Meyer Lemon Sugar Crunch Buns with Platinum Yeast (and a contest!)

UPDATE!  WE HAVE A WINNER!  Vicki (please email me at with your address).  

Vicki wrote:

Blogger Vicki said...
Just finished your book Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker. Really enjoyed it. I work in corporate America and think about baking too. My husband says I have little Pillsbury dough boys running around in my head!! Thanks for sharing this recipe with us and showing us the new platinum yeast.
September 17, 2012 4:16 PM

I'm just going to come out and admit that I eat sugar cubes.  I'm like a horse that way; I see a glittering square of sweet and I ferret it into my mouth.

So it shouldn't surprise you a single bit that one of my favorite sweet buns is a craquelin, a brioche based pastry peppered with sugar cubes.  When my craquelin craving hit fast and loose yesterday, I ran out to the grocer to pick up a box of sweet bits in the baking aisle, hightailing it through produce like a thoroughbred.  I screeched to a halt when I caught site of the gentle orange of the lemon that's not exactly a lemon:  the Meyer. I picked up a few to join the crunchy bun party.

At home, I made my sponge, let it rest and continued on with the dough, only to realize that I had too few eggs, 7 too few to be exact, to continue with my recipe.  I ran to the chicken coop, wrangled 2 more eggs, which left me needing 5 more.  No luck in the fridge but I did find some half-and-half.  I poured in just enough to allow the dough to do it's thing and then added my butter and my sugar cubes.  I was completely cognizant of the fact that I was on my way to making doughy hockey pucks with my egregious substitutions but that hockey puck would be studded with crackly sugar cubes and saturated with Meyer Lemon goodness, so St. Honoré would just have to let this one sin fly under the radar...and I had another trick up my sleeve that I'd added to the sponge that could save the day.

Just as I put my dough into the proof box, Ray poked his head into the kitchen, "we've got just 1/2 an hour before we're expected at Dartmouth College for the opening of The Black Family Visual Arts Center!  Get defloured!" An hour and 1/2 later, flour and apron free, I'm sitting in the game design department called the TiltFactor Lab of the Arts Center, playing Pox:  Save the People, a game wherein you try to save the human population from a dread contagion.  No matter how I planned out my cyber vaccination plan in order to save the human race, I managed to kill everyone.  On my 3rd try, as I'm notified on the iPad screen that yet again the game's over due to mass human extinction at my hand, I remembered that I'd left my craquelin dough in the steamy confines of my proof box without any hope for survival.  Good golly, I'm a modern day Typhoid Mary.

FYI:  I'm not to be entrusted with saving the world from contagion.

We get home to an onslaught of 2 hungry Catahoulas and the aroma of that the bready and citrus brioche dough.  I dread what I'll find in the proof box.  But maybe, just maybe, my secret ingredient will have saved the day.  For you see, I added Platinum Red Star Yeast to the dough.  It's a new fangled instant yeast that includes dough enhancers.  I've partnered with Red Start to launch this new marvel in the baking world so I know that one of the beauties of this yeast is that it takes so much of the guess work of playing with yeast out of the equation:  is it proofed enough, is it over proofed, is it alive, is it too sweet a dough to handle yeast is, is the ratio of wheat flour to high to allow for a decent rise?  No matter, Platinum yeast is going to work beautifully in almost all circumstances.  But let's be fair here, not even this super yeast can save my onslaught of destruction.  Just as the cyber population of the world has fallen dead under my ministration, so shall this yeast perish under my negligence.

A perfect orb of sugary goodness.

But ho!  What's this?  The dough has risen extraordinarily and hasn't yet fallen.  And I don't smell that heartbreaking malodor, "dead yeast funk."  So I carry on, even though the sugar cubes have melted a bit from the sultry heat.  I divide the dough and  I make my single loaf and my precious buns.  And what do you know?  Glorious.  Every bit is a crunchy, Meyer lemon celebration.

Here's the video, for you viewing pleasure.  The crunchy bun recipe follows!  And if you'd like a little gift basked of lovely baking goodies, including Platinum Yeast, a stripy apron like I use (sans flour) and other treats, please leave a comment and I'll choose a lucky winner on October 1st!

NOTE!  Platinum Red Star Yeast is available NOW all across the country.  Check their website: for a store near you.  And sadly, this contest is limited to the United States.

Meyer Lemon Crunchy Buns with Platinum Yeast

(Makes 20 sugar buns or 10 sugar buns and one 9" loaf)


For the sponge

2 packages Platinum Red Star Yeast
1 cup luke warm milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
10 ounces bread flour

For the dough

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 eggs
1 cup (plus extra just in case) half-and-half
Zest and juice from two Meyer Lemons
2 pounds all purpose flour
8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
32 sugar cubes (Domino Sugar makes sugar "tablets", these you should chop in half but still use 32)
Loaf optional ingredient:  4 ounces almond paste)

To Finish

1/2 cup turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
egg wash (one egg whisk together with 2 tablespoons water)


For the sponge

•Add the warm milk to a mixing bowl fit with the dough hook attachment.  Then add the flour, yeast and sugar.  Mix until a very soft dough forms, about 2 to 3 minutes.  Cover with a damp dish cloth and set in a warm area of your kitchen until the sponge doubles in size, about an hour.

For the dough

•Preheat your oven to 350º.

•Whisk together the eggs, the 1 cup half and half and the juice and zest.  To the sponge, add the flour, the granulated sugar and salt. Start mixing and add the egg, half and half and Meyer lemon mixture.  If the dough is very dry, add a few more tablespoons of half and half.

•Add the butter, a few pieces at a time, and continue mixing until the dough no longer looks shaggy but becomes a smooth, shiny dough.  Just as the dough is starting to look right, add the sugar cubes and continue mixing until they are well incorporated.  Spray a large bowl with non-stick cooking spray and transfer the dough to the bowl.  Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray and cover everything with plastic wrap.

•Set aside in a warm area of your kitchen until doubled in volume, about an hour.

•Punch dough down and transfer to a floured surface.

•Cut the dough in half.  Divide one half of the dough into 10 even pieces and roll into uniform balls, placing the balls on a parchment lined sheet pan, seam side down and spaced a few inches apart.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof until they have barely doubled in size.

•For the loaf, gently pat the dough into a 10" long and 6" wide rectangle.  Roll the almond paste into a 9" long rope and place in the middle of the dough.  Fold the two sides of the dough over the almond paste and place the dough into a 9" long loaf pan, tucking the ends gently under.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to just double in size.

•Brush the tops of the buns and loaf with egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.  Bake the buns for 25 to 30 minutes or until they are golden brown and spring back gently when poked.  Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes until golden brown.

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