I’ve made my fair share of “everything but the kitchen sink” goodies. Whether I’m missing an ingredient or two for a recipe, attempting to put a personal twist on a classic, or simply feeling dangerously experimental, my strategy in the kitchen has always been to reach an edible destination, no matter how unconventional the route turns out to be. I like to think that my lack of formal training makes for exciting baking–I’ll never scoff at an idea just because it’s not in line with textbook culinary principles. This mindset has, of course, yielded quite a few failures, but it’s also resulted in some pleasant surprises.
One such instance was the first time I made these buns. I was in a medical boot for a stress fracture and therefore had an entire morning and afternoon to kill during my friends’ rehearsals: I HAD to bake. Unfortunately, I had only the scant remains of a bag of all-purpose flour, not enough to complete any full recipe. I cleverly decided to half the dough recipe, and then not so cleverly forgot my decision and immediately dumped in the amount of liquid ingredients for a whole batch. Crap. Telling myself that what happens in my kitchen stays in my kitchen, I proceeded to add every flour-like substance I could dig up. The additions became progressively questionable: the last corner from a bag of cake flour, bits of whole wheat flour, slivered almonds I pulsed in my nutribullet, and even a little vanilla protein powder. After exhausting my unorthodox supplies, I was finally able to get a dough with a texture I could work with.
That night I walked into the studio where my friends were warming up before the show with three tupperwares of my mixed-bag creations, smiling obnoxiously wide as if I hadn’t purposefully drenched them in sugary glaze to cover up their rather muted color. I left them nervously and took my seat for the performance.
They were a hit! As soon as I left the theater, I was approached by multiple people raving about the buns. I thanked them all, attempting not to show the massive relief on my face.
So, to anyone who is considering trying out an unfamiliar technique, recipe, ingredient, or even another hobby, don’t let fear of failure (or the daunting criticism of food network personalities) stop you; you never know what reward you may get. And if these buns sound good to you, don’t fret if you’re running out of flour.
Since this new way gives us such confidence, we can be very bold. Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
2 Corinthians 3:12
Date “Rum” Buns (V) (makes 8 buns)
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 2 TBSP vegetable shortening
- 1/4 cup vegan sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 2 flax eggs (2 TBSP ground flax + 6 TBSP water mixed and left in fridge at least 5 min.)
- 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 2 1/4 cups flour sifted, plus more for kneading/rolling
FILLING (make day before)
- 1/4 cup applesauce
- 3/4 cup chopped dates
- 1/4 tsp rum extract
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 1/4 C. water
- 1/2 cup vegan brown sugar (preferably dark)
- 1/4 cup almond milk
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/8 tsp rum extract
- pinch allspice
- Stir all filling ingredients until well combined in container. Adjust to taste. Cover with lid and let sit in fridge overnight.
- Microwave milk in glass measuring cup until just boiling, 2-3 minutes. Stir in shortening, sugar, and salt. Let cool until lukewarm while you move onto next step (to expedite cooling, place in fridge or freezer but check frequently to make sure shortening doesn’t solidify).
- Sprinkle yeast over water in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; let sit five minutes.
- Pour cooled milk mixture into yeast bowl. Beat in 1 cup of the flour on medium speed until combined.
- Beat in flax eggs, apple cider vinegar, and allspice until smooth.
- Mix in the rest of the flour until combined.
- Knead on a well-floured surface until smooth, continuously working in flour to keep dough from sticking. This will take 5-10 minutes.
- Place dough in oiled bowl and flip so both sides of dough are coated. Cover and let rise in warm place for one hour or until doubled in size.
- Gently punch dough down in bowl and let rest 10 minutes. Sprinkle counter surface with more flour.
- Roll out dough to long rectangle, about 18″ x 10″
- Cut rectangle into 8 strips (parallel to 10″ side)
- Roll each strip height wise; gently press on bottom half of each roll to flatten.
- Cut flattened ends into 3 strips. Braid three strips and pinch together at the bottom.
- Roll each strip into spiral, starting with the top and wrapping braided end around outside. Tuck the very end of the braid under the roll.
- Place rolls on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and cover with saran wrap. Let rise for 30 minutes, and preheat oven to 350º.
- Bake buns for 12-15 minutes or until just browned on top (check bottoms too as the buggers burn easily).
- Make glaze while buns bake: combine all ingredients in saucepan over medium heat. Stirring often, cook until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to thicken.
- With a spoon or basting brush, pour glaze over buns, being sure to cover all sides. The glaze will adhere best if the buns have cooled, but glazing while warm is fine if you’re eating them right away.
- Enjoy while warm and gooey or wait until cool and store in airtight container at room temperature.