makes one dozen buns
Bake in two large muffin/cupcake pans, (also known as ‘Texas’ muffin pans) 6-wells per pan (my pans measure 8 ½ “ x 12 ¼.)
You can also bake these in a large, rectangular ovenproof baking dish; make sure your pan has 2” sides and take into account that the buns will spread a bit while baking. You can bake them up the night before serving, let them cool and cover them securely with plastic wrap. Ice them with the lemon curd just before serving. I think these are best served slightly warm, the day they are baked.
These are a labor of citrus love. Arm yourself with a few lemons, limes, oranges, and a good citrus zester (preferably a microplane) and you’re ready to begin. It’s a good idea to prepare this in stages; I like to make the Lemon Curd the night before so it has a chance to thicken and chill completely. Give yourself ample time to prepare the Dough, because it takes a good 90 minutes to rise, and additional time to rise once the buns are rolled and cut. (You can let the dough rise overnight in the fridge, but you will have to let it warm up a bit the next morning before rolling it out.) I prefer to make the dough early in the morning, fortified by caffeine. The Citrus Filling takes little prep time and will sit agreeably on the counter while it waits for the dough to rise.
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Prepare the Lemon Curd-
(this recipe yields about 2 cups; you will only need ½ cup of curd to fill the Citrus Morning Buns. Don’t be tempted to overfill them- it will make it difficult to roll them up. You will use plenty of the additional curd as icing. Any leftover curd should be covered and refrigerated; it will last for up to one week.)
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ cup fresh lemon juice (from approx. 3 lemons)
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approx. 1 lemon)
7 large egg yolks
½ cup (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
In a non-reactive, heatproof bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolks. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water, creating a double boiler. Stir occasionally using a wooden spoon, until the mixture becomes very thick, and coats the spoon, leaving a line when you draw your finger through. This will take about 10-15 minutes. (It should register 172 degrees F on a candy or insta-read thermometer.) Remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer set over a bowl. Let the lemon curd cool for about 15 minutes before whisking in the butter, a little at a time, until it is thoroughly incorporated. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until completely chilled.
Prepare the Dough-
¼ cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar or Jones & Co. Pure Vanilla Sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, (1 stick) room temperature
½ cup granulated sugar or Jones & Co. Pure Vanilla Sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
¼ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten with a fork
1 cup whole milk, warm to the touch but not hot (do not substitute lowfat)
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract ( I use
3 ¾ - 4 cups bread flour, (plus additional for rolling out the dough)
In a medium bowl, combine the warm water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Let the mixture stand for 5 minutes to proof; the yeast will dissolve and become foamy.
Warm the milk in a pyrex container in the microwave for 15 seconds on low power, just to take the chill off of it. (Alternatively, warm it in a saucepan over low heat on top of the stove, very briefly so it is warm to the touch, just 100 degrees F. Do not overheat it or let it boil or it will kill the yeast.)
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamy. In a medium bowl, place the ½ cup of sugar and the citrus zests, rubbing the mixture together with your fingertips to release the citrus oils. Gradually add the sugar/zest mixture and the salt to the butter, beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, mixing to blend, then slowly add the milk. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Stir in the yeast mixture. (The 3¾ cups of flour is added in thirds, 1¼ cups at a time.) Gradually add 1¼ cups of flour to the butter mixture, beating on low speed until thoroughly combined. If your mixer has a dough hook attachment, place that on the machine now. If not, add the next 1¼ cups of flour using the paddle attachment, making sure the flour is well combined. Add the last 1¼ cups of flour, and wait and see if you need to add any additional flour. The dough should be soft and come away from the sides of the mixing bowl. (You can add an additional 1 or 2 tablespoons if the dough is very sticky, but less will yield a lighter dough.) Continue beating the dough on low speed for an additional five minutes. (If you do not have a heavy duty stand mixer, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic when ready.)
After the dough has been kneaded, place it in a large, well-buttered, mixing bowl; turn the dough so it is lightly coated with butter. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place, until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
Prepare the Citrus Filling-
¼ cup unsalted butter, (4 tablespoons) room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar or ¾ cup Jones & Co. Pure Vanilla Sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (from approx. 1 lemon)
2 teaspoons orange zest (from approx. 1 orange)
1 teaspoon lime zest (from 1 lime)
In a medium bowl, use a rubber spatula or a fork to blend together the butter, sugar and zests. Set aside at room temperature so it stays spreadable.
Prepare the Egg Wash. (This will be brushed along the edge of the rolled dough to seal it.)
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons of water or milk
When ready to Roll the Dough-
Lightly butter the two muffin pans or the one baking pan.
Gently punch down the risen dough. On a lightly floured surface, turn out the dough and use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a rectangle, 12” x 18”. Use a ruler or a bench scraper to straighten the edges of the dough. Use an offset spatula to spread the citrus filling evenly over the dough, leaving a one inch border all the way around. Measure out ½ cup of lemon curd and gently spread it over the citrus filling. Starting with the long side, roll up the dough jellyroll style, easing the roll with your fingers to keep it an even thickness. Don't worry if a little bit of the filling peeks out from the dough, use your offset spatula to tuck it back in. Brush the long edge closest to you with a little egg wash; this will help seal the roll. Mark the jellyroll with a small paring knife in 1½” widths; this will give you 12 pieces. Use a serrated knife to cut off any stragglers on the end of the jellyroll, so the roll is even. Brush a little egg wash on the open ends and pinch them closed.
The easiest way to divide the roll is to use a long piece of dental floss; guide it beneath the jellyroll, bring it up and cross it, pulling the floss to slice through the dough. Divide the pieces of dough evenly between the two lightly buttered pans, cover the pans with clean kitchen towels and let the dough rise for about 40 minutes, until the buns have doubled in size. About 15 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden. Every oven is different and dark sided pans tend to yield a slightly darker result. Keep an eye on things! Check the buns at the 20 minute mark to make sure they are not getting too brown; if so, you can cover them with a sheet of parchment paper. Check them again at 25 minutes- their internal temperature should be 190 degrees F. If not, or they feel doughy, they may need an additional few minutes.
Remove from the oven, set aside to cool for about 15 minutes, then carefully run a small offset spatula or paring knife around the edge of each bun, easing them out of the pan and on to a cooling rack. Let cool a bit before icing them with lemon curd. Any leftovers should be kept in an airtight container and refrigerated. Again, they are best enjoyed the day they are baked.