Lemon-Glazed Lavender Raisin Buns
From Mollie Katzen's Sunligh Café
Preparation time: 15 to 20 minutes of intermittent work, plus
about 2 1/2 hours to rise and bake
Yield: 16 medium-sized buns
Sweet raisins, an intense
dose of lemon zest, and the otherworldly aromatic presence of
lavender make these buns a great reason to get out of bed in the
morning! The finishing touch is an exquisite lemon glaze, which,
although barely visible, gives a startling punch of additional
If you can't get lavender, substitute rosemary. You
can also use a combination of the two.
These buns freeze really well, and defrost very quickly (for
example, while you are commuting). Toasting is unnecessary and may
cause the raisins and the glaze to burn. So just toss a frozen bun
into a sandwich bag and bring it with you to work. By the time you
get there, it will be ready to enjoy, and you will thank yourself
- Remember to zest the lemons before juicing them.
- For a touch of texture, coarsely chop the lemon zest, rather
than grating it. The easiest way to do this is to shave off the
outermost peel with a vegetable peeler, then chop the shavings into
smaller pieces with a sharp knife.
- You can use fresh or dried lavender (and/or rosemary) leaves.
If using fresh, be sure to chop it really small.
Nonstick spray for the pan(s) and the dough
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 recipe Babka Dough (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons chopped lemon zest
1 1/2 tablespoons stripped and crumbled lavender leaves (OK to
include some blossoms for color)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Lightly spray two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans or a baking
tray–plus a clean, dry work surface–with nonstick
- Place the raisins and lemon juice in a small bowl, and heat
together in a microwave oven for about 40 seconds. Remove and set
- Spray your fist lightly with nonstick spray, punch down the
risen dough, and transfer it to the prepared work surface. Let the
dough rest for about five minutes, then without further handling or
kneading, gently stretch it into a rectangle approximately 10 X 16
inches. If the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little nonstick
spray to your hands. Use a rubber spatula to spread the dough with
softened butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge
- Sprinkle the buttered area with chopped lemon zest, crumbled
lavender, and the plumped raisins. Roll up the dough into a firm
log, and pinch the seam tightly closed.
- Cut the log into 16 equal pieces, and place them on end about 2
inches apart in the prepared pans–or on the tray.
- Cover the pans or tray loosely with a clean tea towel, and let
stand in a warm place for about 1 hour. The buns will increase in
bulk by about 50 to 75 per cent. During this time, preheat the oven
- Before baking the buns, push in any exposed raisins with a
chopstick. Then place the pans or tray in the center of the
preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the buns are lightly
browned on the edges and sound hollow when thumped. Transfer the
hot buns to a plate or a platter; wait 10 minutes before adding the
glaze. Prepare the glaze during this time.
- Sift the powdered sugar through a tea strainer into a small
bowl and stir in the lemon juice. Drizzle this onto each bun with a
small spoon–or brush it on with a pastry brush. It will be
thin and subtle–barely visible–but will coat the buns,
sinking in slightly. Wait another 10 minutes or so before
1/2 cup milk (plain soy
milk will also work)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup wrist-temperature water
1 1/4 teaspoons yeast (half a package)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
About 2 1/3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
(Enough to make a soft dough)
Nonstick spray for the bowl, the work surface, and your
- DO THIS AHEAD: Gradually heat the milk in a small
saucepan until it becomes very hot but is not yet boiling. Remove
the pan from the heat, and add cut in the butter in about 4 or 5
slices. Set aside to cool to wrist temperature, during which time
the butter will melt.
- Place the water in a medium-large bowl, sprinkle in the yeast,
and let it stand for about 5 minutes.
- When the milk mixture has cooled to wrist temperature (and no
warmer!), add it to the yeast, along with the sugar and salt. Beat
in the egg.
- Add the flour one cup at a time, beating after the first
addition with a large whisk, and after the second with a wooden
spoon. At some point you will have to graduate from the spoon to
using your hand. Add small amounts of flour to keep your hand from
sticking too badly, and m;ix until all the flour is incorporated,
and you have a soft dough. It's OK if it's slightly sticky.
- Lightly spray a clean work surface with nonstick spray. Turn
out the dough, and knead it just a few times, pushing it into
itself, so it comes together in a smooth ball . If it is too sticky
to handle, spray the palms of your hands with a little nonstick
spray. The goal is to keep the dough as soft as possible–even
a little wet!
- Clean out and dry the bowl (or use a second clean, dry bowl)
and coat the inside surface with nonstick spray. Place the dough in
the bowl, and spray the top surface with more nonstick spray. Cover
the bowl with a clean tea towel, and put it in a warm place to rise
until doubled in bulk.
- Punch down the dough, and proceed with filling and finishing.
(above). You can also refrigerate or freeze the dough at this
point, if you don't intend to fill and finish it right away. (Wrap
it in a sealed plastic bag.)