Monday, May 18, 2015

Honey Cashew Morning Buns

I like the idea of cutting back on sugar. I’ve been doing just that for a while now. I’ve been baking fewer sweet treats and looking for ways to incorporate natural sweeteners other than refined sugar. So, I was delighted to find out that Joanne Chang’s newest book is all about Baking With Less Sugar, and I received a review copy. She set out to recreate some of her favorites using much less or in some case no refined white sugar. There are no manufactured sugar substitutes here, just reductions in total sugar used or appearances of honey, maple syrup, molasses, or fruit for sweetness. And, something I love about Joanne Chang is that she always gives you the facts about how and why recipes work. There are a few pages at the front of the book with explanations about what sugar does in baked goods and how it affects browning, texture, coagulation of proteins, etc. It makes it clear that you can’t just eliminate sugar and expect to get the same results as when it’s used, and there are reminders about these facts throughout the recipes. I marked a lot of pages of things to try while reading this book. Almost every page of the Just Chocolate chapter has a flag on it, and I’m not even a serious chocoholic. These recipes highlight the sweetness already found in chocolate and have no additional sugar. Double-Chocolate Whoopie Pies, Chocolate-Fudge Bourbon Ice Cream, Mint Chocolate Ice Cream Sandwiches, and Mocha Shaved Ice with Vanilla Cream all got my attention. I already baked the Peanut Butter Honey Cookies with oats and chopped peanuts. They’re made with natural peanut butter, butter, and honey with no sugar added. The cookies were nutty and perfectly sweet enough and very tender. As warned in the recipe headnote, without the sugar these cookies are soft and cake-like rather than crispy or chewy. They might not hold up well for packing and sending, but they were great for snacking right at home. Next, I had to try the Honey Cashew Morning Buns. 

Again, this recipe had no refined sugar. The yeasted dough for the buns contained no sugar or honey, and the sweetness all came from the “honey goo” in which the buns were baked. This is a lightened-up version of the famous Flour Bakery sticky bun. The dough was made in a stand mixer with water, yeast, flour, salt, and olive oil. It was covered and left to rise for a few hours. Meanwhile, cashews were toasted and chopped for the filling. The filling was a mix of softened butter, cinnamon, and the chopped cashews. The risen dough was rolled into a square, and the filling was spread across the surface before the dough was rolled into a jelly roll. I cut the individual buns and chilled them in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, I made the honey goo which included melted butter, honey, heavy cream, water, and salt. Once cooled to room temperature, the goo was poured into a baking pan and the rolls were set into it. They were left for a second rise for about an hour or so before baking. The finished rolls need to be served warm so the sticky glaze can be scooped up with each one. 

The rolls were decadently gooey in the best way. There was plenty of sweetness from the honey and lots of great flavor from the cinnamon and nuts. I can’t wait to try all those chocolate recipes, but the Pineapple-Coconut-Banana Sorbet sweetened only by the fruits in the recipe is a top contender to try next too. Looks like we might start having dessert more often than we have been lately around here. 

Honey Cashew Morning Buns 
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Baking With Less Sugar.

Our famous sticky bun at Flour is unapologetically sweet. It’s drenched in a brown sugar-honey “goo” and chock-full of cinnamon sugar and pecans. Not only did it beat Bobby Flay in a Throwdown episode on the Food Network, he also graciously picked it as his choice for The Best Thing I Ever Ate in another TV show. It has become a signature item, and it has put us on the map. I confess that I can only eat a few bites and then I’m done. It’s incredibly rich, which is what makes it so good, but I longed for something just as decadent but in a lighter, less sugary way. These morning buns are the answer. Made with a light, yeasted, unsweetened dough, they get filled with chopped cashews (my favorite nut) and then baked in a honey goo that is rich with cream and butter, and sweet with a little honey, but not so much that they hide the flavor of the bun or cashew. I especially love the caramelized pieces on the edge of the pan. 

240 g/1 cup water, at body temperature (when you put your finger in it, it should feel neither cold nor hot) 
1/2 tsp active dry yeast or 3 g/0.1 oz fresh cake yeast 
350 g/2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus up to about 35 g/1/4 cup more, if needed 
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt 
50 g/1/4 cup olive oil or other mild vegetable oil 

115 g/1/2 cup unsalted butter 
170 g/1/2 cup honey 
120 g/1/2 cup heavy cream 
120 g/1/2 cup water 
1/4 tsp kosher salt 

240 g/2 cups raw unsalted cashews, chopped 
115 g/1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft 
2 tsp ground cinnamon 

