These buns are best eaten the day they are made. If eating the next day, heat them up first in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes before serving.

Variation: add 1/3 cup currants and 1/4 cup pecans to the cinnamon sugar filling

Magic Morning Muffins proofing in the pan

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