Remembering Amy Pressman's cinnamon buns
Since the death of baker Amy Pressman last week at the too-young age of 53, we've received many requests for some of her recipes. Luckily, in addition to being pastry chef at Spago, Parkway Grill and Pasadena's Old Town Bakery, Pressman also wrote several stories for the Los Angeles Times Food section back in the 1990s. Those of us on the Food staff ancient enough to remember that far back (meaning, well, me), have a particular fondness for these absolutely amazing cinnamon buns, which were voted one of our best recipes of 1998.
-- Russ Parsons
Photo: Amy Pressman at the Old Town Bakery in 1996. Credit: Lori Shepler/Los Angeles Times
Total Preparation Time: About 4 hours 15 minutes * Active Work Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Instead of the one-hour first rise called for in the recipe, the dough can be allowed to make its first rise in the refrigerator overnight. This will save time in the morning if you plan on eating the cinnamon buns for breakfast or brunch. Because the dough will be cold, it will be firmer and easier to work with the next day, but the second rise will take longer, sometimes two or three times longer. Important: The butter should always be very soft.
6 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cups orange juice
3 (1/4-ounce) packets dry yeast
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature
Mix flour, sugar and salt in large mixing bowl, using fork to distribute evenly. Set aside.
Pour buttermilk and orange juice into saucepan and whisk over low heat until lukewarm. Sprinkle yeast over liquid and stir to dissolve.
Pour liquid onto flour in mixing bowl and add honey and butter. Mix and massage everything with both hands until all dry ingredients are absorbed into dough. Dough will be somewhat lumpy and uneven. Place dough on floured board and knead with heel of hand until somewhat smooth and elastic, 10 to 15 minutes. Warning: If dough is completely smooth, it has been overworked.
Place dough in clean, lightly greased bowl. Cover with clean dish cloth and let rise in warm, draft-free area until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
3 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 cup ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
6 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon flour
Place corn syrup, cinnamon, butter, sugar and flour in bowl and whisk until well blended. (If you make filling the day before you're going to bake, do not refrigerate overnight. Cover and leave on counter until needed.)
Sugar icing and assembly
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
Put sugar, vanilla extract and water in bowl and whisk vigorously until mixture is free of lumps.
Flour work surface generously and rolling pin lightly. Divide Bun Dough in 1/2. Roll first 1/2 into rectangle 1/2-inch thick, as evenly as you can. It should be about 10 by 12 inches.
With spatula or clean hands, spread 1/2 of Cinnamon Filling over surface of dough rectangle, stopping 1/2 inch from edge of one long side. Starting from opposite long side, roll dough up, snugly but not so tightly that you push filling out. When rolled completely, pinch 1/2-inch edge that is free of filling onto rest of length of roll to create sturdy seam.
With sharp serrated knife, cut roll crosswise into buns 1 1/2 inches thick, using sawing motion to avoid pressing down on roll. Place buns on baking pan lightly greased with butter 1 to 1 1/2 inches from each other.
Repeat with remaining dough and filling.
Cover buns and let rise until puffy and half again as large, about 1 hour. They should spring back from a light touch. About 45 minutes into this second proofing, preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Uncover baking pans and set in oven to bake at 350 degrees until slightly firm and light golden brown, about 15 minutes. Check to see that buns are cooked through to center, but if buns are too brown, they will develop undesirable crust.
Cool until warm to the touch and drizzle with generous amount of Sugar Icing.
16 buns. Each bun: 552 calories; 547 mg sodium; 63 mg cholesterol; 24 grams fat; 91 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams protein; 0.55 gram fiber.