Sticky Cinnamon Buns
These buns are more like the Cinnabon Buns than the copycat recipe for Cinnabon buns are. I know, because I tried that recipe. This recipe is one that has been evolving over the years, tweaking a little here and a little there until I finally am ready to say done! I am not going to lie, there is a lot of time and effort involved in making cinnamon buns. It isn’t hard so much as time consuming. But don’t let the length of the recipe put you off. I made it that way on purpose to explain every step. Read the recipe over once, and have a look at the pictures of each step of the way. This will give you an idea of what you are doing, and in what order. If you have ever made bread or buns before, you will find it easy. And once you have made these buns once or twice, it will be no problem after that. And trust me, your family will ask for you to make these again and again.
1. Prepare the pans by melting margarine, brown sugar, corn syrup and cinnamon and cooking on med-low just until it starts to bubble. Remove from heat and pour into 2 – 9×12 pans that you have sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle 1 cup roasted pecans evenly over each pan. Set aside. Forgot how to roast nuts? Click here.
2. Sprinkle dry yeast over 1/4 cup warm water with 1 tsp sugar stirred into it. Give the yeast a stir to get it all wet. Set aside for about 10 minutes to “bloom”. It triples in size and gets frothy. Stir it down before adding to other ingredients.
3. Begin making your dough by pouring milk, hot water, margarine, sugar, salt, and three eggs into your mixer. Stir bloomed yeast, then add the yeast and 3 cups flour and beat on medium for 3 minutes using paddle attachment (or regular beaters). The result should look like the consistency of a cake batter. At this point, change to your dough hook attachment if you have one. If not, you will beat the rest of the flour in by hand. A wooden spoon works well for this.
4. Mix in as much of the remaining 3 1/4 cups flour as the dough will take. Your dough should feel smooth and springy to the touch, but not sticky. If it feels sticky, add a bit more flour. How much flour the dough takes up is affected by the room temperature, and the humidity in the air. Stick to the recipe as closely as possible, but if the dough feels right before adding all the flour, that’s OK to stop adding flour at that point. And if you are doing this without benefit of a mixer with dough hook, you will have to do all the kneading by hand. Sprinkle counter or table liberally with flour, dump out the dough, and bring the dough into a flattened round. Starting with the edge farthest away from you, fold the dough in half toward you. Place the heels of your hands on the dough, and push both down and away from you, as hard as you can. Give the dough a quarter turn, and repeat: fold in half by folding the far edge over the dough, toward you. Use the heels of your hands to push the dough down and away from you. Keep repeating until the dough is smooth and springy, adding flour as needed to keep it from sticking. This will take about 15 minutes when doing it all by hand.
Click to view video of how the dough should look and feel when it is done:
5. Grease a large bowl by spraying with cooking spray, and turn the dough out into the bowl. Spray the top of the dough to grease the top, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap or waxed paper. Put in a warm place to rise (I find that in the oven with just the oven light on gives it enough warmth to rise, plus it keeps it out of the way while I prepare the filling.)
6. In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, cinnamon and flour together. Then using a pastry blender or a fork, mix in the margarine until the mixture is crumbly. Set aside. (Don’t put the raisins into this filling – I find it easier to sprinkle over top of the dough to get them evenly distributed. )
7. Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide into two equal pieces. I use a kitchen scale for this purpose.
8. Use your fingers to pat dough into a rectangle, trying to even out the thickness as much as possible. Sometimes if you have one thick side and one thin side, you may have to lift it up and reposition it, trying to even it out. Roll out with rolling pin, and measure. You are shooting for about 12 x 14 inches, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Use your hands to form the corners as best as you can.
