House of the Rising Bun

The Kitchen

GUEST: Realtor

R: [inspecting the inside of AB's pantry] Homebuyers love big kitchens. Good workspace. Lots of light. Plenty of storage. Is, is that a camera?
AB: Oh, oh. Hey, um, have a look around. Do you like the decorating? I did it myself.
R: Huh, never would have guessed. Well, not to worry. A little aromatherapy should cut through the clutter.
AB: Aromatherapy? Are you saying my house smells?
R: No. But it should. It should smell friendly, inviting, and homey. Like fresh baked cookies. Fortunately, I have "Cookie in a Can" [hands AB a spray can].
AB: "Cookie in a Can". Heh heh. That's, that's pretty clever. But you know, I really do think we can do better than that. Just tell me, what scent says, "Buy me!"
R: Well it depends.
AB: You know, it's actually really interesting that you bring this up, because in human beings aroma recall is more accurate than visual memory.
R: Excuse me.
AB: Well, think about it. I mean, scent has always been crucial to our survival. Our ancestors, you know, smelled their food to make sure it was safe. We smelled for predators, smelled for shelter, and heck, they even used their noses to find mates.
R: [turns and looks at AB]
AB: Okay, you just want cookies. Fine. Cookies are going to miss the boat, because, you know, men ... men are attracted to the smell of yeast, because it reminds them of beer. So I think we're going to do, you know, slow risen, kind of bread thing. Maybe a little sweet, a little bit spicy. Spicy ... [eyeing the spice rack] ... oh, oh, oh, I've got it. Cinnamon. No one can resist its redolence. No one, I tell you. Especially when it's baked into cinnamon buns.
R: Whatever. Just make sure something's in the oven by 10:00 AM.
AB: Yeah, yeah, okay. I'll do that. Cinnamon buns. Not only do they smell good, they're ...

["Good Eats" theme plays]

The Kitchen

GUESTS: Yeast Sock Puppets

    Before we can produce a pan of these luscious lovelies and the heavenly aroma that accompanies them, we need to delve into dough design. Now here, of course, we have cinnamon rolls. Here we have a French baguette. What, pray tell, do they have in common?

YEAST SOCK PUPPETS: [enters from all over]

    That's right, yeast. These unicellular critters do but three things. Eat, cell divide, and ...

YSPs: [belches]

    Not only does this gas give dough's lift, it provides a lot of flavor, which, in the case of a cinnamon bun, translates to a tangy counterpoint to the sugar and spice.
    Although these breads do have certain things in common such as yeast and water and salt, this one [the baguette] is very very lean, while this one [the cinnamon buns] contains both sugar and butter. Believe it or not, sugar and butter change everything.

AB: [to the YSPs]  All right, everybody ready to dough?

    Although you don't necessarily have to have a stand mixer in order to bring this dough together, it certainly will make things a whole lot easier. Besides, I'd be lonely without mine.

    We begin with four chicken egg yolks only, at room temperature. We also have a fifth egg, complete with the white. So, four yolks and one whole egg. Next up, two ounces of regular old sugar. Three ounces of melted butter—it doesn't have to be piping hot, just in a liquidous form—and six ounces of buttermilk. And we're just going to bring that together very quickly using the whisk attachment. Just kind of get an emulsion started. Every bread batter is kind of like a salad dressing, if you can think about it that way. There we go.

4 Egg Yolk, Room
1 Whole Egg, Room
2 Ounces Sugar
3 Ounces Unsalted Butter,
6 Ounces Buttermilk, Room
    And next, the dry goods. This recipe calls for a total of 20 ounces, by weight, of all-purpose flour. But we're just going to start with two cups because we don't want to make the dough too tight in the beginning. So, one ... two. You don't have to measure precisely. There we go. And the yeast. This is one envelope's worth of instant-rise yeast. That's two and a quarter teaspoons. I like instant-rise, as opposed to rapid-rise, because I think rapid rise yeast just eat up the sugar a little too quickly for a recipe like this. 20 Ounces All-Purpose Flour
    Last but not least, one and a quarter teaspoons of kosher salt. And yes, I'm putting the salt right on top of the yeast. But they're asleep and nice and safe, so it doesn't matter. 1 ¼ tsp. Kosher Salt

