Fluffy golden rolls with seemingly endless swirls of cinnamon, my best ever cinnamon buns are the perfect weekend treat, and so easy to make! I promise you, they’re so close to cinnamon buns from the mall, you won’t believe it!
Everyone out there seems to have their own recipe for cinnamon buns. I know this, because I feel like I’ve tried all of them. I’m not actually complaining about this, I don’t think it’s possible to have a bad cinnamon bun, they just weren’t perfect.
Notice how I said “weren’t” perfect. Yeah, that’s because now they “are” perfect. I may be ten pounds heavier because of the search (remember, I did it for you), but it was totally worth it. Bo, he’s a cinnamon bun with no frosting kinda guy.
But the kids and I, well, we do things right in this house. A cinnamon bun just isn’t a cinnamon bun unless it’s smothered with a super light, smooth, cream cheese frosting. Note: the amount of frosting shown in the image is not actually representative of how much I put on my cinnamon rolls. The amount I use is obscene. Deliciously obscene.
There is absolutely nothing better to enjoy on the weekend than a big plate of fresh from the oven cinnamon buns. The biggest difference with mine is in the preparation (you’re going to need some patience to let them rise).
Cinnamon Buns Step By Step
I know that making cinnamon buns at home can seem scary if you haven’t done it before. Don’t be afraid! It will be worth it, I promise, and you’ll never want to make them from a can again.
I took step-by-step pictures for you to take all the guess-work out of it too. Here you go:
This is the dough straight out of the mixer.
And this is the dough after it spent two hours rising.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter, then use your fingers to shape it into a rough rectangle.
Roll it out to a nice big rectangle.
I just aim to get mine a couple of inches bigger than a half sheet pan, roughly 20″ x 15″
Use an offset spatula to spread on your filling. Go tight to the sides and top, but leave 1/2″ bare at the bottom. This takes a couple of minutes to get even, and the softer the butter, the easier it is. It will work though, don’t be discouraged when it seems like it’s sticking in the beginning.
Roll the dough down from the top, as tightly as possible. Do this by picking up a section at a time (left side, centre, right side, repeat), doing a quarter roll, then pushing back slightly when you set it down. This is the most important step because it’s what gets you all those swirls. Lightly wet that bottom 1/2″ with water using your fingers, and pinch to seal.
Use a very sharp knife to make a small mark every 1.5″ across the top of the log. Slice down slowly and gently to cut into rounds without squishing the rolls.
Here’s what the rolls will look like when they’re cut.
Place the rolls in a greased pan with high sides, leaving a generous amount of space between them (at least 1″). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 1.5 to 2 hours.
Here is what they’ll look like after rising again. Now they’re ready for the oven.
And here they are when they come out! Don’t forget to let them cool for ten minutes before eating or frosting!
- 1 cup warm milk (110ºF)
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/3 cup margarine
- 1 tsp salt (fine grind)
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 3 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/3 cup butter, very soft (or use margarine)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Put the warm milk into the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir in the yeast and let sit for five minutes. Add the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs to the bowl and mix until well combined. Add the flour and mix just until it forms a dough.
- Switch out the paddle attachment for the dough hook, and knead for 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl and add the dough, turning to coat with oil, then tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let rise for two hours, until the dough has doubled in size. I do this in the oven with just the light turned on.
- While the dough is rising, mix together the filling. Put all ingredients into a bowl (brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, and salt). Blend together and set aside. You want this to be very soft - the softer it is, the easier it will spread for you.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Use your fingers to shape it into a rough triangle, then roll out slightly larger than a sheet pan, about 20" x 15".
- Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the filling onto the dough, going tight to the top and sides, and leaving 1/2" bare at the bottom. The softer your butter is, the easier this is to do. It will seem like it's never going to cover everything, or that it's too thick to spread properly. I promise, it will, it just takes a few minutes.
- Start at the top and roll the dough down towards you. You want this to be done as tightly as possible. Pick a section of the roll up, do a quarter roll towards you, then push it back slightly as you set it down, this will keep it nice and tight, and once you're about halfway done you can just roll it to the end. This is the key to having lots of swirls.
- When you get to the bottom, wet the 1/2" of dough that doesn't have any filling on it with a little bit of water (just use your fingers), then pinch it into the roll to help seal the rolls. Use the palm of your hand to gently tap the ends in to flatten them.
- Make a slight mark with a very sharp knife every 1.5" across the top of the log, then slice into rounds. Slice down gently and slowly so that you don't squish the rolls.
- Grease your baking pan(s), and make sure to choose ones with high sides - that helps the cinnamon rolls to climb nice and high. Place your rolls, leaving a generous space between them (about 2"). Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until at least doubled in size, about 1.5 hours (I do this in the oven with just the light on). See notes on how to do up to this step the night before.
- Preheat your oven to 350ºF with a rack in the middle position. Bake your cinnamon buns for about 15 minutes, until just lightly golden brown. Watch them carefully as they can go from perfect to over done quickly. It make take up to 20 minutes.
- Let cool for at least 10 minutes before adding frosting or serving.
You can prepare these the day before, so all you have to do is bake them. Complete all the steps until your cut rolls are in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap, then place in the fridge. They should slowly rise over night, but if they are still a little small, just place in the oven in the morning with the light on so they can finish rising.
My favourite mall cinnamon buns are the Caramel Peca-bun from Cinnabun. Here's a quick caramel sauce that I make for these when I want to have that at home. Just drizzle this on top of your frosted (or unfrosted) cinnamon buns, then top with some toasted pecans.
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
Put the butter. brown sugar, and heavy cream in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a rolling boil, and whisk for 10 minutes. You don't have to whisk constantly, but don't walk away. It was become thick and syrupy.
Stir in the vanilla and salt. Serve warm. It was start to harden a bit as it cools, just reheat in the microwave for 20 seconds.