Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cinnamon Buns

When I was a child, my Mom used to bake a lot. I think it was because we grew up in a small town and the nearest grocery store was 15 minutes down a highway, or that it was just a cheaper way to feed three kids. Either way, homemade buns and cinnamon buns were something that Mom made often. We'd race up the driveway after getting off the bus and leap up the stairs two by two, hoping to get a warm mouthful of bread.

Honestly, there's really little else that is better than a warm mouthful of bread.

Cinnamon buns are, truthfully, not that hard to make. They do take a little practice like most breads, but I think you can do this. When I got the urge to bake bread this weekend, Kevin practically did a dance in my kitchen.

"You haven't made cinnamon buns in YEARS!" he cried. "At least not since I was 14 or something." He was right, too. I had written about cinnamon buns the last time I baked them, back in 2010. OY.

This recipe makes about one dozen large cinnamon buns. You could make them a little smaller and get about 16-18, too. Sometimes I double the dough and also make about 16-18 plain dinner rolls to put in the freezer.

Makes 12-18 cinnamon buns



1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, room temperature
4-5 cups flour
2 1/4 tsp instant rise yeast


1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp cinnamon


1 tbsp vanilla
4 tbsp whipping cream
1 cup icing sugar


1. Stir together 3 cups of the flour and yeast in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. In a medium sized pot, stir together the milk, sugar, and salt. Warm over medium low heat until steaming, then remove from the heat and set aside. Stir in the melted butter. Crack the egg into a medium sized bowl and whisk it.

3. Cool the milk mixture to about 130 F. Add about a tbsp to the egg, whisking well. You want to temper the egg so that you can add it to the warm mixture without cooking it and ending up with scrambled egg. Add the hot milk, little by little, whisking as you go, until it's all incorporated.

Check the temperature of your milk mixture now. All that whisking and adding an egg probably cooled it. You still want it fairly warm (around 125 F) before you add it to the yeast and flour. If it's not warm enough, pour it back into the pot you heated the milk in and warm it a bit over low heat, stirring. Don't let it boil or get too hot!

4. Stir the milk into the flour and yeast mixture. It will form a pretty sticky dough. Add more flour until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you are using a stand mixer, this is quite easy-just get your mixer going with the dough hook and let it run for a few minutes to knead the dough. If you don't have a mixer, once you have a dough turn it out onto a floured counter and knead for about 5 minutes or so.

5. Slather a large bowl with butter and place the dough inside it. Cover with a clean tea towel and sit it in a warm place for 90 minutes, or until it's doubled in size.

6. In a medium bowl, mix filling ingredients together. Set aside.

7. Dump the risen dough out onto the counter and knead it a bit, or punch it down to get rid of the excess air. Using your hands and a rolling pin, roll the dough out into an 18in x 12 inch rectangle. Slather it with the sugar cinnamon butter. It won't seem like a lot, but you don't need a lot. Make sure to leave an inch border along one long edge so it will seal.

8. Roll up the dough tightly into a log, starting at the longest side, and pinching the dough together when you get to the end. Brush the log lightly with butter. Slice into 12-14 pieces for large cinnamon buns, 16-18 for smaller. Set them cut side up on a lightly oiled, rimmed baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Set the pan aside with a clean tea towel over top for about 60 minutes, while they rise and double in size.

9. Pre-heat oven to 350 F. Bake the cinnamon buns for about 25-30 minutes or until they lightly browned and bubbly. The filling will seep out and bubble on to the pan. Remove the buns from the pan so that they don't stick and set them on a wire rack to cool. Be careful not to burn yourself on the sugary mixture!

10. When the rolls have cooled so that you can touch them, whisk the glaze ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and drizzle over top.

Try not to devour them all at once!
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