    Start this on low, or else, you know, flour will fly all over the place. We just want to bring it together into a batter-like form. It will look like cake batter. There. Most of the flour is worked in at this point, so I'm going to turn down the motor, and slowly pull out the whisk, just to get all the batter off. Don't do this too quickly, or you'll make a mess.
    Now we've got to change over to the hook in order to work in the rest of the flour, and of course, to do the kneading that will be necessary. So, hook time. Pirate time. Arrgggh. There we go. And at this point, we can go ahead and add all but three quarters of a cup of the flour. We're going to save about three quarters of a cup just in case it's needed. Maybe it will be, maybe it won't. Depends on the day, depends on the moisture level of the flour, depends on a lot of things. There we go. Once again, start it on low speed. It's going to take a little longer for the hook to pull in all the flour, but that's okay.
    Okay, it's been a couple of minutes, and you can tell that the dough is a little bit too moist. Yes, it's nice and soft, but you can see how it's sticking to the bottom of the bowl. That's not a good thing, so we're going to want to add a little bit of flour, and I'm also going to want to pull the dough off of the hook. And to keep it from sticking to my hands, I'll use a little no-stick spray. We'll pull that off. There we go. It will definitely climb the hook if we're not careful. And I'm just going to add about, eh, maybe a third of this remaining dose of flour. There we go. Again, starting on slow.
    Five minutes are up, and our dough looks perfect. Springy, soft, pleasant to the touch. Next step is a little bit of hand kneading and then we will put this baby down to rest. Oh, and take the rest of the flour with you. Move your dough to a smooth work surface that has been lightly floured and knead it by hand for 30 seconds or so until it's nice and smooth. Shape it into a ball and then go get yourself a nice big bowl. I like glass. Lube it up with a little no-stick spray, toss the ball to coat, cover the whole thing with plastic wrap, and then just let it sit until it is doubled in volume. Two to two and one-half hours.

American cinnamon rolls evolved from German
pastries called schnecken or "snails".

The Kitchen

AB: [motivational speech to the YSPs] Now I know that under ordinary circumstances, you little critters thrive in sugar. But it's usually only 5% of the flour, baker's percentages, of course. And in this case, we're talking about 10%. I know. I know. That concentration, the hygroscopic nature of sugar will make it difficult for you to get the water that you need to reproduce. I'm not going to lie to you. It's going to be a long, hard rise. But, I've got to sell this house. And besides, you're unicellular critters. You're not going to live that long anyway, so GO RAISE THAT DOUGH. GO GET 'EM. GO GET 'EM.
YSPs: [leave]

AP Flour 100%
Sugar 10%
Buttermilk 30%
Melted/Unsalted Butter 15%
Egg Yolks 13.4%
Whole Eggs 8.3%
Instant Yeast 1.25%
Salt  .625%
Total  178.575%

    What magnificent valor. Well that's going to take them at least two and a half hours. Plenty of time for us to make a filling, a cinnamon filling. Or is it?

Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Atlanta, GA - 3:00 pm

GUEST: Cinna Man

    Ladies and gentlemen, the powder that is comfortably resting in the cinnamon canister in your kitchen, isn't ... cinnamon, that is. It's cassia. In fact, most of the cinnamon sold in the United States is actually taken from the plant called Cinnamomum cassia. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of varieties of that plant.

    Now, true cinnamon only comes from one place, really, and that is Cinnamomum zeylanicum. This is the true Ceylon cinnamon tree. It's usually harvested when it's about this size, and of course, it's only the bark that is taken. When ground, the powder is actually rather light tan. It's not that deep red color that we're familiar with. And the flavor and the aroma are distinctly sweet and floral.


    But to tell you the truth, when it comes to baking, I'd rather have cassia. I'd rather have that big, red hot punch in the face and that strong aroma. It's perfect for cinnamon rolls. Of course, there's good cassia, great cassia, and not-so-good cassia. And luckily, I've got a source for the really good stuff.

