I was a pretty lucky kid. My mom loves cooking and was always in the kitchen making lots of goodies—truffles, pies, fresh bread, jam, and oodles of oatmeal coconut cookies. Now that mum is on the other side of the planet though (the Canada – Australia issue), I have to recreate these homey feelings all by myself… and while it’s not quite the same, it is ever so satisfying to recreate a beloved childhood recipe and have it taste exactly the way you remember.
There are a few very specific recipes that remind me of my mother’s kitchen: blueberry pie, almond bread, granola, and these cinnamon buns. While definitely a treat, I remember quite a few pack lunches at school containing one of these cinnamon buns… and nothing quite satisfies like a fresh cinnamon bun, does it? As I said, I was a lucky kid to get treats like these so often!
These cinnamon buns do take a few steps to get them just right, but pulling apart a fresh batch will be so worth it, trust me. Enjoy!
Devilishly Good Cinnamon Buns
Makes: About 12-14 cinnamon buns
Cooking time: 30 minutes hands on, plus time for rising and baking
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1 tbsp (1 package) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups flour, plus another 1-2 cups for kneading (optional: replace 1-2 cups with wholewheat flour)
- Filling & sticky sauce:
- 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup butter, separated
- 1.5 cups brown sugar, separated in half
- 1 cup chopped roasted pecans or walnuts, separated in half
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
Mix together your warm water, milk, 1 tsp of the sugar, and yeast in a cup. Set aside somewhere warm for about 10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy; this means your yeast has woken up and is alive!
Meanwhile, in large bowl, soften the butter in the microwave and cream together with the sugar and salt. Beat in the eggs until smooth, then combine with the yeast mixture (once it’s frothy, of course). Gradually beat in the first 2 cups of flour to the mixture, mixing it thoroughly for about 2 minutes. Add the next two cups of flour and stir until it becomes a sticky dough and holds its shape. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter and knead for about 10-12 minutes, gradually adding more flour until the dough becomes elastic and smooth—just a little sticky still, but not in any danger of making a big doughy mess. It should hold together something like the photo below.
Set the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a bit of waxed or baking paper and a clean dish towel. Let rise somewhere warm for about an hour, until it is about doubled in size. (Or, let rise in the fridge for about 8 hours.)
Next, melt 3/4 cup each of the butter and brown sugar together in a small bowl, mixing well. Spread this across the bottom of a 13×9″ glass baking dish (I ended up using two 9×9″ glass dishes which did fine) and sprinkle half of the nuts over top. Combine the remaining 3/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and remaining nuts. In a separate little bowl, melt the remaining 1/4 cup butter.
Tip your dough back onto a lightly floured counter, punching it down slightly. Roll it out into a 14×18″ (35×45 cm) rectangle (or pretty close) and brush with the 1/4 cup melted butter. Sprinkle the sugar and nut mixture over this, and carefully roll the dough up lengthwise, to make a very long roll. With a sharp knife, slice the log in half, then half again, until you end up with about 12-14 little cinnamon buns. Disperse them evenly in your prepared baking dish. Set aside to rise somewhere warm for about 20-25 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
Bake in a preheated oven at 375 F / 190 C for 30 minutes, until tops are golden and are slightly “hollow” sounding when tapped with a knife. Let the buns cool for a handful of minutes, then invert onto a chopping board and drizzle the sticky sugar and walnut mixture from the baking dish over top. Enjoy warm with a big glass of milk!