I was really hoping to present a triumphant dish for the very first installment of Bittman Mondays. I wanted to wax poetically about these cinnamon buns…extolling their flavor and texture. But it was not meant to be because these cinnamon buns were, well, awful.
Maybe awful is a bit harsh. How about “they had the texture of sugared hockey pucks”? These little suckers turned out hard, lacking any of the flakiness of a good, quality cinnamon bun (even Little Debbie did a better job than I did). I sensed trouble right about the time I left the dough to rise. The dough, a rich golden bread dough that Bittman kindly provides six different ways to use, required at least two hours of rising time. However, by the one and a half hour mark, the dough had barely risen. But my panic had risen to epic proportions. I had no clue why it wasn’t rising, so I took a look back at the recipe. I double checked all of the ingredients and went over it all in my head. Had I used the right measurements? Had I not followed the instructions step by step? Then I looked at the yeast packet and it hit me: I hadn’t used instant yeast. Yikes! I always have several packets of yeast around the house for baking bread, but one quick look and I realized it wasn’t instant. Nope…just regular old active-dry yeast. You would think such a thing really wouldn’t matter, right? Oh how wrong you are! Let me explain:
Active dry yeast is the traditional kind of yeast which requires dissolution (and a sweetener in most cases) before the dough is formed and kneaded. Instant yeast, on the other hand, contains yeast enhancers, thus removing the need for dissolution in a liquid prior to the formation of the dough. And this is where the problem occurred. Bittman’s recipe doesn’t call for the yeast to be dissolved in liquid before the flour is added and the dough is formed. Because of this, the yeast wasn’t activated when I formed and kneaded the dough. No yeast activation, no rising of dough. No rising of dough, no flaky goodness. No flaky goodness, no happy Shaw Girl.
It really is a shame because I could tell the bread was rich and golden (as the name suggested) and the versatility of the dough was a bonus. Bittman detailed six different variations on his basic recipe, including rolls, saffron fruit and nut bread and of course, these cinnamon buns. And Bittman’s writing style made the directions a breeze to follow…if only I had followed them more closely. Oh well…at least they photograph well, right?
Hopefully the next installment of Bittman Mondays will turn out better!Print This Recipe