CINNA MAN: Hello, cook guy.
AB: Hello, Cinna Man.
CM: I hear you have the yen again, for cinnamon.
AB: Actually, the flavor of which you speak, for me, is far too meek. I need cassia.
CM: The hard stuff. Well ain't you tough. Lookee here! You need China Tung Hing cassia powder. Well I got it, oh yes. Smell that. You need Saigon cassia powder. Get a whiff of that. Oh yeah, heh heh heh heh. You need chips?
AB: Yeah, chips.
CM: Oh, well. I'll throw in the grinder for free.
AB: Wow!
CM: Heh heh heh.
AB: [points] What's that?
CM: Oh, this, my friend, is three feet of pure, unadulterated Korintje Indonesian cassia bark. I have cassia leaves. I even have sticks of all shapes and sizes.
AB: Is that what I think it is?
CM: Oh yes, my friend. The real deal. This is the true, honest-to-goodness Ceylon cinnamon, from the thickest part of the trunk.
AB: Ceylon, Ceylon, say ... [reaches for it]
CM: Hey, don't touch that. Do you know how hard it is to get these?
AB: What? I've heard the myths and legends ...
CM: [sarcastically] Aww, the myths and legends. Well let me set you straight.


CM: Once upon a time, cinnamon grew in valleys infested with venomous serpents and could only be harvested by those with stout hearts and even sturdier souls. Before they split, the pickers left a spicy offering for the sun, who consumed it in a single fiery gulp.
CM: Others say ancient Arabian raptors used cinnamon to build their cliff-top cribs, while the spice men tempted the feathery fiends with hunks of meat, which shattered the shoddy, yet aromatic nest. The traders had only to pick up their prize and run like all get out!

The Kitchen

GUEST: Thing

    Wherever cinnamon, or cassia, or whatever you want to call it came from, I'm darn glad to have one tablespoon of it, which I will add to eight ounces of light brown sugar along with just a wee pinch of kosher salt. That will do. Just stir that up with a fork. There.

1 Tbs. Cinnamon
8 Ounces Light Brown Sugar
Pinch of Kosher Salt

    Now before we can get to rolling our dough, we have a little bit more prep to do. For instance, we must butter a 9" by 13" baking dish, thusly.

THING: [enters and begins wiping a butter stick all over the dish]
AB: Thank you, Thing.

    You want good coverage or the dough will stick and you will be very, very sorry for that. [observes that Thing did not do a very good job of complete coverage of the dish and fixes this] Obviously, I need to send Thing to baking school. There we go.
    Now we will turn ourselves to the dough which definitely has doubled in size. This is perfect. Time to go to work. The first thing we'll do is kind of punch it down to get the excess air out. There we go. Turn it out and hit it with just a little bit of flour to make it a little easier to work with. There we go.
    Now the goal is to get this into a rectangular shape, approximately 18 inches by 12 inches. I'm going to start with my knuckles just to make sure that I get as many of the air bubbles out as possible. Then I'm going to grab my favorite rolling pin. This is a French rolling pin which is really nothing more than a big fancy dowel, and we'll roll and work out the edges a little bit. By the way, if you don't have a rolling pin like this, do not despair. Just buy yourself a piece of PVC pipe from the hardware store. The closer you get to 18" by 12", the better.

    Now brush on three quarters of an ounce of melted butter, being sure to leave at least a-half-inch to an inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle on your filling, evenly, and then press it lightly, down into the dough.

¾ Ounce Unsalted Butter,

    Now we come to the rolling portion, and it is important that you work with your fingertips because they are cooler than your palms which will make a mess very quickly. Okay. Here we go.
    Start rolling in the center, kind of folding over the dough, working your hands out towards the edges. Then, use your thumb to fold as your hands come back together, then out, and in. It's kind of like playing an accordion. When you get all the way up to the top, fold over the flap, and crimp it with kind of a twisting motion, like that. And when you've got a good seal, roll the whole thing over so that the seam faces down. Then take yourself a serrated knife and split that roll, line up the two pieces, and split those into thirds, okay. Then, halve each one of those so that you've got a total of twelve rolls.
    Now line them up in your lubed baking dish so that you've got three rows of four rolls. It looks like there is plenty of room in this pan for these rolls at this point. But as they rise and expand, believe me, space is going to get tight. Now, wrap this up with film du plastique and stash in your chill chest overnight, or for, say, 16 hours, and you will be rewarded with an excellent flavor, and a very refined texture.

