Who does not like a good warm cinnamon bun. They truly are a small bit of heaven on earth. Soft enriched dough, cinnamon sugar, and cream cheese frosting…literally a match-made in heaven. Everyone loves a good cinnamon bun. The addition of small nibs of dark chocolate makes them even more delicious and more-ish.
It was love at first bite for me. Since the first time I had a cinnamon bun I was hooked. It really is a special bun that warms most people’s hearts. And let me tell you, home baked cinnamon buns are ten times better than store bought ones. This recipe will help you to bake a batch of delicious cinnamon buns that will make the whole family happy. And once you understand the process and have done it once, they really are not too difficult to make. They are a treat for the whole family and are a must have recipe. The dark chocolate I added to this recipe is optional, but it does add a really nice bitterness and richness to the buns.
Making cinnamon buns can be a bit daunting at first, but I promise you that if you follow this recipe you will be able to do it. I personally love a challenge and I love baking recipes that seem ‘tricky’. The feeling of success is great, and the taste of success is even better.
How to make cinnamon buns:
Cinnamon buns have three components: an enriched dough, a cinnamon filling, and a cream cheese frosting. Altogether it might seem daunting, but breaking it up into the three components makes it’s much more do-able. If you stick to the outlined steps you will definitely make a successful batch of delicious cinnamon buns.
The dough is a very soft enriched dough that requires almost no kneading. Having a stand mixer makes it much easier, you just combine all the dough’s ingredients together and mix it for a minute or two. Once your dough is mixed it is left to prove, until needed for the rolling. While the dough proves you can make the filling and frosting. The filling and frosting both require very little effort, it’s just mixing the ingredients together and setting them aside for later use.
Rolling the dough:
The rolling and cutting of the dough is the most ‘difficult’ part of the whole recipe. But once you have done it, it really is actually very simple. Roll the dough out into a uniform rectangle on a flour surface. You should try to keep the thickness of the dough the same throughout by working slowly and gently. Then spread the topping over the dough, covering the whole area.
Working form the top, you gently roll the first bit of the dough inwards to create a small roll. Working from side to side inch the the roll downwards. Keep rolling until you have a thick log. Try to keep the roll tight but also keep in mind to work gently. Cut the log into equal sized pieces, and place into the prepared muffin tins. The size of the buns will be dependant on the size of muffin pans you use. For normal sized muffins, you should cut 16 pieces about 3cm thick. For jumbo muffin pans, you should cut 12 pieces at about 4cm thick.
- Prove the dough in a slightly warm oven. Switch the oven to 50C for two minutes just so that the oven has slightly warmed and switch it off again, and put the bowl in the off oven. This will allow it to prove much faster, especially if the kitchen is cold.
- Once the dough has proved you can put it in the fridge for later use. You can prepare the dough the day before, leave it in the fridge overnight and then roll the dough straight from the fridge the next morning. Your second prove might just take a bit longer as the dough will need to warm up quite a bit. This also makes the rolling process easier as the cold dough is much easier to work with.
- You can also prepare the filling and frosting in advance and leave them in the fridge overnight. Just remember to take them out an hour before use as they will be hard, and will need to be softened before using.
- Rolling the dough on a large piece of baking paper/silicone paper can make the clean up much easier and also makes the rolling easier.
- These buns can be frozen baked and unfrosted for later use. Simply defrost and warm them up in the microwave and spread the frosting over them and enjoy warm.
Challenge yourself and make these delicious buns. You will see that it is not difficult at all, and that they taste 100 times better when baked at home.
Chocolate Cinnamon Buns
For the dough:
- 450 g cake flour
- 35 g white sugar
- 5 g salt
- 60 g butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup milk (240g) (warm)
- 14 g dry active yeast
- 1 large egg
For the cinnamon filling:
- 120 g butter (at room temperature)
- 200 g brown sugar
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 100 g dark chocolate nibs/pieces (optional)
For the cream cheese frosting:
- 110 g cream cheese (at room temperature)
- 60 g butter (at room temperature)
- 180 g icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 15 ml milk
- pinch of salt
- Pour the milk in a jug and warm it in the microwave, about 30-40 seconds. Measure the yeast and add it to the milk and allow it to stand for a bit.
- In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Place the bowl in the mixer and mix the ingredients together, until the butter has been worked into the flour and it resembles breadcrumbs.
- Break the egg into the milk and whisk the mixture until the egg and yeast have been incorporated.
- While the mixer is running at a low speed, drizzle the milk mixture into the flour until all the liquid has been added. Speed up the mixer and beat the dough for 2 minutes. It is a soft enriched dough so it doesn’t need extensive kneading.
- With a scraper remove the soft stretchy dough from the bowl into a large clean bowl. Wrap the bowl securely with cling film and place it in a warm place. Allow the dough to prove for 30-45 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- While the dough is proving make the filling. Combine the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and mix together into a soft spreadable mixture. Put some cling film over the bowl and put it to one side at room temperature.
- To make the frosting combine the cream cheese and butter, if kept at room temperature it should be soft. Mix the cheese and butter together until it forms a paste and then add the icing sugar, vanilla, and salt and mix together well. Cover the bowl with cling film and keep it a room temperature.
- Grease 1 and a half medium sized muffin pans, so that you have space for 16. Or if making large buns grease 2 jumbo muffin pans so that you have space for 12 buns. Cut small squares of baking paper to put in the bottom of each muffin hole.
- Once the dough has doubled place it in the fridge for 30 minutes just to cool the dough down slightly and help it firm up a bit.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan.
- Take a large sheet of baking paper and cover it with a light dusting of flour. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and place it on the floured baking paper. Sprinkle some flour onto the top of the dough and work it into a rough rectangle with your hands. Sprinkle some more flour if the dough is too sticky. Then take a rolling pin and roll the dough out into a large rectangle about 50 centimetres by 30. Work slowly and gently and be careful to not tear the dough.
- Once your dough has been rolled spread your cinnamon sugar filling over the dough in a thin layer. Sprinkle your chocolate nibs over the filling as well. Then working gently from the top (which is the length of your dough) roll the dough inwards to make a small initial roll. Working from left to right gently roll the dough in again, and keep on rolling bit by bit from left to right until your dough has been rolled into a long log. If pieces of dough gets stuck just gently pry them away with a thin sharp knife.
- Trim the excess edges off each side of the log. Then cut the dough into 16 equal pieces (about 3 centimetres thick). If you are making larger buns in large muffin pans, cut the dough into 12 equal pieces (4 centimetres thick).
- Place the cut buns into the muffin pans with the swirl facing upwards. Allow the buns to prove for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan.
- Place the trays in the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from the oven once baked. On a large board or large piece of baking paper tip the muffin pan over and allow the buns to slip out. Gently tip the buns over so that the tops are facing upwards, be careful not to burn yourself with the hot sugar in the buns.
- Spread the frosting over the piping hot buns and allow it to melt and drip down the sides. Allow to cool slightly, serve and enjoy.