We're counting down the days to a couple of pretty momentous events this week.
One is Canada's 150th birthday, which will involve a whole lot of epic celebrations from coast to coast, along with the mass consumption of many iconic Canadian foods like butter tarts, poutine, Timbits and beer.
The other is my big home renovation, which involves going through ten years' worth of clutter, packing up my worldly possessions, and moving into a teensy basement bachelor apartment for the next couple of months.
I'll let you guess which of these two I'm more excited about right now. (Hint: It's not the one that involves a giant stack of cardboard boxes.)
Funnily enough, this recipe came about as a convenient byproduct of both of these events. I blame it on a combination of a long-forgotten bag of maple sugar that was lurking in the back of the pantry, a nearly-empty jar of yeast in the fridge, a desperate need to stress-eat large quantity of carbohydrates, and a perfect excuse to bake up a patriotic maple-scented treat for the upcoming holiday.
Procrasti-baking. It's totally a thing.
As it turns out, these buns are so delicious that they really shouldn't need any excuse to exist. They start with my basic morning bun dough, a rich brioche base that bakes up into soft and fluffy and not-too-sweet, which acts as an ideal canvas for the subtle sweetness of a pure maple sugar swirl. A final drizzle of maple syrup frosting is an entirely optional (but highly recommended) finishing touch.
If you do need an excuse to indulge, however, there's no better time than this Saturday, when the whole of Canada throws one hell of an epic party in celebration of 150 years since its official confederation.
We Canadians pride ourselves on being an inclusive bunch, so even if you're not one of us, you can still join the party on July 1st with your very own Canadian-themed brunch.
Pop a batch of these buns into the oven, fry up a pan of peameal bacon, throw on your favourite plaid shirt, and put together a playlist of your favourite Canadian bands. (Personally, I'll be going with a mix of Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, Feist, Wolf Parade, Stars and the Tragically Hip, but go with whatever you like. Just know that I might judge you if you pick Nickelback. Sorry.)
And for maximum Canadiana, don't forget to pour yourself a piping hot double-double, and stir up a pitcher of caesars to enjoy afterwards.
As for me, I plan on celebrating by packing up the last of my boxes, and then sitting down on a bare patch of floor to enjoy one last cold beer in my old kitchen before it all gets torn down.
Happy birthday, Canada!
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup unsalted butter
- 1 package (2¼ tsp) rapid-rise yeast
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup maple sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 4 - 4½ cups flour, divided
- ½ cup maple sugar
- ¼ cup butter, softened
- ½ tsp maple extract
- 1½ cups icing sugar
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 1 tbsp milk
- ½ tsp maple extract
- In a small saucepan set over medium heat, warm up the milk and butter until the butter melts and small wisps of steam start to rise up from the surface of the milk. (It should be just slightly above lukewarm.)
- Pour the warm milk into the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add yeast and let stand until frothy, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add eggs, maple sugar, salt and vanilla extract, and beat until well combined. Working on low speed, add 4 cups of flour, and continue mixing the mixture forms into soft and elastic dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding more flour as needed if the dough is still too sticky.
- Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to a large lightly oiled mixing bowl, turning to coat the top with oil. Cover with a clean dishtowel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot until doubled in size, about 1½ hours.
- In a small mixing bowl, beat together the maple sugar, butter and maple extract until smooth and well combined.
- Punch down the dough. Transfer to a clean, lightly floured work surface, and roll out into a 15×11-inch rectangle.
- Spread the filling mixture onto the dough, leaving a small border around the edges. Starting with one of the long sides, roll the dough into log, then pinch the seam closed. Using a length of dental floss or a sharp knife, cut the dough crosswise into 18 equal slices (each about ½ to ¾ inch wide).
- Lightly butter three 9-inch round pans. Arrange the rolls cut-side-up in the pans, spacing them as evenly as possible (don't worry if the rolls look too far apart right now - they'll expand to fill the pan during the next rise).
- Cover baking dishes with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in warm draft-free area until the buns are doubled in size and have almost filled the pan, about 40-45 minutes. (Or, if you prefer, transfer them to the refrigerator to rise overnight, and then bake in the morning.)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Bake the rolls in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes before frosting.
- Once the rolls are partly cooled, whisk the icing sugar with maple syrup, milk and maple extract in a small bowl, and drizzle all over the rolls before serving.