For its name alone, the Snickerdoodle is one of my favorite cookies. But there is more to this cookie than a cool, goofy name. Snickerdoodles have history. They are a cookie jar classic. Some say their roots can be traced back to Germany (to the “schneckennudeln,” or snail dumpling). Hmmmm. I prefer Snickerdoodle to snail dumpling. … Anyway, they are the first cookies I learned to bake in my mother’s kitchen, and they quickly became my go-to cookies (the ingredient list is short and simple, and the goods are always on hand).
Snickerdoodles are basically sugar cookies that take a tumble in cinnamon sugar before hitting the oven. I add nutmeg to the dough to further add to that homey, big-hug, old-fashioned sugar cookie taste.
I love butter. I love buttery brioche. I love buttery brioche dough rolled up with brown sugar, spices and even more butter. I love to smell it baking in the oven, the brioche buns nestled together to better soak up any sticky, caramel-like secretions.
1 tablespoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup warm water
2 cups buttermilk (I never seem to have buttermilk in the house when I need it; often I substitute regular milk with a shot of vinegar: in this case, 2 tablespoons vinegar to nearly 2 cups skim milk)
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 – 5 cups all-purpose flour
1/ 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
— gooey insides
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter (salted is fine)
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
— maple icing
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3-4 tablespoons pure Vermont maple syrup
1-2 tablespoons skim milk
Combine yeast with water and sugar. Leave to rest and do its thing for about 5 minutes (bubbles will rise to surface).
Mix buttermilk with vegetable oil and salt over low heat until warm. Add this mixture to large bowl.
Sift together all-purpose flour and baking soda. Set aside.
Add yeast mixture to buttermilk mixture. Stir.
Add 2 1/2 – 3 cups of flour mixture, beating on medium-high speed to combine. (You’ll want to switch to a dough hook eventually if you’re using a stand mixer.)
Add additional flour in batches until dough starts to form and pull away from sides of bowl.
Transfer dough to lightly floured surface and cover with bowl. Let it rest about 15 minutes.
Uncover and knead with dough hook for about 5 minutes if using stand mixer, up to 10 minutes if kneading by hand, until dough is satiny and springy.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 2 round cake tins or pie pans (or go the muffin tin route I discussed above).
Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Roll each into a rectangle.
Smear 1/4 cup softened butter all over each rectangle, then generously shower with brown sugar and spices.
Starting from the long side, roll up the dough rectangles jelly-roll style to form 2 logs. Slice each log into 9 buns.
Place 9 buns into each pan. It’s OK if they don’t fit snugly; they will grow.
Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.
While the buns bake, mix confectioners’ sugar with maple syrup and skim milk to make icing.
Generously ice buns as soon as you remove them from the oven.
Eat them, being sure to scoop up the goo in the bottom of the pan.