February 21st is National Sticky Bun Day.

The Kitchen

    Before we can bake off our cinnamon rolls, we must proof the dough, that is, wake up the yeast again so they can give us a final rise. Place a baking pan in the bottom of your oven, pour in enough boiling water to come about, I'll say, a quarter to a third of the way up the side. That ought to do. Slide in the rolls, and leave them for half an hour.

[half an hour later]

    Ahh, now that's what I call a good proof. So the rolls come out and the pan of water comes out, carefully. Set your oven to 350 degrees. When it reaches 350 degrees, put the rolls back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees.

350 Degrees

[30 minutes later]

    Alright, they're done. Let's turn off the oven and cool these on a wire rack for a few minutes while you make the frosting.

    By frosting, of course, we mean cream cheese frosting and it will take 2.5 ounces of cream cheese to get the job done. Drop that in the work bowl of your mixer, outfitted with your whisk, and beat it until it is creamy: medium speed, for, you know, about 30 seconds, . Then work in three tablespoons of whole milk. When that comes together, add 5.5 ounces, by weight, of powdered sugar. It needs to be sifted and I like to kind of make a little chute out of foil for my sifter so that things don't get too messy. It's messy stuff, you know. 2 ½ Ounces Cream Cheese,
3 Tbs. Whole Milk
5 ½ Ounces Powdered Sugar,

    As soon as the rolls are cool enough to handle, grab yourself a spatula or spoon, and go to town. Of course, you're probably going to be distracted by the aroma, which is amazing. Which makes me think ...
    [laying on top of a huge tongue] Riddle me this, food fans: if the human tongue can only detect, basically, five flavors, how is it that you can taste so many different kinds of food? The answer is simple. Not all the tasting gets done here. [points overhead to a huge nose] A lot of it gets done up there. That's right, the human schnozz which can detect some 10,000 different types of aromas. How does it work? I'm going in!

The Nose

    [stands up into the nose] Wow, welcome to your nasal passage. Now let's say for a moment that this is a cinnamon molecule: airborne, of course. And you breathe in and it's drawn in until it reaches something called the olfactory epithelium which is this big bundle of nerves which are unique, because it's the only part of the brain which is actually exposed to the air. Now when this little guy hooks up with one of these little nerve endings, it creates an electrical charge that your brain interprets as an aroma.
    Now what's important—to an eater at least—is that that is not the only way that these guys can get in. They can come up, huge blocks of them, from the back of the throat when you chew, okay? And when they meet up with these nerves, the brain marries that information to the information from your tongue, and bingo, you've got what we call flavor. And of course, that explains, why, when you have a stuffed up ... a stuffed up nose, or a cold, ... [dips his hand into some mucous slime] ... that it is kind of hard to taste your food. Excuse me.

The Kitchen

    I've heard rumors that there are a couple of you out there that don't like cinnamon buns. I'm sorry for that, but, there's still hope.

 Just make yourself up another batch of dough and roll it into a 12" by 24" rectangle. You're going to want to bathe that down like you did before with one ounce of butter. But this time, up on the top rim, you're going to want to brush that with one beaten egg, okay? 1 Ounce Unsalted Butter,
1 Egg Beaten
    Then take eight ounces of sugar and add into that the zest of two lemons, two tablespoons of minced ginger, two tablespoons of candied ginger, finely chopped, and five ounces of all-purpose flour. That's about a cup. Mix that together and then sprinkle it on just as you would have for those cinnamon rolls that you don't like. 8 Ounces Sugar
Zest Of 2 Medium Lemons
2 Tbs. Minced, Fresh Ginger
2 Tbs. Candied Ginger,
    Finely Chopped
5 Ounces All-Purpose Flour

    Pound down the flour mixture just a bit, and then roll up just as before. Take your time. This time, once you've got the ring sealed up, instead of cutting it in pieces, you'll want to stick one end up into the other. It's kind of like that snake that ate its own tail. Move that to a sheet pan, cover it with plastic wrap, loosely, so there's room for it to rise, and stash it overnight in the refrigerator.

