Homemade Cinnamon Buns have an extra special flavor & texture thanks to a long slow rise. Top the warm buns with cream cheese frosting for an indulgent breakfast or brunch treat.
When you’re ready for a splurge, Cinnamon Buns topped with cream cheese frosting are what you want for breakfast. Cinnamony, sweet and creamy all in one delicious package.
Start the process the day before and all you have to do in the morning is preheat the oven and bake.
- All purpose flour has a medium protein content which is perfect for making this enriched dough. The dough has great elasticity so the buns can rise in the oven.
- Instant Yeast – I prefer instant yeast to rapid rise yeast for a slightly slower rise.
- Milk, Eggs, and butter enrich the dough for a soft and pillowy texture.
- Cream cheese makes a delicious tangy icing for the buns. Alternately, you can mix confectioner’s sugar with a little milk to make a glaze to drizzle over the buns (see recipe notes).
How to make Homemade Cinnamon Buns
- Combine the water and milk with the yeast.
- Add some of the flour and set the sponge aside for 30-60 minutes. While the sponge rests, the yeast will activate and the flour will absorb the water and begin forming gluten.
- Add the sugar, eggs and butter to the dough. Switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour.
- The dough will be sticky and shaggy after the flour is added.
- After kneading, the dough should clear the bowl and cling to the dough hook.
- Set the dough aside to rise until doubled in volume.
- Roll the dough to an 18″ x 16″ rectangle. Brush the dough with egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
- Roll the dough from the long end into a tight log.
- Pinch the seam closed.
- Mark off 1 1/2″ increments on the log.
- Slice the buns and place them into the prepared pan.
- Brush the buns with melted butter.
- Wrap the pan and set it in the refrigerator overnight. Alternately, you can leave the buns to rise at room temperature and bake the same day.
- In the morning take the pan out of the refrigerator and let it warm at room temperature while the oven preheats.
- Bake the buns until those in the middle are set.
- Make the cream cheese frosting while the buns are baking.
- Alternately, to make a glaze instead of cream cheese frosting combine 1 1/2 cups (6 oz) of confectioner’s sugar with 1/4 cup (2oz) of milk. Add a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla and stir until smooth. Drizzle the glaze over the warm buns.
How to work ahead to make Cinnamon Buns
This is naturally a work-ahead recipe since it’s left to rise overnight in the refrigerator.
You can work further ahead if you freeze the uncut log of dough. The dough can be frozen for up to a month. Defrost the log then proceed with the recipe.
Cinnamon Buns are filled with cinnamon and sugar and baked in a buttered pan. Cinnamon Buns are iced with cream cheese frosting or a sugar glaze.
Sticky buns are filled with cinnamon and sugar and baked on top of caramel and nuts. The caramel becomes the topping when the buns are flipped out of the pan.
You can skip the refrigeration step and just leave the buns to rise at room temperature and bake the same day.
Some of the sugar from the filling melts and leaks out during the rising time in the refrigerator. The sugar in the pan forms a nice gooey layer on the bottom of the buns as they bake. You can bake same day to avoid the sticky bottom.
Yes, you can freeze the log of bun dough and defrost and bake later. You can also freeze the baked buns. Store them in individual sandwich bags. Allow them to defrost then rewarm in the microwave or a low oven.
Cinnamon buns are best warm from the oven or within a few hours of baking. After a few hours or the next day they should be rewarmed in a low oven to refresh. Longer than a day they should be frozen.
Keep them at room temperature for a day or freeze for up to a month. Scoop leftover frosting into a sandwich bag and freeze with the uniced buns.
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Cinnamon Buns Recipe
- 6 oz warm water (¾ cup)
- 2 ¼ tsp instant dry yeast (1 packet)
- 8 oz whole milk (1 cup, scalded and cooled)
- 22 ½ oz unbleached all purpose flour (4 ½ cups)
- 3 oz sugar (⅓ cup)
- 2 oz unsalted butter (¼ cup, melted)
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 oz unsalted butter (¼ cup, melted)
- 8 oz brown sugar (1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1 egg for egg wash
Frosting (See note for alternate glaze)
- 2 oz unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 3 oz confectioner’s sugar (¾ cup)
- 2 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)
- In a mixer bowl combine the water, yeast, milk and 2 cups of the flour. Mix to form a thick batter. Cover the bowl and set aside to rise for at least 30 minutes.2 ¼ tsp instant dry yeast, 6 oz warm water, 8 oz whole milk, 22 ½ oz unbleached all purpose flour
- Add the sugar, melted butter, egg and salt then mix to combine. Change to the dough hook if using a stand mixer. With mixer on low add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time. The dough should be soft and elastic. Knead for 5 minutes. The dough will clear the sides of the bowl and gather on the hook. If mixing by hand continue mixing and then kneading in the flour by hand. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead into a smooth ball.3 oz sugar, 2 oz unsalted butter, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon table salt
- Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turning once to coat the dough. Cover the bowl and set it aside at room temperature until the dough doubles in volume, about 60 minutes.
- Generously brush a 9” x 13” baking pan with some of the melted butter, reserve the rest. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Turn the dough onto a floured surface without kneading out the air. Roll the dough to a 18" x 16" (46cmx41cm) rectangle. Generously brush the surface of the dough with egg wash. You should use almost 1/2 the egg wash to get a good coating so the cinnamon sugar will stick. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the egg washed dough. Use your hands to smooth out the cinnamon sugar to an even layer all the way to the edge of the dough.2 oz unsalted butter, 8 oz brown sugar, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 egg for egg wash
- Working from the long side, tightly roll the dough into a log, pinch the seam to seal. Straighten out the log so it's of even thickness and is 18" long (see note 1).
- Use a serrated knife to cut the log into twelve 1.5" (3.5cm) wide buns. Place the buns in the prepared pan. Generously brush the tops of the buns with the melted butter. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (see note 2).
- In the morning take the pan out of the refrigerator. They should be puffy and almost filling the pan. Leave the pan at room temperature while the oven preheats to 375 °F.
- Bake the buns until they're until golden brown and set in the center, 25-30 minutes.
- While the buns are baking, make the icing. Combine the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream until well combined. Add the cream cheese and whip until well aerated. Add the vanilla and optional lemon juice. The lemon juice will spark the flavor of the icing but it's ok to go without. (See note 3 if you prefer glaze to cream cheese frosting.)2 oz cream cheese, 2 oz unsalted butter, 3 oz confectioner’s sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- Remove the buns from the pan while they are still warm. Spread cream cheese icing generously over the buns as you serve them.
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