By Dave Koob
Throughout mankind’s existence, man has often sought to combine, meats, sweets and booze into a single dish that he can start his day with. This dish meets all of those requirements, and due to their size, will likely put you into an immediate nap or state of euphoria. Might be best not to eat one of these before operating heavy machinery.
For this recipe, you’ll need a stand mixer, a couple of 10″ cast iron pans, and a baking sheet with cooling rack. As always, if you find yourself lacking the necessary kitchen equipment, we advise getting married and registering for all of it.
Bourbon Bacon Filling
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 pound thick cut bacon
2 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons of softened (not melted) butter
3/4 cup whole milk, warmed to 110 degrees (to activate the yeast)
1 packet (2 1/4 teaspoons) instant or rapid-rise yeast
3 large eggs, room temperature
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) – chilled bacon fat
4 tablespoons softened butter, divided
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Preparing the bacon for the filling
1. Lay out your bacon on the cooling rack nested inside the baking sheet. If you want to save on cleanup, place some parchment paper or a silicone liner on the baking sheet before placing the cooling rack on.
2. Work 1/2 cup of the brown sugar on to the bacon.
3. Place the bacon in a cool oven, then turn the oven to 250° F and bake for 20-25 minutes. You want to take it out when the bacon is still pretty floppy, so the brown sugar slowly melts and incorporates into the bacon.
4. After the bacon has cooked – pour off the rendered bacon fat and brown sugar bits and set aside for the filling.
5. Cut the bacon lengthwise and then chop into half inch pieces.
6. Turn off your oven. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP!
Preparing the Dough
1. Whisk together the milk and yeast until the yeast dissolves – this helps activate the yeast.
2. Whisk in the eggs to the yeast/milk mixture.
3. In your stand mixer, set to low speed, mix the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined.
4. Once the dry ingredients are combined, add the milk/egg mixture until the dough forms a single mass, about 60-90 seconds.
5. Increase the speed to medium and slowly add the 8 tablespoons of bacon fat and then the butter, mixing until the dough is smooth and comes away from the bowl.
6. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and knead a few times and roll into a smooth round ball.
7. Place your perfect dough ball into a greased bowl and place into your warm (but off – remember that part?) oven until the ball doubles in size. It should take about 2 hours.
Meanwhile, Let’s Finish the Filling
1. While your dough ball is doubling in size, combine the remaining brown sugar (1 1/2 cups), bourbon, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl.
2. Measure out 4 tablespoons of the bacon fat you had left over from making your brown sugar bacon – if you’ve got less than 4 tablespoons, use butter to make up the difference.
3. Mash the mixture together until it resembles wet sand.
Rolling it out and Rolling it up
1. When your dough has doubled in size – roll it out onto your work surface in an approximately 18” square (if it’s a little longer, you’ll be fine – but you’ll want a width of 18” and a minimum length of 18”)
2. Evenly distribute your brown sugar bourbon mixture across the dough, leaving about half an inch at the furthest end so you can properly pinch your rolls closed
3. Add your chopped bacon on top of the brown sugar. Its sticky and clumpy, so just do your best to evenly distribute the chunks.
4. Starting with the end closest to you, work from one side and begin tightly rolling up. Once you’ve got once side started, evenly roll the remaining width of the dough. Keep the roll nice and tight and attempt to keep the ends square as to not have any overly deformed rolls.
5. Once you’ve got everything rolled up, use the 1/2″ space on the end of the roll to pinch a seam into the roll to keep everything closed up.
6. Cut your Bacon Bourbon Cinnamon Bun log into half, and then cut those halves into half, and those halves into half (If you did your math right, you should have 8 roughly equal pieces).
7. Place 4 buns into a greased cast iron skillet with their seams facing toward the center, and let the pan sit in a warm place until the buns double in size (about an hour).
8. Once the buns have doubled, bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 35 to 40 minutes until the buns are beautifully browned and the filling is melted.
The Icing on the Cake (or in This Case, Buns)
1. Whisk the cream cheese, milk, vanilla, bourbon, and confectioners’ sugar together in a bowl until smooth. You want to make sure there are no clumps of confectioners’ sugar, or you’ll look like an amateur here.
2. Once your bourbon glaze is silky smooth plaster it all over your hot buns. Alternately, place it into a piping bag and make Xs on your buns and you will have made manly hot cross buns.