Morning buns are one of the most fabulous bakery pastries you’ll ever find. If you’ve never had them, they’re part cinnamon roll, part croissant, and have just a hint of citrus, which makes them totally and utterly irresistible. I could eat these every single morning for the rest of my life. I may have also eaten these in the afternoon and the evening, too. Much like my other favorite, Danish pastries, they’re an equal opportunity pastry.
Is there a better kind?!
The dough used to create these is traditionally a croissant dough, but this recipe takes a bit of a shortcut with laminating the butter, so they’re not nearly as time-consuming as actual croissants would be. Both the dough and the filling have hints of citrus, which gives them a light and bright flavor. Contrary to cinnamon rolls, which are typically made with a rich, heavy dough, the flaky croissant-like dough used here lends itself to more of a pastry texture.
I love how easily the recipe came together – the initial mixing, rolling and filling took less than 45 minutes. Then, the pan of rolls sits in the refrigerator overnight and does a quick 20 minute rise the next morning before being baked for about 45 minutes. They’re very low maintenance for such an amazing pastry! You can even prep these and freeze them to have ready to bake should you have last-minute house guests. Perfect!
If you love croissants and cinnamon rolls (and who doesn’t?!), you HAVE to make these!
1. Prepare the Dough: Combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in a large zipper-lock bag. Add the butter, seal and shake to evenly coat the butter. Press the air out of the bag and reseal. Roll over the bag several times with a rolling pin, shaking the bag after each roll, until the butter is pressed into large flakes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the sour cream, orange juice, water and egg yolk until combined.
2. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead briefly to form a smooth, cohesive ball. Roll the dough into a 20x12-inch rectangle. Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pat the cylinder flat into a 12x4-inch rectangle and transfer to a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes.
3. Prepare the Filling: Line a 12-cup muffin tin with liners and grease with non-stick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugars, orange zest, cinnamon and vanilla.
4. Remove the dough from the freezer and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a 20x12-inch rectangle and sprinkle evenly with the filling, leaving ½-inch border around the edges. Lightly press the filling into the dough. Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder and pinch lightly to seal the seam. Trim ½-inch of dough from each end and discard. Cut the cylinder into 12 equal pieces and transfer cut-side-up to the prepared muffin tin. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Once the oven reaches temperature, turn it off. Remove the muffin tin from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Place the buns in the turned-off oven until puffed and doubled in size, 20 to 30 minutes.
Remove the buns from the oven and heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 5 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake until the buns are deep golden brown, 40 to 50 additional minutes. Allow the buns to cool in the muffin tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and remove the liners. The buns are best served warm, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.
Make Ahead: After placing the buns in the muffin tin, place the tin in the freezer until the buns are firm, about 30 minutes. Transfer the buns (with the liners) to a zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To finish, return the buns to a muffin tin and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours, then proceed with step #5.