Monday, March 14, 2011

Cinnamon buns 101

I can hear you all now, "Hey! This isn't a recipe blog!" And you're right, I usually post about things that Rachel says, or trips to the ER, or bacteria who use Facebook.

Some of you have been lucky enough to have had me make these for you, and some of you were offered demonstrations but were too hung over to get up and watch (I'm not naming names, but you know who you are :-)), and I've emailed the recipe to some of you, but I've never explained how to make cinnamon buns in excruciating detail before.

So. Do you want to be a hero to your family? Do you want to have something amazing up your sleeve to coerce your children to clean their rooms? Do you want to seduce Daniel Craig that special someone by whipping up a batch of really divine cinnamon buns? Do you want to win a first-place ribbon at the Carp Fair?

Well look no further. I'll walk you through it. All you need is a bread machine and the willingness to be worshipped like a goddess. (Or god, I'm all about equal opportunity.) Here's how you do it (recipe follows):

First of all, you put the ingredients in the bread machine: liquids first, then dry ingredients, finishing with the yeast and salt. One thing I learned about getting dough right in a breadmaker, whether it's for cinnamon buns or bread, is measuring the flour accurately. You have to stir the bread flour (not all-purpose flour) in the bag with a spoon to lighten it a bit, then spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level it off with a knife. Otherwise, if you just scoop it out and bang the measuring cup to settle the flour, you'll be using too much and have to add more water when it's kneading. Oh, and always use bread flour and bread machine yeast. It makes a difference.

Anyway, add the ingredients and set it to the dough cycle. When it's done, it will be silky and elastic and look like this:

Roll it out into a rectangle. Use a fair amount of flour. (I took these photos during different cinnamon-bun-making events, so that's why you might notice the disappearing pastry mat. Funny story, I stored it behind the toaster oven and accidentally melted it one day when making a pizza.)

Now take a spatula and spread the softened butter all over the rolled-out dough, leaving one long edge without butter (for sealing it up):

Now sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture on top of the butter:

If you have helpers, this goes really quickly. Just make sure they wash their hands.

Once the brown sugar/cinnamon has been evenly spread, roll up along the long edge, starting with the edge that you *didn't* leave free of butter and sugar:

Pinch it shut along the edge that you left free of butter and sugar:

Roll it over until the seam is on the bottom:

Now take a big, sharp knife, and cut the roll in half:

And then cut each half in half:

Now, cut each quarter into three rolls, giving you a dozen rolls. Isn't math great?

Place them on a lightly greased cookie sheet. They'll be small and won't touch each other:

Now spray some plastic wrap with a little spray oil and cover the cookie sheet. Child head is optional. I used to use a tea towel, but I got tired of having butter-stained tea towels. But you can use one if you want.

Leave in a warm place to rise, about 30-40 minutes. Now they'll be touching each other:

Now into a preheated oven and bake them. I once went through all the steps up until this point and was too impatient to wait until the little light on the oven went off, indicating that the oven had hit the right temp, and I burned the tops of the rolls. It was horrible. I cried. And then I ate them anyway. They're *that* good. So be sure the oven is ready and the top element isn't still on trying to heat up the oven. Mmmmmmm. Don't they look GREAT?:

Now make the icing. Not any icing. CREAM CHEESE ICING. If ever an icing deserved all caps, it's CREAM CHEESE ICING. Now, unless you're really a pig a sweet-toothed person, half of the icing recipe is enough for a dozen cinnamon buns:

Now spread a little or a lot of icing onto a warm roll, inhale the cinnamon-vanilla fragrance, and wallow in a piece of home-made heaven.

Five out of five sleepover party guests think these are the best cinnamon buns ever.

Cinnamon Rolls for the bread maker

12 servings

It takes about 2 1/2 hours to make a batch of rolls with my bread machine: dough cycle is 1 1/2 hours, 10 minutes to roll out dough and put filling on it and cut into rolls, 35 - 40 minute for rising, and 12 - 15 minutes to bake.

