Demerara Sugar Buns

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¼-ounce envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ teaspoons)
  • ⅔ cup whole milk warmed
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 large eggs room temperature
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2¾ cups all-purpose flour plus more
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature, cut into 1-inch pieces, plus melted for brushing (about 4 tablespoons)
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar plus more
  • 5 dried juniper berries
  • ⅓ cup demerara sugar plus more

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Whisk yeast, milk, and maple syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer just to combine, then let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Whisk in eggs; add salt, whole wheat flour, 2¾ cups all-purpose flour, and 6 Tbsp. butter and mix on low speed with dough hook until a shaggy dough forms. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough comes together into a smooth ball and pulls away from the sides of bowl, 10–12 minutes.
  2. Place dough in a buttered large bowl and cover. Let sit in a warm spot until doubled in size, 1–1½ hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 13x9” baking dish and sprinkle with granulated sugar, tapping out excess. If using juniper berries, finely grind in a spice mill or using a mortar and pestle. Mix ground juniper (if using), ⅓ cup demerara sugar, and ⅓ cup granulated sugar in a small bowl.
  4. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 3 pieces. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping the other pieces covered in plastic wrap, roll out dough into about a 12”x8” rectangle. Sprinkle with one-third of sugar mixture and cut crosswise into 4 pieces (you should have four 8”x3” rectangles). Roll up each piece to make a long rope; squeeze ends gently and pinch along seam to seal. Tug rope to stretch so it’s about 10” long, then tie into a knot. You should end up with 12 buns.
  5. Arrange buns in prepared pan to make a 4x3 grid and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle with demerara sugar and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit until buns look puffed and lightly hold the imprint of a finger when gently pressed, 50–70 minutes. Bake until buns are golden brown and sugar is caramelized, 15–20 minutes. Turn out of baking dish onto a wire rack and let cool slightly.