I was going to start this post with something about the days of cupcake being numbered, because it seems that wherever you look at the moment, there’s another cinnamon bun recipe. I went to Google Trends in search of proof , and found a fairly reassuring chart that trends upwards to support this theory.
But when I added ‘cupcakes’ to the search, it became clear just what a long way there is to go. Cinnamon rolls are still a drop in the cupcake ocean.
Still, I brightened, that just means that this still counts as ‘ahead of the curve’! So go ahead and make some cinnamon buns, safe in the knowledge that you are still counted as trendsetting 🙂
Cinnamon rolls, or cinnamon buns, are much more straightforward to make than they might seem. You make an ‘enriched’ bread dough, roll it into a rectangle, spread with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, then roll it up like a rug, slice it across and arrange the slices in a tin to bake them.
Of course, there are a few techniques that make things easier. Enriched dough means using milk, butter and probably an egg instead of plain water in the dough. The fat helps soften the texture of the final roll, as do the milk proteins. I find that rolling out the dough into an even shape is easier if it has chilled for a bit – that can mean leaving it to rise overnight in the fridge, or just chilling it for an hour or so before rolling out.
It was one of the biggest revelations of cooking school to me that you can adjust the shape of something as you roll it out. Before then, I had just tried changing the pressure of the rolling pin to try and get the right shape when rolling out a pastry crust or something. But you can just push and pull the edges as you go, to keep the shape even. So if you’re not getting a rectangle, but more of a blob, just push and pull the corners a bit to make them square, push the edges with a dough scraper to make them straight again, and carry on. This is, if anything, even easier with bread dough, which is much more forgiving of being pushed and pulled around than pastry is.
Be liberal with the butter and sugar – stinting on the filling is not the answer. Roll the log up as tightly as you can, working your way up and down the length to make it even.
Use a ruler to mark sections along the roll so you get even sized rolls. If you want to be super neat, you can trim each end off, but I can never bring myself to sacrifice any proportion of the dough for neatness.
Lay them out in a grid in a roasting tin (having sides helps to stop them spreading out too much), in a circle in a cake tin (like this Signe Johanesen cinnamon bun cake) or put individual rolls into a bun or muffin tin, as long as they are well-greased.
Leave the rolls to proof, puff up and fill in all the gaps, then bake, not too hot (bread should be baked pretty well as hot as your oven will go, whereas dough enriched with sugar should be baked at a cake temperature – around 180C or 350F – so it doesn’t burn.
- Edd Kimber makes his flaky cinnamon buns with a type of croissant dough
- Signe Johansen likes to use cardamom and spelt flour for her Scandilicious buns
- Smitten Kitchen has taken it a step further with pumpkin puree
- The Pioneer Woman goes all-out for indulgence