9. Sprinkle filling over the dough, using half of the filling for each rectangle. If you like raisins, sprinkle about 3/4 cup over each rectangle of dough. Gently roll up, starting from the long edge and rolling towards yourself. Pat the roll into a straight line, and pat the ends in towards the middle of the roll, to get an even roll as possible. Position the roll with seam side down, and cut into 12 pieces. I do this by cutting in half first, then cut each half into quarters. Then cut each quarter into thirds. You can use a measuring tape if you like, or just eyeball it. Place the buns into the prepared pans, remembering to place the end pieces with the end down/cut side up. Once you have placed all buns into your pans, spray the buns with cooking spray, and pop them back into your oven with the light on (or any warm place where they won’t be disturbed) until they are doubled in size and fill up the whole pan. The should only take about 1/2 to 3/4 hour or so.
Click here to see how to roll up the dough:
10. Once they are ready to cook, remove them from the oven, and turn the oven on to 350 degrees F. Let the oven preheat for at least 10 minutes, to ensure proper cooking temperature. Cook one pan at a time, on the centre rack of the oven. You will cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 325 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes. Open the oven door right after turning temperature down to peek at your buns (really you are letting excess heat out so that it turns down to 325 right away). Don’t forget to set your timer for another 10 minutes.
11. Once your timer goes, take the buns out of the oven. Have a large piece of aluminum foil on your countertop, ready to turn the buns onto. Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the buns, then immediately turn the pan over the foil. Let the pan sit there over top of the buns for about five minutes. This usually allows most of the topping and the pecans to fall down onto the buns. If, when you remove the pan, there is still pecans and candy stuck to the pan, no worries. Just scrape it off with a knife and spread it over the buns.
And that’s it. Yes, it is going to take up at least half of your day, if not more. But trust me – they are worth it!
One more really important thing: you must be sure that your oven cooks at the correct temperature. If you haven’t checked it recently, it’s worth it to buy an oven thermometer from the dollar store and stick it in your oven to see if when you set it to 350 degrees, it really gets to 350 degrees and no more. I found my daughter’s gas stove very difficult to cook with, because it would go 25 degrees over the setting, then back down to the set temp, and so was overall too hot. What happens then is that the candy caramelizes, and you get something like pecan brittle on top of your buns. Not horrible, but definitely not what you want. This goes for all recipes too, but is extra important for this recipe.
Ready to make your own? Below is the recipe:
For The Recipe: Printer Friendly Version
I made a version of these often when the kids were little, and everyone always loved them. I have gradually evolved the recipe over the years, always trying to get the perfect cinnamon bun. This recipe is the result. Tender and fluffy enough dough to cut with a fork. Enough brown sugar cinnamon sauce dripping down the tops and sides to make anyone drool. Topped with pecan halves, these buns are heaven. In fact, this recipe is closer to a Cinnabon cinnamon bun than the copycat recipe is! Try them, and see if you agree.
servings: Makes 2 dozen cinnamon buns
For the buns:
- ¼ cup warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 tsp yeast (about 1 ½ packages)
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup hot water
- 1/3 cup white sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 large eggs
- 5 – 6 ¼ cups all purpose flour
For the filling:
- 1/2 cup butter or hard margarine
- 1 ¼ cups brown sugar
- 4 tsp cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 1 cup raisins (or so – to taste)
For the pans:
- 1 1/4 cups butter or hard margarine
- 2 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/3 cup corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp cinnamon
- 2 cups pecan halves (toasted)
To prepare the pans
Melt the 1 ¼ cups butter or margarine in saucepan over med-low heat. Add 2 cups brown sugar, 1/3 cup corn syrup, and 2 Tbsp cinnamon. Stir till sugar melts and mixture just begins to bubble. Immediately pour into two 9 x 12 cake pans, dividing equally. Sprinkle pecan halves over top. Set pans aside till buns are ready to set into them.
To prepare the dough:
- Stir 1 tsp sugar into 1/4 cup warm water. Sprinkle yeast over top and give it a little stir to wet the yeast. Let stand 10 minutes till it foams and rises. Stir before adding to bowl.
