One fine winter morning, I decided I would spend my day lazing about the house reading Northanger Abbey while the smell of baking cinnamon buns wafted through the living room. Sadly (or not so sadly, in the end) I did not have any pre-fab cinnamon buns in a cardboard tube lying around, so I had to make a choice – make cinnamon buns from scratch, or put up with imitation cinnamon bun scent from my favorite Yankee Candle. I opted for the former, and boy am I glad – these were the most amazing cinnamon buns I’ve ever had. I found this recipe initially in my Food Network Magazine several months ago and had stuck a post-it on it reminding myself to come back and try it out. It is supposed to be an imitation of some national cinnamon bun store’s product, but frankly there is nothing like a handmade cinnamon bun coming out of ones’ own oven – far and away better than any commercially available roll. I changed a few things out of necessity (not having whole milk or cream on hand, I used skim milk, and also reduced the butter in the filling, as I simply couldn’t figure out how to get a whopping 12 tablespoons of butter onto a 12×14 rectangle of dough) and they came out as rich and ooey-gooey as you could want. Try them, you will not regret it.
Best Cinnamon Buns Ever
For the Dough:
Warm the milk in the microwave for 45-60 seconds until it reaches approximately 100 degrees F. Add the yeast and 1/4 teaspoon sugar (do not stir!) and let sit until foamy, or about 5 minutes. In the meantime, whisk together the flour, the remainder of the sugar, the salt and nutmeg in the bowl of your stand mixer. (or a regular bowl if you are without a stand-mixer – just remember to eat your wheaties if you’re mixing this by hand, the dough gets very thick!) To the foamy yeast mixture, whisk in the melted butter, the egg yolk, and the vanilla. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients, and pour in the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed on your stand mixer with the dough hook (or arm mixer) until the dough appears very wet and sticky. Then turn up the speed to medium and let knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough gathers around the hook. You may need to add a little extra flour (I did – probably about 3 tablespoons) to get the dough to this point. Take the dough out of the mixing bowl and form a ball with it. Before putting the dough back in the bowl, coat your mixing bowl with butter. Put the dough back in the bowl and roll the ball around so it is coated in butter. Cover with saran wrap and let rise for 1 hr, or until doubled in size.
For the filling:
Mix the cinnamon and sugar together before rolling out the dough. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Flour the top of the dough so it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin! Roll the dough out into an approximately 12×14 inch rectangle (I had an oddly shaped ellipse), with the long side facing you. Spread the butter all over the dough except for about 1/2 an inch on the far side of the dough - the original recipe called for 12 tablespoons of butter, but my dough was well covered with only 4-6 tablespoons. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mix over the dough sparing the 1/2 inch bare edge. Coat this edge with water. Roll the dough away from you forming a tight roll. Slice into 1 1/2 inch thick slices using a serrated bread knife with very little pressure so as to not squish the roll! Place the slices into the baking dish, cut side down, with space in between as they will expand! Let rise for 20-30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown.
For the glaze:
Sift the sugar into a bowl and whisk in the wet ingredients until smooth. Pour over buns after they have cooled in the pan for 15 minutes or so. (If you can wait 15 minutes for the buns to cool in the pan by all means go ahead – my husband and I couldn’t, so we just poured the glaze right on straight out of the oven. This made the glaze very warm and melty, increasing the gooey-ness factor by a lot – but if you wait longer it will probably be prettier! )