If I could change one thing about myself, I think I’d like to be a morning person. I really like mornings (especially the lazy variety), but I have such difficulty getting myself out of bed that I rarely enjoy them. It’s a whole horrible, eight-alarm ordeal on weekdays and I almost always sleep past 11 on the weekends, so I’m either a bleary-eyed mess or out like a light for the start of most days. But, on extremely rare occasions, I wake up early of my own volition—usually with the aid of jackhammers outside my window or the sun shining in my eyes—and I get to enjoy the morning, starting with making myself a nice breakfast.Sometimes mixing flour, sugar, and butter is an act of self-care.
Exhibit A: An unfortunately-timed 6am wake-up call last Saturday was turned around when I realized I had time to make myself a Puff Pancake, my childhood favorite weekend breakfast.
Exhibit B: These Nutella Morning Buns, which I made the previous Saturday when my roommate’s cute pup had to air some early morning grievances. They helped change the trajectory of my day: I got to treat myself, and the batch is large enough that I got to share with eleven of my closest acquaintances! Most everyone loves a fresh pastry swirled with warm Nutella ❤For something so rustic and beautiful, Nutella Morning Buns are surprisingly simple to make and come together in a pretty reasonable amount of time. It takes me about two hours to make a batch from the time I decide that a soft, warm bun full of chocolate-hazelnut spread might be nice to the time I dust them with confectioner’s sugar and dig in.The dough is very straightforward. It’s got all the usual suspects: flour, a little sugar, butter, milk, and an egg. It requires yeast, of course, but I use the instant stuff here, which simplifies the already simple process, making these buns incredibly approachable.
I’m not the sort of person who bestows wishes or blessings on people, but if I were, I think I’d say “May all your yeast doughs be approachable.” Is that weird? It’s probably weird. 🙂 If there’s anything that’s intimidating about making Nutella Morning Buns, it’s probably shaping. Never fear though—it’s really simple and satisfying. Once your dough has risen for 40 minutes, punch it down and roll it into a large rectangle. Spread it with a thin layer of Nutella and then fold it like a letter, so that you have alternating layers of dough and filling. Use a sharp chef’s knife to trim off the ends and slice the rest into a dozen 8×1” strips.Working with one strip at a time, twist it up. Then cross the two ends over each other and tuck them into the hole that forms in the center. BOOM! Dough shaped!Repeat with the rest of your strips and then let them rise a little longer. If some ends come untucked, just nudge ‘em back with your fingers before baking. Or don’t. These are the sort of buns that can take all sorts of manipulation and still look gorgeous when all is said and done. And even if they don’t, a swipe of melted butter and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar can cure all manner of ugly pastry.But is there such a thing as ugly pastry when Nutella is involved? I don’t think so. Or if there is, nobody who tried one of these buns during testing found the time to tell me. Oh, and all the test batches were gone (GONE!) within 45 minutes of coming out of the oven, so I’ll just let that speak for itself.I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to have anything but a beautiful morning when these are around.
Nutella Morning Buns
makes 12 buns
2 3/4-3 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
1 large egg, room temperature
2/3 cup Nutella
2 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar
In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, sugar, instant yeast, and salt. Set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter and milk together until just warm to the touch, about 95-110 degrees.
Crack the egg into a small mixing bowl. Whisking constantly, add the butter/milk mixture in a thin stream until completely combined. Add mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead 5-6 minutes, until smooth. Gather dough into a ball and place it in an oiled bowl, making sure to get a little oil on all sides. Stretch some plastic wrap over the top and allow dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment for 40 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
In the meantime, line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
Shape the buns. Return dough to floured surface. Flour a rolling pin and roll dough into an 18×12-inch rectangle. Spread dough with Nutella, leaving a 1/2-inch border on all sides.
Carefully grab one short side of the dough and fold it over the center, so that the dimensions are now 12×12-inches. Fold the other short side over the top so that the dimensions are 12×6-inches. Tap edges “closed” with your rolling pin.
Carefully lift and turn dough over so that the seam is against the floured surface. Roll the dough so that the dimensions are 14×8-inches. You may lose a bit of filling. This is normal.
Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim the short edges of the dough by about 1/2-inch. Slice dough into 12 strips. Working with one strip at a time, twist the ends until you have a loosely-twisted rope of dough. Carefully bring ends toward one another until they cross over one another and create a small hole. Tuck ends into that hole. Place shaped buns on prepared pans, leaving about 6 inches of space between (I can get 6 on a half-sheet sized pan).
Cover pans loosely with wax paper (or parchment) and let rise in a warm, draft-free environment for another 25-30 minutes. Remove wax paper (or parchment). They will not seem to have changed drastically, but if you poke one with your finger, the indentation should remain. If any ends have come loose, just nudge them back into the centers.
Place overnight racks in the center positions. Preheat oven to 375F. Bake buns for 10 minutes. Rotate pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake another 7-8 minutes, or until golden brown.
Brush warm buns with melted butter. Let cool 10 minutes before dusting with confectioner’s sugar and serving.
Baked buns are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or so. I’ve never had them last longer than 45 minutes out of the oven though.