- Meanwhile, in large mixer bowl, pour in the 1 cup milk and ½ cup hot water. Cut the ½ cup margerine into smaller pieces and add to bowl along with the 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt and 3 eggs. Add in the yeast mixture. Beat in 3 cups of flour with your mixer on medium speed. Beat 3 minutes to develop the gluten.
- Work in the rest of the flour gradually, either with your dough hook attachment or by hand with a wooden spoon. If using mixer with a dough hook, let it go about 3 – 4 minutes until it pulls away from the side of the bowl. If mixing by hand, once the dough is too stiff to mix with a spoon, turn out onto a counter and work the flour in by hand, then knead until the dough “feels right”. The dough should feel soft, smooth and elastic, but not sticky. This will take 3 to 5 minutes with a dough hook, or 8 to 10 minutes if you are doing it by hand.
- Turn dough into large, well greased bowl, grease the top of the dough (spray with Pam), cover with plastic wrap, then a damp cloth, and set in a warm place to rise until almost doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- I recommend using this our time to prepare your filling, and your pans if you haven’t already. Wash up your bowls and utensils during this hour too, so you don’t have quite so much mess to slean up at the end. Enlist your husband to help with this if you are lucky enough to have one who helps J.
To prepare the filling:
- For filling, in small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour and cinnamon.
- Then cut in butter or margarine with pastry blender (or fork) till crumbly.
To make the rolls:
- Punch down the dough in the bowl, turn out onto greased surface, and cut in half. I eyeball it, then measure with my kitchen scale, taking a bit away from one and adding to the other, till I have two equal halves. Don’t take too much time here, approximately half is good enough.
- Put one half of the dough back into the bowl, covered with plastic wrap while you work with the first half. With the other 1/2 of dough, use your fingers to pat into a rectangle of about 14 x 12. Use your rolling pin to roll it evenly. You may have to pick it up and roll it again to get the thickness of the dough approximately even. Use your hand and the roller to coax the corners to be as square as possible.
- Sprinkle rectangle with half of the filling, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup raisins (or more if you like – I like 3/4 cup). Reach across the dough, and use your fingers to coax the edge of the dough up. Roll towards you from long side into a roll, then cut into 12 equal pieces. Place into one of the prepared pans.
- Repeat with the second half of the dough, and place into second prepared pan.
- Let rise in oven with light on till doubled in bulk (Should take about 3/4 – 1 hr).
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake cinnamon buns at 350°F for 20 minutes, then turn down oven to 325°F and bake for another 10 minutes. (Open the oven door when you turn it down, to help it cool down.) One done, buns should look evenly golden brown, and sound hollow when middle ones are tapped.
- Remove from oven and run knife around to loosen buns from pan. Quickly turn out onto heavy foil, leave the pan upside down on the rolls for about 5 minutes, to allow all the sticky goodness to drip onto the buns. Then remove pan.
Repeat for second pan of cinnamon buns.
- Usually buns and bread are baked at 350, but I find that the sugar often caramelizes and turns hard at that temperature. I have tried cooking them at 325 and cooking a little longer so that won’t happen, but it’s difficult to tell when the dough is cooked as it doesn’t get that nice brown color. So, this recipe uses the method of turning the oven down for the last 10 minutes, and they come out just right.
- The sticky topping may get toffee-like once it cools completely. So, no problem, just microwave them for 10 seconds or so when eating them the next day.
- Don’t use glass pans for these buns, as glass cooks hotter than metal. However, if all you have is a glass pan, then turn the oven down after 10 minutes at 350, and then cook at 325 for 25 more minutes.
- These freeze beautifully. Let them cool first, separate the buns, and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Once frozen, you can put several of these together in a plastic bag without them sticking together, or getting squashed. To serve, take out one at a time and unwrap while frozen (easier to remove the plastic wrap that way). Pop in the microwave for 10 – 15 seconds, and they will be as good as fresh baked.