For those of you who aren’t already convinced to try a batch of my banana jam, today I’m bringing out the big guns. This recipe brings together all the best parts of cinnamon rolls and nutty banana bread, all in one sticky breakfast bun package. These are equally at home as a component of an epic brunch party spread, or simply on their own with a pot of hot coffee or tea, on a leisurely Saturday morning just because you love whoever you live with. Even if you live by yourself – you still gotta show yourself some love!
And really, this is a recipe for showing yourself some love on both ends of the spectrum. The kind of love that recognizes when it’s time to treat yo self, and the kind that takes care to supply your body with real nourishing ingredients. You get to enjoy a delicate texture while still feeling good about getting your whole grains, courtesy of my favorite whole-wheat pastry flour. Toasted hazelnuts take it to the next level of Special Brunchiness, although you can easily substitute almonds, walnuts, pecans, or whatever else you like; either way, you get an abundance of healthy fats.
In my first attempt of modifying this recipe, I tried subbing my whole-wheat pastry flour 100% in place of all-purpose, and YEESH. What a disaster. The dough was sloppy, floppy, sticky, and impossible to work with. It was my worst kitchen fail in quite some time.
Because whole-grain flour contains wheat bran (the outer “husk” of the wheat grain), it has comparatively lower levels of gluten, displaced by the bran’s fiber. And beyond that, the fiber gets in the way between the existing gluten molecules, disrupting their ability to come together and make a doughy elastic structure.
I knew about these limitations, but I’ve had a good track record subbing whole-grain pastry flour in pancakes, muffins, even biscuits. So I went for it. I guess there’s only one way to find out that what might work well for simpler quickbreads doesn’t necessarily hold up to the structural demands of a yeasted dough. Isn’t learning grand? Anyway, for round two I adjusted the levels of liquid ingredients and compromised with the two flours 50/50, and it was a good balance.
These buns fall into the breakfast category of sweet-but-not-too-sweet. If I wanted to take them to the next level of sticky sweetness, I would whisk together a quick glaze of powdered sugar, milk, and another spoonful of the banana jam.
As you can see, I really wanted to fit all 16 of my buns into my 9-inch pan. Don’t be like me. When the buns don’t have ample room to expand, the texture suffers and you’ll be forced to bake longer to ensure the dense centers are cooked through. You’ll have better results putting 9 buns in a 8×8 pan, and the remaining 7 fit nicely into a 8 or 9-inch round cake or pie pan. You can even wrap one up and freeze it, unbaked, for future spontaneous brunching!