Glossy, warm, pull-apart, sticky cinnamon buns are just dreamy. I often long to have an Oompa Loompa at my disposal: I would make it bake sticky buns for breakfast, hot out of the oven and bring them to me on a silver platter, accompanied by a cold glass of milk with a single ice cube. Lacking an extra-small orange butler, however, there is nothing but for me to bake my own sticky buns and personally plop an ice cube into my glass of milk.
We all do it: we wander around the airport waiting for our flight to begin boarding, killing time by stepping in and out of newsstands, perusing the latest paperback crime thrillers, leafing through fashion glossies, wondering whether we should buy one of those vibrating neck pillows.
Our flight gets delayed. We call friends, check Facebook, tweet nasty messages about the airline, decide the vibrating neck pillow was a stupid impulse buy and may lead to permanent brain damage, throw the lame crime thriller to the side (of course it was the creepy sister!). There’s nothing to do but take another lap. And that’s when it happens. The scent of cinnamon hooks your nostrils and pulls you to the cinnamon bun stand. You buy a bun as big as your head and for just a little while you forget how lousy and uncivilized travel has become.
Glossy, warm, pull-apart, sticky cinnamon buns are impossible to resist, whether trapped at the airport or out-and-about. And not that your everyday bun needs much improving on, but when I discovered the Venezuelan version I had to wonder if I’d been missing something all these years. Golfeados are sugar-and-cinnamon-laden, but have the unexpected addition of fragrant anis seeds and salty, shredded white cheese. Partway through baking, the golfeados are glazed with melado, a panela (in this recipe substituted with dark brown sugar) based simple syrup. Once out of the oven, another coat of sticky melado is painted on. The result: buns that are candied on the outside and soft, buttery, cheesy, and spiced inside their coils. Sprinkled with more cheese and served with robust coffee, these are divinos.
Notes: If you are unable to find Latin American cheeses, substitute it with haloumi, a Cypriot cheese made with goat’s and/or sheep’s milk available at certain supermarkets and specialty stores.
Servings: makes 12
Equipment: electric mixer with dough hook attachment, rolling pin, parchment paper, large baking sheet, cooling rack, medium saucepan, pastry brush, plastic wrap
For the Dough
¾ cup warm milk (110° to 115°F)
2 (1/4-once packages) active dry yeast
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting counter and rolling pin
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon anis seeds
Vegetable oil for greasing bowl
For the Filling
8 ounces Latin American firm white cheese, finely grated (See Notes)
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon anis seeds
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
For the Melado (Glaze)
1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup water
For the dough: Combine ¼ cup milk, yeast, and ¼ teaspoon sugar in small bowl. Let stand until mixture foams, 5 to 10 minutes.
Combine remaining sugar, dark brown sugar, flour, and salt in large bowl. Add remaining milk, eggs, honey, vanilla, and yeast mixture and mix on low speed with hook attachment until ingredients are combined, about 2 minutes.
Add butter and anis and mix on medium speed until a smooth, shiny dough forms, 6 to 8 minutes.
Lightly oil a large bowl. Place dough in bowl, cover with clean, damp kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
For the filling: Meanwhile, combine all but 2 tablespoons cheese, dark brown sugar, cinnamon, and anis in medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
Lightly dust a clean, dry work surface with flour. Coat hands lightly with flour (dough will be sticky) and transfer to work surface. Lightly rub rolling pin with flour. Roll the dough out to into a 16- by 14-inch rectangle.
Brush the dough with butter, leaving a ½-inch border on all sides. Sprinkle the buttered area with cheese mixture.
Beginning with the long side, roll the dough to form a 16-inch-long log. As you roll, brush off excess flour with a clean, dry pastry brush.
Cut the log crosswise into 12 rolls. Arrange rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut-side up. Press down to gently flatten (the rolls will cinch as you cut them).
Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Bake 20 minutes until golden.
Make the melado: While the golfeados are baking, combine brown sugar and water in medium saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved. Reduce heat to medium and cook syrup until thickened, syrupy, and reduced to 1 ½ cups, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
After golfeados have been baking for 20 minutes, brush them with half of the melado and return to oven for 10 minutes.
Transfer baking sheet to cooling rack and brush golfeados with remaining melado. Cool about 10 minutes and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Serve warm.