Everyone can recognize the captivating smell of cinnamon buns. Everytime you’re passing through the mall or airport, the friendly smell sneaks up on you and gives your nose the most welcoming hug ever. Maybe it’s just my lack of self-control, but I’m a sucker for anything cinnamon-sugar, and in my opinion these are the second most American dessert, next to apple pie of course. But these heavenly, buttery rolls knock Cinnabon and Pillsbury out of the park! Without a doubt one of the best recipes I’ve added to my collection in a while.
Don’t be intimidated by the recipe either. These are surprisingly easy to make, just a bit time-consuming. The hardest part about this recipe is continuing to wait for the dough to rise because you just want to eat it raw. I promise you this though, it is well worth it. Having the dough rise after every kneading session makes for a very light and fluffy roll that will just melt in your mouth. Keep this recipe for the books, because when the snow starts to fall and you’re barricaded in your house, these will be killer with a hot cup of cocoa.
Yields: 12 Buns
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2+1/4 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1+1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2+3/4 all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 tsp fine salt
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 3/4 cup (1+1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for coating pan
- 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- In a medium saucepan, combine water and milk over low heat until it is about 100°F (but no more than 110°F). Remove from heat and sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar over the top and set aside without stirring, until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk the butter, egg yolk and vanilla into the yeast mixture.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt and nutmeg. Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon to make a thick and slightly sticky dough. Turn dough onto a floured work surface and knead until soft and elastic, about 6 minutes. Shape into a ball. (Just as a side note, keep the flour readily available, the dough gets very sticky during this process).
- Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put dough in the buttered bowl, turning to coat lightly with butter. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and note the time. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour 15 minutes.
- Turn dough out of bowl and knead briefly to release excess air; reform into a ball and return to the bowl. Lightly butter a large piece of plastic wrap and lay over the dough. Cover the entire bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.
- To fill and form the rolls: Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Whisk the sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Turn prepared dough onto a floured work surface and press, then roll into 10-by-18-inch rectangle, with the long edge facing you.
- Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving about a 1-inch border on the side opposite you. Evenly scatter the cinnamon-sugar over the butter. Start from the long side facing you, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder. Lightly brush clean 1-inch edge opposite you with water. Press the open long edge to the dough to seal the cylinder.
- Cut the rolls, about 1.5 inches from the end to make 12 rolls. This can be done by slipping a long taut piece of string or dental floss under the roll. Lift and cross the string ends over the roll, then pull the ends tightly in opposite directions.
- Place the rolls in the prepared pan, leaving 1 inch of space between them. Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until rolls double in size, about 1 hour 10 minutes.
- Position the rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F.
- Bake buns until golden brown and the tops of the buns spring back when pressed lightly, about 20-30 minutes (be sure to check on buns continuously within the last 10 minutes of baking. They can become overdone quickly). Cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
- To make the glaze: sift the confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the condensed milk, butter, and lemon juice to make a smooth, slightly loose icing. Add the vanilla and cinnamon. Drizzle the icing over warm buns and serve.
These may be refrigerated or frozen after forming. If refrigerated overnight, allow buns to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes, then proof fully (until doubled in size) before baking, about 2 hours. If frozen, allow buns to come to room temperature, about 1 hour, and then proof fully (until doubled in size) before baking, about 2 hours.
Storage: Through the buns are best eaten on the day they are baked, they will keep, covered, for a day or two. They freeze well.