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What Is Laminated Dough?
Laminating dough is the process of folding butter into dough multiple times to create thin alternating layers of butter and dough. Unlike other baked goods where butter is often creamed into the sugar and flour, the layering process results in a pastry with hundreds of flaky, airy layers. Laminated doughs are often used for croissants and puff pastry.
How to Fold Laminated Dough
The process for making all laminated doughs is essentially the same. You begin with a block of butter and simple dough, which you fold around the butter. The dough, with the butter inside of it, is then rolled out, folded over itself multiple times, and chilled—a process that is repeated multiple times in order to create layers of fat in the dough. Tip: It’s important that the butter is truly softened to make forming the butter block easy. Once perfectly room temperature, the butter will be spreadable and have the consistency of cream cheese.
- Make a Butter Block: Draw an 8 by 11-inch rectangle on a piece of parchment paper with a pencil. Flip the parchment over so the butter won’t come into contact with the pencil marks. Place the softened butter in the center of the square and cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to spread the butter evenly to fill the square. Refrigerate overnight.
- The Envelope and Letter Fold. In this method, a rectangular butter block is folded into the dough like an envelope. Roll dough into a 12 by 16-inch rectangle, big enough to wrap over the butter block. Place butter in the center of the rolled dough. Fold the corners of the dough over the butter, covering it completely like an envelope. Roll the dough out into a rectangle shape. From the top side, fold one-third of the dough onto itself, keeping the edges lined up with each other. From the bottom side, fold the remaining one-third of dough on top of the side that has already been folded. Line up all the edges so that you are left with a smaller rectangle. This technique is called a “letter fold,” since the dough is folded as if it were a piece of paper going inside an envelope. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place on a sheet pan. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to relax the gluten.
The Best Morning Bun Recipe
A decadent, buttery, and flaky morning treat, these morning buns are made with laminated pastry dough and finished with orange zest and cinnamon-sugar. Although laminating dough takes some time and patience, the results will be worth it!
For the Dough:
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed (108-110°F)
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for insides of muffin tins
- 4 cups, plus 1 1/2 tablespoons bread flour
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing and brushing
For the Butter Block:
- 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
For the Filling:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- grated zest from one orange
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Make the Dough:
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the warm milk, egg, egg yolk, and instant yeast. Add the sugar, flour, and salt to the mixture, and beat on low speed with the dough hook attachment until dough starts to form. With the mixer running on low speed, add butter one tablespoon at a time. Once all the butter has been added, increase speed to medium and knead until dough is smooth and combined, about 3–5 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 1 hour until doubled in size.
- Punch down the risen dough and transfer to a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, shape the dough into a rectangle, about 8 by 10 inches. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let chill in the fridge overnight.
Make the Butter Block:
- Trace an 8 by 11-inch rectangle on parchment paper, flip the paper over. Slice cold butter into tablespoons and arrange within the traced rectangle. Cover butter with a second sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, beat butter until pliable. Use a knife or bench scraper to trim butter that goes beyond the 8x11 inch rectangle.
- Keep beating and reshaping the butter, until a flat, even rectangle block has formed. Cover butter with parchment paper and plastic wrap. Keep chilled overnight in the fridge on a baking sheet.
- Remove the butter block from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll dough to a 12 by 16-inch rectangle.
- Place butter block in the center of the dough. Fold the dough over the butter block like an envelope. Using a rolling pin, press firmly onto the seams of the dough to seal. Roll dough out to a 12 by 16-inch rectangle.
- Turn dough 90 degrees and fold into thirds like a letter. Rotate dough 90 degrees and folded like a letter once again. Cover with plastic wrap and transfer to the fridge to rest and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Repeat the process of rolling the dough to a 12 by 16-inch rectangle, folding into thirds, turning dough 90 degrees, and folding into thirds 2 more times. Refrigerate for 1 hour in between each fold.
Assembly and Baking:
- Remove the laminated dough from the fridge and allow to rest for 10 minutes at room temperature.
- Meanwhile, brush a large 12-cup muffin tin generously with melted butter. Coat muffin cups with granulated sugar, tapping out any excess.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt. Set aside.
- Place on a floured work surface and roll dough to a 12 by 18-inch rectangle. Brush melted butter generously over the surface of the dough. Sprinkle 1 cup of the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the dough. Reserve remaining filling mixture and set aside.
- Starting at the long end, roll dough into a tight log. Slice into 12 equal pieces. Place rolls cut side up in prepared muffin pan. Cover and let rolls rise at room temperature for 1 hour until rolls are puffy and expanded.
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Uncover the rolls and bake for 25–30 minutes, until deep golden brown, rotating pan halfway through baking.
- Let buns cool in the pan for 10 minutes until cool enough to handle, then invert onto a wire rack. Lightly brush buns with remaining melted butter and toss in the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture. Serve warm.
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