Cinnamon Buns

As I was preparing a menu for a Saturday morning brunch with friends, I thought to myself, “What’s a classic baked good that everybody loves to dig into?”  The Force must have been with me because as I was racking my brain, I saw an article that Carrie Fisher’s birthday had just passed, and what better way for an amateur baker to celebrate her life than to bake her iconic Star Wars hairstyle???

Like always, my King Arthur Flour Baking Companion had a great recipe, so I rolled up my sleeves and got to work!

Here’s the full recipe as taken from the K.A.F. Baking Companion:

Dough Ingredients:

  • 3 and 1/2 cups (14 and 3/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (1 and 1/4 ounces) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granular lecithin (optional, but helpful)
  • 2 tablespoons (5/8 ounce) nonfat dry milk
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 large egg, plus enough water to make 1 cup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) soft butter

Dough Ingredients

Filling Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) soft butter
  • 3/4 cup (5 and 1/4 ounces) sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup nuts, raisins, or chocolate chips

Filling ingredients.jpg

Icing Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons (1 and 1/2 ounces) heavy cream OR 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) confectioners’ sugar

Icing ingredients.jpg

For the dough:

Mix and knead together all the dough ingredients – by hand or by mixer – to form a soft, smooth dough.  Place it in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours; it should almost double in size.

To assemble: Turn out the dough onto a lightly greased work surface and roll it into a rectangle measuring about 11×20 inches.  Spread a thin layer of soft butter over the dough, leaving about 1 inch uncovered on the short side nearest you.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar and nuts, raisins, or chips of your choice.  Starting with the long edge covered with the filling, roll the dough into a log.  Use a serrated knife to gently saw the log in half, then cut each side of the log into six equal pieces.  Cover the buns and let them rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 and 1/4 hours, until they’re quite puffy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, until they’re golden brown.  Remove from the oven and let them cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn them out of the pan and let them cool to just slightly warm before frosting.

To make the icing:

Mix the heavy cream and confectioners’ sugar to make a creamy glaze; use water for a thinner glaze.  Spread the icing on the buns.

Alright- while those are pretty simple instructions, I’m going to now show you step-by-step how I made my cinnamon buns.

First, I measured out all of the ingredients and set them aside (minus the lecithin, as it was optional and I didn’t have any).

When the recipe called for “1 large egg plus enough water to make 1 cup,” I just cracked an egg into my measuring cup, then filled it with lukewarm water until it reached the “1 Cup” line.

Next, I took all the dough ingredients and dumped them into the bowl of my stand mixer and attached my bread hook. I set the mixer to the lowest setting and let it mix the ingredients until I had a nice, smooth dough ball.  This took me about five minutes.

Dough in mixer

Once the dough was nice and smooth, I took it out of the mixing bowl, cleaned the bowl out, sprayed it with non-stick baking spray, rolled the dough into a nice sphere, and dropped it back into the greased bowl.

Dough ball

I then moved the bowl to the back of my oven range, covered it with a clean dish towel, and let it sit for an hour.

Learning tip: In my house, I have an oven/range combination, and I found that if I set the oven to the lowest temperature setting (mine is 170 degrees Fahrenheit), then turn it off, it makes the range nice and warm towards the back.  For this recipe, that’s where I let the dough sit to rise.

Covered dough.jpg

After the hour mark, my dough had doubled in size, so I then took a silicon baking mat (the one I have is great, it’s got measured circles for pies, and has a ruler running up both the horizontal and vertical edges), placed it on my counter top work space, and turned the dough out onto it.  I then whipped out my rolling pin and started to roll the dough.

Risen dough turned out.jpg

I rolled the dough into a nice 11×20 inch rectangle, washed the bits of dough stuck to my fingers off, then picked up the 1/4 cup of softened butter.  You’re either going to love this next part or hate it – use your hands to spread the butter over the surface of the rolled dough.  It’s messy, but I think it’s kind of fun!

Butter smearing

Once it’s nice and buttered, it’ll look something like this:

Buttered dough

Next step is to sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture onto the buttered dough.

Sprinkling sugar.jpg

It’ll end up coming out like this:

Sugar spread

Now that the cinnamon sugar has been spread, it’s time to add the nuts, raisins or chocolate/peanutbutter/whatever you want chips.  For this recipe, I had a bag of chopped walnuts at hand, so I sprinkled those on.

Sprinkling walnuts.jpg

My next step was to grease a 9×13 inch glass Pyrex pan with non-stick baking spray.  Now that that was ready, it was time to roll!  Starting with the long end farthest from me, I rolled it towards me.

As the directions said in the book, don’t roll the dough too tight or the cinnamon rolls will pop up in the middle.

Rolling rolls

Once I had a nice log formed, I took a serrated knife and cut the log in half.  Then I cut the halves into quarters, then cut the quarters into thirds.  Here’s a picture guide to make it more clear:

Cut in halfQuarter itInto 12s

Next, I dropped the rolls into the greased Pyrex.  Here’s how they looked:

In pan.jpg

As you can see in the picture above, some of the cinnamon sugar spilled out of the bottom of the rolls on the left.  While it doesn’t look as pretty, don’t worry about it if it happens to you too – it’ll bake just fine and the rolls will expand into some of it.

I then took the pan, placed it on the back of the warmed range again, and let them rise for about an hour.  During the last 15 minutes of that hour, I preheated my oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  I then popped the rolls into the oven on the middle rack and let them bake for twenty-three minutes (the recipe calls for 20-25 minutes).

When the rolls came out of the oven, I placed the pan on a wire cooling rack.  Here’s how they looked:

Baked rolls.jpg

While the rolls were cooling, I mixed the powdered sugar with the water (the recipe called for either heavy cream or water, and I decided to go for a thinner glaze, so I used water) and poured it into a small plastic baggie.  Once the buns had cooled to just warm, I was ready to put on the icing. I took a pair of scissors, cut a small corner off of the baggie, and drizzled the icing over the buns.

Icing the buns

The recipe called for removing the buns from the pan, but I kind of overlooked that step.  Fortunately for me, the cinnamon buns still came out great!

Here’s the final product:


If you tried the recipe out, let me know how it went for you.  I’d love to hear any tips, tricks, or suggestions…and as always, happy baking!