Amanda’s post on making cinnamon buns reminded me of the time I made my first batch of sweet sugar buns. This was before I’d started making bread regularly and I was relatively inexperienced with yeast based products.
My Dad, then a spritely 84 year old, had bought me a pack of Allan’s Sugar Buns. Made by a Toronto bakery, it was the only purveyor (I knew of) selling authentic Jamaican style sugar (pronounced shu-gah) buns. Fresh from the oven, the buns were warm, soft and gooey with a mildly sweet, slightly crunchy sugar glaze. It was a basic sweet bun with no adornment. No frosting, no raisins or nuts, with hardly an embellishment of spice. It was GOOD.
My Dad and I had an inane discussion on the making of the glaze. Inexperienced bakers both, we pontificated on whether the sugar wash was added before or after baking. My Dad claimed after. I said before. Neither of us had a clue.
Inspired, I looked for recipes on how to make Jamaican style Sugar Buns. Not surprisingly, there were none. I did find a recipe for Cinnamon Buns in Peter Reinharts’ Artisan Breads book.
He described it as an All-Purpose Sweet Dough, versatile enough to make everything from sticky buns to fruit-filled pastries. I liked the part where he said it had ‘less work and fewer calories.’ Being an American baker, he compensated by including instructions for a fondant glaze and cream cheese frosting. For my version, I opted for a craisin and nut filling with a simple sugar glaze made with brown sugar, water and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Peter’s recipe was a retard one. Hey, I’m not being rude. It’s a bread baking term meaning the dough rests overnight in the fridge. The cooler temperature inhibits or retards, the yeast and allows for deeper flavor development.
Unfortunately for me, I wanted to taste the buns right away. Luckily, the recipe made twice as much dough as I had baking pans to cook them. I divided the batch into two, stored one in the fridge and baked the other.
Later, as the buns cooled on a wire rack, I contemplated the sorry array of irregularly sized buns. They smelled great but lacked the uniformity of well shaped buns. One in particular, a smallish runt stood apart. It volunteered for a taste test. It was GOOD! It had all the yumminess of a sugar bun with the added bonus of fruit, nuts and a zesty finish. Delicious.
By the way, my Dad was right. The sugar wash is added after baking. Experience or no, father always knows best 🙂