1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup water (warm)
1 cup milk (room temp or just nuke for a minute if it's right out of the fridge)
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons vanilla instant pudding mix (not the diet kind with artificial sweetener, and not the kind you have to cook)
4 cups bread flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

4 ounces cream cheese, softened (1/2 a regular pkg)
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (icing sugar)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons milk

Rolls : Place ingredients in the machine following manufacturer's instructions and set for dough cycle. Wet ingredients first, then flour, sugar and pudding mix. Make 2 little wells in the flour with your finger or a spoon and put the salt in one and the yeast in the other. Start the dough cycle. After completion of cycle, remove from machine and roll out to 17x10-inch rectangle.

Filling: Mix together brown sugar and cinnamon. Spread softened butter over dough and sprinkle brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over the top. Roll tightly from long end, pinching edges closed when finished. Slice into sizes of your choice (I usually get 12 rolls from this). Place on greased cookie sheet and let rise until doubled in size . Cover with a slightly damp tea towel and put somewhere warm and not drafty. (I usually turn the oven on to 150F, let it warm up, then turn the oven off and put the pan in there to rise with the oven door open about 1/4 of the way.) Rising should take about 35 to 40 minutes.

Bake at 350°F for 12 -18 minutes, until light golden- DO NOT OVERBAKE! <- Keep an eye on them because mine were done in 12 mins, but my oven runs hot . You want them not too hard, but soft and yummy. Golden on the top, but whitish where they touch each other.

Frosting: Mix together and spread over warm rolls. You'll need a spatula to get them out of the pan -- some of the butter and sugar filling leaks down and caramelizes on the bottom of the rolls and they sometimes stick to the pan even though you greased it. Enjoy!


  1. Your blog posts are so much more informative than mine :)
    Gonna try these next weekend, thanks!


  2. Here's how I make cinnamon buns:

    1. Pack car.
    2. Drive from Virginia to Canada.
    3. Look sad and pathetic until a nice hockey fan makes cinnamon buns.
    4. Enjoy.

  3. Meanie - Let me know how they turn out!

    Jen - Hey, looks like you'll get to try out your recipe this summer! (They are so on the menu.)

  4. I think you need to make some for me.


  5. Jazz, come to Ottawa again. I'm sure cinnamon buns would go with wine and cheese.

  6. I think that 3 out of 3 Alkerton siblings would also agree that these are the best cinnamon buns in existence. I suggest serving with a fresh cup of coffee or tea, and perhaps a chewy ginger cookie if your guests aren't too full :P

  7. Yum, looks good to me!

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  9. I guess this means that I will have to make a trip back out to William`s kitchen equipment and get you another pastry mat. It will cost you not one but TWO lots of cinnamon buns next time I come to stay. :o))

  10. Becca - yes, I believe they do. I like mine best with coffee and friends.

    Sarah - they're really yummy.

    Jilly - I only melted part of it, but it won't lie flat anymore :(

  11. These look delicious, but they also look like a lot of work. Luckily I don't have a bread machine so I don't have to make them!

  12. Nice article, thanks for the information.

  13. I was slavering over the picture of these and was full of plans to make them right up until I saw the whole breadmaker bit. Given that I don't have one a) can I still be allowed to make them and b) wil you promise not to tell anyone?

  14. Finola - They aren't really a lot of work. And they're worth it!

    Rental Elf - Um, thanks.

    Trash - a) I'm sure that if you find a make-by-hand recipe for cinnamon buns to use for the kneading/rising directions, but use my recipe's ingredients (but probably not bread machine yeast), it should work. So go ahead! I've only ever made them in the breadmaker.
    b) I won't tell anyone, promise.

  15. I am going to make these on Thanksgiving morning and I hope for one brief shining moment I am my family's hero. It's been a while since I held that position! Yum.

  16. OH GOSH that looks incredible :) And, well, mine is not a recipe blog either, but I throw recipes in too, why not! I am addicted to cinnamon indeed!

  17. Mrs. G. - Good luck achieving hero status. I'm cheering you on.

    Gary - Yep, it's good to shake things up now and then. And who can resist cinnamon???