30 by 30: making cinnamon buns

My 30th birthday is a little over 4 months away and there are quite a few items left on my 30 by 30 list, yup – quite a few. So when my sister asked me to make something a little special (read: indulgent) for brunch this past Sunday (I’m staying with her while in NY), I decided it was time to cross one thing off the list – cinnamon buns (or cinnamon rolls – is there a difference??)

light cinnamon buns-9

Now before you remind me about my goals of losing a few pounds this year, let me assure you – I’m well aware of this goal. And in case I somehow forgot, my jeans very clearly (although passive aggressively) set the record straight by bursting at the seems. No, I’m not using this expression metaphorically. Literally, I looked down at my jeans yesterday while my sister was in a dressing room trying on wedding dress #3785643, and along both sides of the pant legs, I saw seems. Holding on for their dear life. No bueno.

light cinnamon buns

Needless to say I went with a lighter recipe for brunch (from Cook’s Illustrated The Best Light Recipecookbook). These guys normally know their stuff. They test dozens for recipes before publishing their own. They tell you what went wrong and what went right. I trust them.

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Yet somehow this recipe was a fail.

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The dough was crazy sticky (I added a lot of flour in an attempt to remedy that); the technique of patting it down (instead of rolling it out) into a rectangle was quite strange (they said it’d be easier but nope, quite awkward in fact) and then finally when I started forming the cinnamon roll, the dough started ripping in so many places – spewing out cinnamon sugar like crazy (you may notice patches in the below picture).

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I was not a happy camper. Not at all. But at the end, decided to just plop a bunch of dough and cinnamon sugar blobs into the pan and see what happens.

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Cinnamon bun dough blobs Winking smile

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This is what happened ~25 minutes later. Hey, not bad!

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Getting these babies out of the pan was no easy task (since I basically poured sugar over the dough, it stuck to the bottom of the pan once melted)… but I persevered.

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These were “quick” cinnamon buns, meaning the dough was not yeasted. Instead they were biscuit-like buns with a sweet cinnamon filling and a cream cheese/buttermilk glaze. I won’t be making this recipe again but they were quite tasty at the end.

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Have you ever made cinnamon buns (or rolls)? Do you have a favorite lighter recipe? And just for fun… what’s your favorite brunch food? Mine is French toast and this crème brulee baked French toast (which incidentally I made last time I was staying at my sister’s in NY) is my favorite recipe of all times!

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19 comments to 30 by 30: making cinnamon buns

  • This is also a goal food of mine to make, but the yeast factor definitely intimidates me! Based on this posting, I guess I should probably not skip around the yeast, though! They did turn out pretty good in the end… I’d check that off that list!

    • Elina

      The yeasted buns are different – have more of that chew factor. I wouldn’t necessarily give up on non-yeasted recipes if yeast scares you (although it shouldn’t!) – just this one wasn’t great :) The biscuit-like texture is quite nice although I would say I prefer the more traditional buns.

  • I’ve never made cinnamon buns, I’d love to try sometime

  • I’ve made a few vegan cinnamon rolls that are pretty good. They’re clearly healthier, but still satisfying.

    That creme brulee baked french toast sounds unbelievably awesome!

  • I don’t know if I made the light ones, but I made easy cinnamon rolls from Baking Illustrated, and I was disappointed in them because they tasted like biscuits. I wanted cinnamon rolls. I’ve already mentioned my dissatisfaction with the recipe. :)

    I think nothing really beats Flour sticky buns! And my favorite brunch food is eggs Benedict.

    • Elina

      I still have never had Flour’s sticky buns – tried to get them a few times but they were out. I guess I’ll have to make them sometime since I have the book!

  • Yes yes yes I have the recipe for you! I’ve made these twice: first time Christmas morning at my parents’ house, and the second time New Years Day for a bunch of friends that slept over. Here’s the recipe: http://thediva-dish.com/uncategorized/the-cinnamon-rolls-that-almost-killed-me/

    These just happen to be wheat-free (made with spelt flour), refined sugar free (they use coconut sugar, which has a deep, brown sugar-like flavor) and vegan (coconut oil in place of butter, and silken tofu in the glaze.)

    But seriously, everyone LOVED these. Even my dad and my friends who have a tendency to pick out anything “too healthy” tasting. And better yet, they are EASY. I was so worried but they come together so well. I actually mixed/kneeded my dough in the FP because I’m lazy and I think it does a good job. I also added mini chocolate chips to the filling, because, well, that’s obvious. Both times, I prepped everything the night before so I could simply pop them in the oven in the morning, and they turned out perfect. Just be careful with the glaze. And by that I mean make sure you save enough for your buns because you’re going to want to eat it all up with a spoon before they’re ready!

  • I’ve been wanting to make cinnamon buns forever but it never seems to make the cut. I feel like I should do a 30 by 30 list now so I have plenty of time:-)

  • Those look amazing! I’ve been wanting to learn how to make cinnamon rolls for ages, in fact, it was on my original 20 before 20 :-)
    Might have to now that you have too!

  • yep i think you’ll need to practice this one some more. let’s get it perfect next time i’m around, eh? just kidding.. they were yummy. ( just a little messy).
    the “final” pics look so pretty too :D
    good job!

  • My family makes “sticky buns”! I haven’t made them in years but they are soooo good! I think its just a classic betty crocker or pillbury recipe, although a lot of corn syrup in the “sticky” part. I do want to try the Flour ones.
    I think these still sound really good, but yes not exactly cinnamon buns. I have that cookbook too, really need to go through it more.

  • Aww, sorry they didn’t turn out, I’m glad they were still tasty enough to eat though and you didn’t have to throw them away! I’ve never made cinnamon rolls, although they’re also on my list :)

  • have you checked out my pumpkin cinnamon rolls from last year? i recently made them with sweet potato puree and then topped them with maple cream… holy amazing.

    http://tri2cook.blogspot.com/2010/10/pumpkin-cinnamon-rolls.html

    • Elina

      Ooh, I remember those. Will definitely keep them in mind for my next experiment (which will not be any time soon, to be honest – too much sugar). I dig the cinnamon roll stretch ;)

  • woohoo, my 30th birthday is only a bit over 3 months away — we must have birthdays close to each other. =) i debated making a 30 by 30 list, but since i haven’t done it yet, i think it might be a bit too late to get it done. maybe i’ll do a ’5 by 30′ list or something along those lines. =) your cinnamon buns looked like they turned out pretty nommy despite threatening to be a fail – good for you for persevering! i’ve made the pioneer woman’s cinnamon rolls which were good, but not my favorites. unrelated: i just saw your comment on my blog about the tortillas – it got accidentally spammed but i rescued it, + responded to it. =)

  • My mom used to make these all the time when I was a kids. The aroma was amazing, and we’d do anything she asked to make sure we got one fresh from the oven!

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