photo by Anthony Palatta
What do you expect from a cinnamon bun? A sticky, gooey, pecan mess? A soft, mushy dough doused in royal icing or a sweet cream cheese frosting?
I went for something in between with this recipe, from good old Martha's Baking Handbook. I started with a danish dough, then rolled it out, filled it with cinnamon and sour cream, and then cut it into rounds, which I baked off. Sounds simple, but trust me, it's not.
Another time, I used the same dough, added crushed pecans, and then placed the cinnamon rounds into a goo of light corn syrup, brown sugar, and more chopped pecans. Voila--sticky bun heaven.
However, neither of these alternatives, delicious as they may be, come close to my version of cinnamon bun heaven: the gooey Cinnabon, of mall food court fame. Yes, I admit it.
So, does anyone have their recipe?
(from the M. S. Baking Handbook)
1 cup warm milk
2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar (for the yeast)
1 lb 4 oz (about 4 1/2 cups) flour, plus more for dusting
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp, cut into tablespoons
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm milk, add sugar, then stir until dissolved. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer with dough hook, combine flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and 4 tbsp butter. Beat on low speed until butter is incorporated and mixture resembles coarse meal, 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in yeast-milk mixture. Mix until dough just comes together. Add eggs and yolk. Mix until just combined, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not overmix.
Turn out dough onto lightly floured work surface and knead gently to form a smooth ball, about 30 seconds. Wrap well with plastic and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 18 by 10 inch rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Keep corners as square as possible. With short side facing you, evenly distribute remaining butter over 2/3 of the dough. Fold unbuttered third over like a business letter, followed by remaining third to seal in the butter.
Roll out dough again to an 18 x 10 inch rectangle, then fold dough in thirds again as above. Refrigerate for 1 hour. This is the first of 3 turn. Repeat rolling and folding two more times, refrigerating for an hour between turns.
Refrigerate dough tightly wrapped in plastic for at least 4 hours or overnight. Dough can be frozen, tightly wrapped in plastic, for up to 2 weeks. Before using, thaw in fridge overnight.
Use 1/2 the dough above plus:
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tbsp cinnamon
plus flour for dusting
Let dough stand at room temp until slightly softened, about 15 minutes. On lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 18 x 14 inch rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Spread sour cream over surface of dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Dust sour cream with cinnamon and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roll up dough tightly lengthwise to form a log about 3 inches in diameter and trim ends using a serrated knife. Transfer log to baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 350.
Using a sharp knife and a sawing motion, slice dough crosswise into 12 rounds, about 1 1/2 inches thick and place in two 6 cup jumbo muffin pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until 1/2 inch above the cups, about 25 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake until buns are dark golden brown, about 35 minutes.
Sticky Bun Variation:
Fill muffin pan cups with 3 tbsp light corn syrup (total 2 1/4 cups corn syrup) and then sprinkle syrup with 1 tbsp brown sugar (total 3/4 cup dark brown sugar).
Chop 2 cups pecans and break 1 1/3 cups in half lengthwise (total 3 1/3 cups pecan halves). Add chopped pecans to the cinnamon and sprinkle over sour cream in step above. Add halved pecans to muffin cups with corn syrup and brown sugar.
Slice cinnamon buns and place into muffin cups with corn syrup on bottom. Continue as directed above. Bake slightly longer, about 40 minutes and as soon as they're done, immediately turn out buns onto a parchment-lined baking sheet.