Tartine Bakery's Morning Buns

I put together a Cooking Wishlist a few months ago that included Tartine's legendary morning buns. There happened to be some croissant dough in my freezer last weekend so I decided to give the recipe a try. The morning buns were a success, but dang, I forgot how dangerously delicious they are. And by dangerous, I'm referring to the flaky bits that launch in all directions with each and every buttery bite. You've been warned.

Morning buns are basically kouign-amanns on steroids. The sugar mixture, spiked with orange zest and cinnamon, caramelizes to a perfect gloss on the bottom of the muffin tin while the laminated dough becomes crackly on the outside and tender as a pillow on the inside. Elisabeth Pruiett was kind enough to share her morning bun recipe with the Interwebs so I'm posting it here with my own instructions. I used the croissant dough from her cookbook, Tartine, and highly recommend it. Her Pumpkin Tea Cake from the same book is also excellent.

Recipe Tips

Dough Dimensions

The original recipe suggests that the dough be rolled into a rectangle measuring 18x6 inches. That's the formula I followed for the morning buns seen in the photos. The next time around, I plan to roll the dough rectangle to about 17x7. My last bun may be smaller (or nonexistent) but that's ok. I'd like more width so that I can get a little further around with my cylinder. This is explained more under "Instructions".

Proofing Time

The original recipe suggests a proofing time of 45 minutes. Since Tartine's croissant recipe calls for 2-3 hours at approximately 75 degrees, I decided to treat the morning buns the same way. I proofed for about 2 hours or until the buns were 1 1/2 times their original size. You don't want to proof the dough in a room much warmer than 75 degrees or the butter layers will start to melt. A cooler room just means the dough will proof more slowly.

Tools

Ingredients

The Tartine croissant recipe yields 2 lbs of dough which is enough for roughly a dozen morning buns. If you want to bake both morning buns and croissants, use 1 lb for the croissants and 1 lb for the morning buns. I've included that ingredient breakdown below.

Citrus at Polito Family Farms - Santa Monica Farmers Market

12 Morning Buns (approximately)

  • 2 lbs croissant dough Note: As mentioned above, I use the croissant dough recipe from Tartine. Some additional recipes are here and here.
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz/100 g) brown sugar
  • 
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz/100 g) white sugar

  • Finely grated zest of 2 medium oranges
 (about 2 tsp)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp flake-style salt
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • Extra melted butter for the pan
  • Extra white sugar for coating muffin tins and dusting finished buns



6 Morning Buns (approximately)

  • 1 lb croissant dough Note: As mentioned above, I use the croissant dough recipe from Tartine. Some additional recipes are here and here.
  • 
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz/50 g) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz/50 g) white sugar
  • Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp flake-style salt
  • 2 oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • Extra melted butter for the pan
  • Extra white sugar for coating muffin tins and dusting finished buns



Instructions

  • Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, orange zest, cinnamon, and salt. Using a fork, mix everything together to ensure that zest is distributed evenly and to help release some of the oils. Set aside.
  • Brush the tins generously with the extra melted butter, sprinkle the sides and bottom of each with about a teaspoon of white sugar, then turn the pan over and tap to remove any excess. Note: I put a piece of foil on the counter and flip the pan above it. The extra sugar can then be "funneled" into a bowl and saved for dusting/rolling the morning buns.
  • Roll the chilled dough (leave it in the refrigerator until you have the above steps completed) into a rectangle measuring 17x7 inches, about 1/4 thick. Note: As mentioned under "Recipe Tips", the original instructions call for 18x6. I prefer some additional width so that I have more to work with when wrapping my dough into a cylinder. Chef's discretion. Either way you will end up with a delicious product. If you're only using 1 lb of croissant dough, roll to 9x6 (per the original recipe's instructions) or 8x7 (my revised dimensions).
  • Brush the rectangle generously with the 2 oz of melted butter. Note: I didn't end up using it all.
  • Sprinkle sugar evenly over the dough so that it's 1/8-inch thick. Note: I ended up with about a 1/4 cup of leftover sugar mixture and then a little fell out as I rolled. Would be a great addition to an apple galette.
  • Starting on the long side, roll into a snug cylinder.
  • Cut the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Note: See "Storage" below for instructions on how to freeze and bake at a later date.
  • Put each piece into a muffin tin with the cut or swirl side up.
  • Proof for 2-2 1/2 hours at around 75 degrees. If it's cooler in the room that's fine, but if it's too warm the butter layers will start to melt. The size should increase to 1 1/2-2 times the original.
  • Move your oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375 degrees.
  • Place the muffin tin on a foil-lined baking sheet (to catch drips) and bake for 45-55 minutes or until deep golden brown.
  • Place a piece of foil on the counter and then set a wire cooling rack on top of that.
  • As soon as the buns come out of the oven, carefully remove them from the muffin pan and place on the wire rack. Let the buns cool for about 5 minutes.
  • You can gently roll the buns in a bowl of sugar, or, for a lighter coating simply dust the entire morning bun using a mesh strainer. Note: The original recipe says to roll the buns in sugar but I chose to do a dusting.
  • Let the morning buns cool slightly and then eat warm or at room temperature.

Storage

Morning buns are best eaten the day they're made. That being said, there were two of us and a pile of morning buns so our stomachs were outnumbered. Below are a few different storage methods.

Baked Buns - Counter

I left two morning buns in a Ziplock bag overnight and then refreshed them in the oven at 350 until warm. Though the flavor was excellent, the texture wasn't quite right. The moisture had its way with the flakiness.

Baked Buns - Freezer (preferred)

The other option is to freeze the morning buns shortly after they have cooled completely. To reheat, leave them on the counter to defrost, then refresh in an oven at 350 until warm. The texture is about 90% as good as day-of which is pretty good. This also happens to be my preferred way to store and reheat freshly made croissants.

Bun Dough - Freezer (not yet tested)

  • Slice cylinder into 1 1/2-inch pieces, lay cut-side up on parchment, then freeze until firm.
  • Once firm, wrap each piece individually, place them in a Ziplock bag, and store in the freezer until needed.
  • To bake buns, butter and sugar the tins and then place the frozen pieces into the cups swirl side up.
  • Let the dough defrost and proof at room temperature (preferably 75 degrees or thereabouts). This may take a few hours depending on the ambient temperature.
  • Though I haven't tried it, another option could be to place the tray with the frozen morning bun dough in the refrigerator before going to bed. The dough will then defrost and begin to proof overnight. Remove from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature until the dough is at least 1 1/2-2 times its original size. The dough was able to get a head start in the refrigerator so my educated guess is that it won't take more than about 45 minutes.

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