Earl Grey Buns
It’s a quiet Sunday morning and the sweet smell of Earl Grey tea fills your kitchen. Only it’s not coming from the kettle on the stove, but the batch of Earl Grey buns you’re cooking in your cast-iron skillet. Erin Clarkson’s recipe from Cloudy Kitchen is tender, flaky and tastes like serenity. Sound divine? That’s because it is. (Oh, and don’t be intimidated by the long prep time—most of it’s hands-off rising).
Earl Grey Sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons loose-leaf Earl Grey tea
1⅔ cup whole milk
3 tablespoons loose-leaf earl grey tea
2¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
6 tablespoons Earl Grey sugar, divided
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon bergamot extract (optional)
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup earl grey sugar
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons earl grey-infused milk (reserved from dough)
1 tablespoon earl grey sugar
1. Make the Earl Grey Sugar: Add the sugar and loose-leaf tea to the bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse until the tea is finely ground and well combined with the sugar. Remove and set aside.
2. Make the Bun Dough: In a small pan, heat the milk to just shy of a simmer. Add the loose-leaf tea, and cook for 2 minutes. Strain well, squeezing as much liquid from the tea as possible. Measure out 1 cup of the infused milk and transfer to a small microwave-safe bowl. Set aside the rest for use in the glaze.
3. Place the bowl in the microwave and re-warm in 5-second increments until it feels lukewarm (slightly warmer than your body temperature). Stir in the yeast and 2 tablespoons of the Earl Grey sugar. Let the mixture sit until it’s foamy, 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, baking powder, salt and the remaining 4 tablespoons earl grey sugar. Mix briefly to combine. Add the milk mixture and the egg; mix on low until combined, about 3 minutes. Add the melted butter and bergamot extract, and mix on medium-low, stopping occasionally to scrape the dough off the hook, until the dough is smooth and soft, about 10 minutes.
5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, 1½ hours to 2 hours.
6. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a 21-by-16 inch rectangle. Spread the soft butter all over the surface of the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge.
7. Make the Filling: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and earl grey sugar. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the dough, pressing down lightly to adhere. Starting with the long side of the dough, roll it up tightly, pausing occasionally to tighten the roll.
8. Cut the roll into 10 even slices and arrange in a lightly greased 10-inch skillet, 10-inch cake pan, or 9-by-13-inch baking dish, leaving a small amount of space between each. Cover lightly with plastic, and leave in a warm place until increased in size, and the dough bounces back slightly when pressed with a finger, about 1 hour. Alternatively, you can do the second proof in the fridge overnight.
9. During the last 20 minutes or so of rising, preheat the oven to 350˚F. Bake the rolls until they’re golden brown and you can see the filling starting to bubble up, 30 to 35 minutes.
10. Make the Glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, infused milk and earl grey sugar. Drizzle over the buns.