It's been hot. I'm sure a lot of you will nod your heads — languidly — in agreement. Specifically, my apartment has been hotter than the surface of the sun. (I'm not exaggerating. Just rounding up.)
It's not the sort of thing that draws me into the kitchen.
And yet I've been working on these waffled cinnamon buns for weeks.
There have been a lot of missteps. And they could still stand to be improved upon. My ideal waffled cinnamon bun — the one I had in my head before I started in on this — showcases the distinctive swirl of cinnamon and sugar. That seems to get lost when you waffle them.
But I have at least come up with a workable version.
When it came to waffling, I'm not sure it was the recipe that mattered so much as the preparation and serving method.
The problem, in general, was that when the bun met the waffle grid, the swirl tended to be swallowed up by the dough. Even in a cross-section of the finished product, it wasn't readily apparent that these were waffled cinnamon buns. Yes, the aroma and the flavor were there. But we eat first with our eyes, and I was never able to capture that distinctive swirl in waffled form. Your ideas on that topic are welcome.
Meanwhile, there was the problem of texture. Pressed between two grids, the waffled cinnamon buns don't rise as much as they do when they're unencumbered. This makes them unpleasantly dense and chewy.
Unwaffled cinnamon buns typically call for the dough to be cut into thicknesses of about an inch to an inch-and-a-half. Maybe, I thought, there was just too much dough. Maybe a half-inch-thick cinnamon bun would waffle more effectively.
No such luck. It was less dense, but still clearly did not rise enough between the waffle grids.
So what then?
I continued experimenting, baking off part of each batch as conventional cinnamon buns so that the experiments wouldn't be a total loss.
(Along the way, I came to appreciate my silicone pastry brush — not just because it didn't leave weird hairs on the dough as I brushed it with milk or butter, but also because I accidentally dropped it onto the burner when I was melting the butter, and rather than bursting into flames, it emerged unscathed.)
In a set of parallel considerations, I was debating how to dress the waffled cinnamon buns. Icing was my first inclination, but it's a little one-note and dull. Essentially just powdered sugar with a bit of vanilla and a few drops of milk to thin it out, it doesn't introduce anything to the cinnamon bun that's not already there. It's sugar on top of sugar.
My thoughts turned to cream cheese frosting — and then just to cream cheese. I spread some onto one of the waffled cinnamon buns and took a bite. Tasty.
From there, I addressed the density issue by slicing the waffled bun in half down its equator. This let the cream cheese provide a bit of breathing room between the two pieces of waffled bun.
They're not great. But they are pretty good.
Because of what I started out with in my head, I can't consider these a complete success. But they're certainly one of my better failures.