1. To make the dough: Lightly oil a large bowl. 
2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, combine the water and yeast and let sit for 20 to 30 seconds to allow the yeast to dissolve and activate. Dump the flour and salt onto the yeast mixture, and carefully turn on the mixer on low speed. Let the dough mix for about 10 seconds. (To prevent the flour from flying out of the bowl, turn the mixer on and off several times until the flour is mixed into the liquid, and then keep it on low speed.) When the dough is still shaggy looking, drizzle in the olive oil, aiming it along the side of the work bowl to keep it from splashing and making a mess. 
3. With the mixer still on low speed, knead the dough for 4 to 5 minutes, or until it is smooth and supple. The dough should be somewhat sticky but still smooth, and have an elastic, stretchy consistency. If it is much stiffer than this, mix in 2 to 3 Tbsp water; if it is much looser than this, mix in 2 to 3 Tbsp flour. 
4. Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap or a damp lint-free cloth. Place the bowl in a draft-free, warm place (78 to 82°F [25 to 28°C] is ideal; an area near the stove or in the oven with only the pilot light on is good) for 2 to 3 hours. The dough should rise until it is about double in bulk. (This is called proofing the dough.) 
5. Meanwhile, make the honey goo: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the honey, cream, water, and salt. Remove the pan from the heat and let the goo cool for about 30 minutes before using, or until room temperature. The goo can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 
6. To make the filling: Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F [175°C]. Put the cashews on a baking sheet and toast for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Turn off the oven and set the cashews aside to cool. 
7. Punch down the dough to deflate it—literally give it a punch in the center of the puffy dough, which will allow you to roll it out more easily. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough into a 12-in [30-cm] square about 1/4 in [6 mm] thick. It will be a bit stretchy and it may spring back, but keep rolling gently until it roughly holds its shape. 
8. In a small bowl, with a wooden spoon, mix together the butter, cinnamon, and cashews. Spread this mixture evenly over the entire surface of the dough square. 
9. Using your hands and starting from the top of the square, and working your way down, roll the dough loosely like a jelly roll until the entire sheet is rolled up. Using a sharp knife, trim both edges of the dough roll about 1/4 in [6 mm] to even out the ends. Using a bench scraper or a chef’s knife, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces, each about 1 in [3 cm] thick. (At this point, the unbaked buns can be tightly wrapped in plastic wrap—either individually or stack them all and wrap as a tower—and frozen for up to 1 week. When ready to bake, remove the buns from the freezer. Leave them wrapped and thaw in the refrigerator over¬night, or at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours; proceed as directed.) 
10. Pour the goo into a 9-by-13 in [23-by-33 cm] baking pan. Place the buns in the pan, evenly spaced. If some of the buns have become oblong or oddly shaped from the cutting and moving around, feel free to arrange them once they are in the pan into round spirals. Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and let the buns proof at warm room temperature (78 to 82°F [25 to 28°C] is ideal; an area near the stove or in the oven with only the pilot light on is good) for 1 to 2 hours, or until the dough is puffy, pillowy, and soft and the buns are touching. 
11. About 15 minutes before the buns are ready to bake, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 400°F [205°C]. 
12. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the buns are pale and light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes. 
13. Using a spatula, invert the buns, one at a time, onto a serving platter. Serve warm. (These are best served warm or within 4 hours of baking. You could make them one day and serve them the next after warming them in a 300°F [150°C] oven for 6 to 8 minutes.)

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  1. Ah that looks so good Lisa! Especially since I am doing a whole30 at the moment so no sugar for me. It's great that this book uses less sugar, something I've been trying recently too. Still the whole30 is no sugar at all so I'll have to wait to make these babies!

  2. These buns look so inviting with the cashew filling! I totally love the idea of less (or no) refined sugar in baking.

  3. A lot of people are choosing to cut back on sugar. The morning buns look delicious and I love how they're sweetened with honey xx

  4. Very tempting! This is a great breakfast treat. I love cashew nuts, honey and butter.



  5. These buns look super delicious! I think while warm..with a glass of milk.. Yummy!

  6. i think cashews are woefully underutilized! this is a spectacular way to give them center stage. :)

  7. Glad to hear of a good cookbook that doesn't use manufactured stuff to substitute for sugar. Too many do, alas, and we've never been happy with the results. This looks terrific -- and who doesn't want to make honey goo? Or eat it for that matter. ;-)

  8. I need to check out Joanne's book. I love a sweet treat, but I feel so much better when I avoid refined sugar. The timing of your post is perfect for me:)
    Hope you're well, Lisa!

  9. These buns look divine, Lisa! It sounds like a great cookbook -- we could all use a little less sugar in our lives (unfortunately) :)

  10. I have her book in my wish list, as I like very much the idea of reducing sugar in baking goods, in ways that will not compromise flavor. She definitely has the skills to do just that...

    I love cashews, this recipe seems like a nice variation on rolls

  11. Reducing refined sugar and still enjoying wonderful treats like this is a brilliant idea.

  12. Gosh, that sounds like a nifty cookbook! Love the others. I'm not a chocoholic either, but I do hope you'll try (and post) one of the recipes from that chapter.
    I doubt we'd even notice the lack of sugar in these beauties, Lisa. Honey does it all.

  13. This book sounds so great. I love that it doesn't use any artificial sweeteners. I'm definitely pinning these buns to make soon. They look so good!

  14. Great minds think alike! I made these, too! The first recipe I've made from this book. I love them. Not too sweet, yet decadent in their own way. Definitely one I'll make again.


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