**Update** The chocolate filling as written is too bitter. I adapted it from a babka recipe which had a bit more sugar directly in the dough which may have compensated for this quality.
There seems to be some confusion about what morning buns are. Many recipes seem to be confusing them with cinnamon rolls and are making them with rich brioche doughs. In reality, morning buns are sweet, cinnamon pastries made with a laminated croissant dough. Here, Cook’s Country cheats with a quick puff pastry.
Kouign amann are similar in their modern incarnation, but originally kouign amann were large butter cakes and not the petite pastries they are typically sold as now.
I have added a bit of sugar outside of the dough in order to give it a crunchy, caramelized texture akin to kouign amann. I also include a traditional cinnamon filling and an alternate chocolate filling.
(Heavily adapted from Cook’s Country)
3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2¼ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
¾ teaspoon salt
24 tablespoons (12 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch slices and chilled
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream, chilled
¼ cup (2 ounces) orange juice, chilled
3 tablespoons ice water
1 large egg yolk
Additional 1/2 cup sugar
1. For the dough Combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in 1-gallon zipper-lock bag. Add butter to bag, seal, and shake to coat. Press air out of bag and reseal. Roll over bag several times with rolling pin, shaking bag after each roll, until butter is pressed into large flakes.
2. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in sour cream, orange juice, ice water, and egg yolk with wooden spoon until combined. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds.
3. Press and roll dough into 20 by 12-inch rectangle, with short side parallel to counter edge. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go.
4. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Transfer to parchment paper–lined rimmed baking sheet, cover loosely with greased plastic wrap, and freeze for 15 minutes.
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Chocolate *Don’t Use*
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter
4.5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg white
For cinnamon filling: Combine all ingredients in bowl.
For chocolate filling: Microwave chocolate, butter, and cocoa together in medium bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, about 30 seconds. Stir in sugar until combined and let cool completely. Whisk in egg white until fully combined and mixture turns glossy.
5. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and roll into 20 by 12-inch rectangle, with long side parallel to counter edge. Spread filling, leaving ½-inch border around edges.
6. Roll dough away from you into firm cylinder, keeping roll taut by tucking it under itself as you go. Pinch seam closed, then reshape cylinder as needed to be 20 inches in length with uniform thickness.
7. Grease 12-cup muffin tin with 1 tablespoon melted butter. Coat bottom and sides of muffin cups with 2 tablespoons sugar and tap out excess.
8. Spread ¼ cup sugar onto bottom of shallow dish. Using serrated knife, trim ½ inch dough from each end and discard. Cut cylinder into 12 pieces and coat with sugar in dish and then place cut side up in muffin cups. Cover loosely with greased plastic and let rise until doubled in size, 1 to 1½ hours. (Unrisen buns can be refrigerated for at least 16 hours or up to 24 hours; let buns sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.)
9. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Sprinkle buns with 2 tablespoons sugar and sea salt and press to adhere. Bake until buns begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue to bake until buns are deep golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes, rotating muffin tin halfway through baking. Let buns cool in muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and discard liners. Serve warm.