Warm-Your-Heart Buns

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Warm-Your-Heart Buns

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Published prior to 2008

We originally printed a version of this recipe, Lemon Buns, in our May-June, 1996 Baking Sheet newsletter. Since then, we've amended it to use either lemon oil or our new favorite, Fiori di Sicilia flavor, an Italian citrus-vanilla flavoring that we use in place of vanilla in all kinds of treats, from sugar cookies to pound cake.

These are quintessential hot yeast buns -- but with an unexpected and refreshing jolt of citrus. The citrus essence elevates them beyond ordinary dinner rolls to something special: tea or breakfast rolls, perfect for spreading with homemade preserves (we recommend raspberry highly). Tender and buttery, with a crisp, sugar-sweetened crust, they're distinctly and assertively citrus, but not inherently sweet: a new and interesting concept in baked goods. Our taste-testers uniformly raved over this recipe; as one said, "The aroma is stronger than the taste, but the two together give the bun a subtle and very nice flavor."

3/4 cup (6 ounces) water
1/4 cup (2 ounces, 1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 egg + 1 egg yolk (reserve white for topping)
1/4 teaspoon lemon oil OR 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Fiori di Sicilia*
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons (5/8 ounce) Baker's Special Dry Milk or nonfat dry milk
3 cups (12 3/8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast

1 egg white mixed with 1/4 cup sparkling white sugar OR 1 egg white + pearl sugar
*1/4 teaspoon is mild; 1/2 teaspoon is very assertive. We recommend something in between.

Manual/Mixer Method: Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large mixing bowl and stir to form a cohesive dough. Knead the dough, by hand (on a lightly oiled work surface) or mixer, for 5 to 8 minutes, until it's smooth, soft and supple; avoid adding too much flour, as this will make the buns tough and dry. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it's puffy, though it probably won't have doubled in bulk.

Bread Machine Method: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your machine, program the machine for Manual or Dough, and press Start. When the machine has completed its cycle, set a timer for 30 minutes, and allow the dough to continue to rise.

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled work surface, and divide it into 16 pieces. Allow the pieces to rest, covered, for 10 minutes. Round the dough into balls, and place them in a lightly greased 12 x 12-inch sticky bun pan, or 12-inch round or 9 x 13-inch pan. Cover the pan, and allow the buns to rise for about 1 1/2 hours, or until they're nice and puffy; when you press a finger gently into a bun, the resulting indentation shouldn't spring back.

While the buns are rising, combine the egg white and sparkling white (coarse) sugar, and set aside. If you're using pearl sugar, simply beat the egg white to loosen it up, and have the pearl sugar on hand.

When the buns are risen, slather them heavily with the egg white/sugar glaze. Or, if you're using pearl sugar, brush them with egg white, and sprinkle heavily with pearl sugar. Bake the buns in a preheated 350°F oven for 22 to 25 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Remove the buns from the oven, and transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm, or store in an airtight container (a plastic bag is fine) until ready to serve. Yield: 16 buns.

Note: Apricots are a nice touch in these buns. Use 2/3 cup (2 3/4 ounces) slivered, dried apricots, kneading them into the dough after the first rise, just before shaping.

Nutrition information per serving (1 bun, 46g): 133 cal, 4g fat, 4g protein, 17g complex carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 1g dietary fiber, 35mg cholesterol, 180mg sodium, 63mg potassium, 43RE vitamin A, 1mg iron, 16mg calcium, 47mg phosphorus.