Olive oil + a great make-ahead method for an easy, healthy treat!
I love to bake and serve lightly sweetened treats for breakfasts, brunches or mid-morning coffee parties but lately it seems more and more of my guests are requesting dairy-free goodies. For some, it’s due to lactose intolerance, while others are simply trying to replace butter in their diets with heart-healthier options like extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). I’m very familiar with using olive oil for savoury baking like focaccia or pizza dough but wondered how it would stand up in a sweet bread. The good news: it performed like a champion. In this case, I used award-winning Oleiva Traditional EVOO in a brioche-style dough to make cinnamon buns that turned out to be just as light and delicious as I had hoped.
Oleiva is a delightfully versatile extra virgin olive oil from Tunisia, which I recently learned is now one of the world’s largest EVOO producers, right up there with Spain and Italy. In fact, Tunisia has been producing olive oil since the time of the Romans, millennia ago. In the past few years, many Tunisian producers have started focusing on higher-end products for the export market after years of being forced to export their EVOO in bulk; this exported oil was subsequently repackaged to masquerade as oil from other well-known bottling companies in surrounding Mediterranean countries. I’m glad that practice is changing because like all the products I work with in my kitchen, I really want to know where my olive oil comes from. In the case of Oleiva, it’s coming direct to discerning consumers from the Slama family who produce their traditional-style extra virgin olive oil with hand-picked olives, cold pressed within just a few hours after harvesting to preserve their purity and exceptional taste.
I wasn’t sure what a butterless brioche dough would turn out like in terms of both texture and flavour but I was very pleasantly surprised. This healthier version of a favourite sweet treat did not disappoint in any way, with the warm notes of cinnamon and cardamom predominating. With some commercial cinnamon buns clocking in at almost 900 calories, I was thrilled that one of these beauties is less than 300 calories! I even found the buns to be just as tasty the next day, leaving me to wonder if perhaps the olive oil keeps them from drying out. One of the things I love most about this recipe is that you can assemble it the day before baking, make if the perfect make-ahead morning treat.
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (140mL) warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) instant dried yeast
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt
- 2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) Oleiva Traditional or any other good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 2 – 3 tablespoons (30 – 45 mL) additional flour for kneading
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly ground cardamom (optional but delicious)
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Oleiva Traditional or any other good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) water
- 1/4 cup (60 mL) confectioners’ (icing) sugar
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) ground cinnamon
- Place the yeast, sugar and water in a large bowl (use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, if you have one) and stir gently. Let sit 5 minutes until yeast is frothy. Add the egg, salt, flour and olive oil and stir until the mixture comes together to form a shaggy dough.
- If using a stand mixer, knead the dough for 5 minutes, adding additional flour a teaspoon at a time to keep dough from sticking to bowl, to a maximum of 3 tablespoons.
- If making dough by hand, transfer the mixture to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 5 – 10 minutes until dough is smooth, adding up to 3 tablespoons of additional flour, one teaspoon at a time.
- Place the dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
- While dough rises, in a small bowl make the filling by combining the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cardamom, nuts (if using), olive oil and maple syrup. Stir to blend well and set aside.
- Once dough has risen, punch it down then remove from bowl. On a lightly floured surface, pat the dough out to form a 1/2 inch (2.5 cm) thick rectangle approximately 8 x 12 inches in size (20 x 30 cm).
- Spread the filling mixture evenly over the dough, leaving a 1 inch (2.5 cm) gap on one of the long sides.
- Roll the dough up starting from the long side that has filling right to the edge, forming a cylinder shape.
- Trim off the ends to even up the cylinder then cut into eight pieces of equal width.
- Lightly grease an 8 inch round springform pan with olive oil and line the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the pan. Place the eight pieces of dough in the pan, cut side up, with one in the centre and the others around it (see right hand image in collage above).
- Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise for 50 minutes OR place in the refrigerator for 2 to 18 hours; buns will double in size (see centre image above).
- Preheat oven to 350F, with a rack placed in the middle of the oven and a baking sheet or pizza pan placed on the rack below to catch drips. If shaped buns have been in the refrigerator, remove them to the counter while oven heats up.
- Remove plastic wrap from the springform pan and place pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 22 – 24 minutes. The best way to be sure the buns are cooked through is to use an instant-read digital thermometer to measure the temperature of the dough (not the sugary filling) in the middle of the pan. It should be 190F when fully cooked.
- While buns are baking, combine the maple syrup, water, powdered sugar and cinnamon in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Remove baked buns from the oven and drizzle glaze over top immediately. Let cool at least 5 minutes in the pan before serving.
Makes 8 large buns; mixture can easily be doubled and divided among two pans.
Disclaimer: I received compensation to test Oleiva extra virgin olive oil but my opinions, as always, are entirely my own.