    When you're ready to cook, snip it nine or ten times, very shallow cuts across the top, and stick it in the oven, again, with a pan of hot water underneath. Leave it in there to proof for half an hour, okay? And then remove the rolled device, remove the pan of water, set the oven for 350 degrees, and when the oven is good and ready to go, you can slide the roll back in and allow it to cook for half an hour or until the internal temperature hits 190 degrees.

350 Degrees

    In the meantime, make yourself a glaze. Take four ounces of your favorite jam—I like apricot—mix that with an ounce of finely chopped candied ginger and an ounce of water, about two tablespoons. Just cook that over medium heat until it is melted and slightly thickened. 4 Ounces Apricot Jam
1 Ounce Candied Ginger,
    Finely Chopped +
1 Ounce Water

    Then you may retrieve your golden brown and delicious ring of love. And after a couple of minutes of cooling, glaze your heart out. There. That's good. So, we've got two baked goods. That's enough, right? You think we need a third? You're right, we need a third.

    The first thing we've got to do is make a new topping. Eight ounces of unsalted butter go into a small saucepan with eight ounces of light brown sugar, a half teaspoon of ground rosemary, and three ounces of raisins, about 3/4 of a cup. Put medium heat to that and whisk until the sugar is thoroughly melted. 8 Ounces Unsalted Butter
8 Ounces Light Brown Sugar
½ tsp. Ground Rosemary
3 Ounces Raisins

The bundt pan was named after "bund"
which is German for a gathering of people.

The Kitchen

    Once you have your butter-brown sugar-rosemary mixture in hand, deposit half of it in the bottom of two bundt pans: not two pans, but bundt pans. Then we're going to assemble a coating from 2.5 ounces of unsalted, melted butter—it's about five tablespoons—and a teaspoon of ground rosemary. Have that standing by. 2½ Ounces Unsalted Butter,
    Melted +
1 tsp. Ground Rosemary

    Then we've got another batch of our dough, which has thoroughly risen. Punch that down and then kind of roll it out until it's kind of like a big fat snake or something that would allow you to easily chop it up into one ounce portions, which we are looking for. Make that into as smooth a little ball as you can, pinch one end, and just kind of dunk that into the butter-rosemary mixture—you don't have to get it completely covered—and then deposit that in the bottom of the bundt pan. We're looking to have 18 of these little jewels in each pan. Okay. Then cover them up with plastic and stash them in the chill chest overnight.

    The next day, they're going in the sauna, just like everything else, over the hot water, for 20 to 30 minutes, until they are nice and poufed up. Get them out of the oven and don't forget to get the water out of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and then return the two pans.

350 Degrees

    About 15 minutes into cooking, add the remaining raisin/sugar syrup to the top and cook until they reach 190 degrees in the interior. It'll be about 25 to 30 minutes. Cool, and turn out. Ahh, just smell that rosemary. I ... Oh, I'm sorry. You can't. That was mean.

The Kitchen: Later with Potential Buyers

GUESTS: A Man and a Woman, prospective home buyers

R: And here we have our spacious kitchen. Um, sorry about the clutter.
WOMAN: Oh no, it's just homey. it's lived in. it's wonderful. Don, what do you think?
DON: [is distracted by the smell of AB's baked goods]
W: Don? What do you think?
D: I'll tell you what I think. [grabs the woman and they fall to the floor in an obvious passionate embrace]
R: What did you bake? I said inviting, not invigorating.
AB: I just did what you told me.
R: I'm going to take these home with me so they don't cause any more trouble.
AB: There's not even ... [sighs]

    Well, I hope that we've inspired you to take ...

W: [from the floor, she reaches up to take one of the dishes]
AB: [hands it to her]

    See you next time on Good Eats.

Outtake #1 - The Kitchen

    [AB unmolds a bundt pan and only raisins fall out] Yum.

Outtake #2 - The Kitchen

    [AB unmolds a bundt pan and, again, only raisins fall out, picks up the plate] Umm. Delicious raisins again.

Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger

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Last Edited on 08/27/2010