Cinnamon buns were a staple in my house while I was growing up. They are one of my sister’s favorite desserts and we often had them instead of a cake around her birthday. But to be honest, not one of my favorite desserts. If I’m going to eat a cinnamon bun, it has to be gooey and have more sugar than cinnamon. If it’s crusty or hard at all, I’m not very interested.
When I moved out of my parents’ house (and out of my small town), I discovered the joys of Cinnzeo. Fresh, warm, gooey cinnamon buns that I don’t have to make myself? Yes, please! Still not my most favorite dessert (at West Edmonton Mall, I’d choose a crepe or frozen yogurt first), but still so delicious. Because I was so close to buying good cinnamon buns, I never learned how to make them.
But then I moved back to my hometown. No longer were cinnamon buns with extra cream cheese frosting only five minutes away. Nope, now they were a full hour away and I had to lug along a couple of kids. So Cinnzeo was out of the picture.
A couple of months ago, I decided to try my hand at cinnamon buns and it was a disaster. They were probably the grossest things I have ever baked. They didn’t rise properly and I hadn’t practiced with my new oven enough to know that its temperature is a little low so they were severely under baked. It was awful. Even my husband, who chokes down whatever I make without so much as a peep, couldn’t stomach them.
But yesterday I decided to try again. And this time it was delicious!
The recipe I used this time had a full five more steps than the previous one I used and I’m going to say that is why my last recipe failed. It had nothing to do with my inexperience or impatience. Nothing at all. Anyways, the recipe I made was inspired by this recipe, though I tweaked it a bit to suit my needs.
Anyways, if you are interested in doing a whole freaking afternoon of baking then give these delicious, gooey, not-at-all-crusty cinnamon buns a try!
Makes: 18 buns Time: 2.5 – 3 hours (ugh, I know right?)
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1/3 cup cold water
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup white sugar (turbinado sugar or “sugar in the raw” is best, but white will do)
- 2 tbsp instant yeast
- 5 1/2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp margarine, melted
- 2 cups brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
Put milk and salt into a small saucepan and turn the heat on medium, stirring often to prevent film from forming on top of the milk. Once the milk has started to steam and bubbles have started to form on the sides of the pot, remove the milk from heat. Add margarine and stir until it melts. Then add the cold water. Set aside. This is called scalding the milk and is used to intensify flavors and enhance the fluffiness of the yeast-based baking.
In a stand mixer, blend sugar and eggs with the paddle attachment. Slowly add the warm milk mixture while the mixer is on (to prevent the warmth from cooking the eggs). Mix the yeast with 2 cups of flour and add it to the liquids. Mix well. Replace the paddle with the hook attachment and add the remainder of the flour one cup at a time. Once mixed, knead the dough on a floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic-y. Roll into a ball and put into a large bowl.
Now it’s time to let the dough rise. If it’s a warm summer day, leave the dough out in a sunlight spot to stay warm (look for a sunbeam that a cat would think ideal). If you’re like me and baking to escape from the cold misery of the outdoors, you’re going to need to use your oven. Preheat your oven for 3-5 minutes and then turn it off. The residual warmth with be all that the yeast needs to rise. Where ever you put it, cover your dough with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 60-90 minutes. You want it to double in size.
Divide your dough in half on a floured surface and roll each half out until they resemble rectangles. Now it’s time to add the filling. Put half the melted butter on each rectangle and then literally cover it in brown sugar. A cup per side is only a suggestion. Be free with this, my beautiful butterflies. Want to add a couple of mini marshmallows? You do you. But I swear, if you tarnish these cinnamon buns that are too pure for this earth with raisins, I will delete you off Facebook. Now add your cinnamon. I’m only marginally a fan of cinnamon since my husband put it in everything (cinnamon mashed potatoes, anyone?) so I used it pretty sparingly.
Once your dough is covered in whatever filling you wish, roll it up. For those of you who use baking terms, roll it like a jelly roll. For my fellow millennials, roll it like a fruit roll-up. Cut it with a serrated knife and place it into a well greased pan. I made my slices a little thick and came out with only 16 rolls so I used a 9″ x 13″ pan and an 8″ cake pan for my beauties. Also, don’t use glass! It takes too long to cook and the buns will brown too much.
Now you have to let them rise once again. I just left them on my counter this time cause I was very unimpressed with how long it took to get a single freaking cinnamon bun. Leave them for 30 minutes this time. While you wait, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once they’ve risen, stick them in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Once they’re done baking, frost those suckers while they’re warm. That way the frosting melts and gets in all the spaces. I used a classic American buttercream, but a cream cheese frosting or even royal icing would do just fine.
There you have it! Cinnamon buns that are not at all fast and only kind of easy, but actually good enough that I am eating more than one. And my husband has eaten one at each meal since I made them last night. Make a batch if you have a whole afternoon to burn and let me know how it goes!