Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas morning cinnamon buns

Who wouldn't like fresh cinnamon buns on Christmas morning?

The problem is, with any type of fresh baked bread, you'll have to start at 5 AM if you want it done in time for breakfast. Um, no thank you. I like to be snug under my covers at that time of the morning.

Well, as it turns out, we can all sleep in because these cinnamon buns can be prepared the evening before then baked Christmas morning. How awesome is that?

The recipe below is the result of tweaking a recipe found on and another recipe from Baking Banter, which is a blog sponsored by King Arthur Flour. If you aren't subscribed to Baking Banter, I highly recommend you get on it. Lots of great recipes and tips.

Cinnamon Buns
Makes about 14 large buns
  • 1 package dry active yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup lukewarm warm
  • 4 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour is fine too), spoon in and leveled
  • about 1 tbs kosher salt (or 1 tsp regular table salt)
  • 7 tbs butter, softened and divided
  • 2 eggs, lightly scrambled
  • ground cinnamon (about 1 tbs worth)
  • butter for brushing
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 3 tbs half & half or milk
In a large bowl, mix the warm water, sugar and yeast. Let this sit for about 10 minutes so the yeast can bloom. Add about 3 1/2 cups of the flour, salt, 4 tbs butter and eggs and mix until it all comes together and forms a nice elastic dough, about 5 minutes with a stand mixer or 10 to 15 minutes by hand. Add the remaining flour as needed if the dough is too sticky. Put the dough in a large, well-oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/5 hours.

Deflate the dough and lay on a large piece of parchment or silicone baking mat, forming a rectangular shape. Let the dough relax for about 5 or 10 minutes, covered with plastic wrap. Roll out the dough into large rectangle. I actually find it's easier to flatten the dough with my hands instead of a rolling pin. In any case, the dough shouldn't be more than about 1/4 inch thick. Slather with the remaining butter then sprinkle with the cinnamon. You can also add raisins or even chopped pecan pieces if you like. I don't recommend adding sugar to the filling. I did that once and found the dough swimming in a pool of sugar water the next morning. Apparently sugar draws out water from dough. They still turned out fine when I baked them, but I imagine they would have been more moist had I left out the sugar.

Roll the dough into a log. Cut the log into 1 to 2 inch pieces. Lay the swirls in an oiled baking pan, leaving at least an inch around each so the dough can expand. Flatten the swirls a bit. I ended up using a 9x12 and an 8x8 pan. Cover securely with plastic wrap and stick them in the fridge.

To bake chilled buns, remove them from the fridge and allow to sit for about 30 minutes to take the chill off. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350F and make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and half & half. Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, or until slightly browned. When the buns are done, brush them with butter and drizzle the glaze on top. (Or you could try the cream cheese frosting given in the recipe. Or maybe an elegant creme Anglaise to drizzle on top?) Serve warm.

If you have leftover buns, try making bread pudding the next day. Cut enough of the buns to fill an 8x8 pan. Mix 4 eggs with 2 cups whole milk and 2 tbs sugar. Pour over the bread. Dot the top with 2 tbs butter. Bake in a 350F oven for about 45 minutes or until set in the center. If the pudding gets too brown, tent with foil. Serve warm with maple syrup. Yum!

Happy holidays!

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