This recipe will give you a tray of homemade cinnamon rolls that boast a rich and sticky glaze, a moist, doughy interior, and flaky crust, topped with a luscious cream cheese icing. This recipe is a cross between my beloved Candied Pecan and Dark Chocolate Cinnamon Rolls and my Pumpkin Caramel Loaf with Cinnamon Streusel.
As the days grow shorter, and the Autumn air chills there's no better time to whip up the best cinnamon rolls you’ll ever make. What’s more, the dough for these fluffy rolls can be prepped the night before, saving you time and effort – but more on that later.
If you've been scouring the web for the perfect cinnamon roll recipe, trust me when I say that your quest ends here. This awesome recipe promises to send the sweet smells of cinnamon wafting through your home, capturing the essence of fall in every bite. So, let's embark on a delectable journey into the world of honey buns and sticky bun recipes that will have your whole family eagerly gathering around the kitchen table.
The best part about these cinnamon buns, apart from their irresistible taste, is their incredible versatility. These warm, gooey delights are more than just a type of dessert; they're a comforting hug on a plate. The first things that come to mind when enjoying them are cozy breakfasts, lazy weekend mornings, and the delightful aroma that fills your kitchen as they bake to a golden perfection.
But here's a simple tip to elevate your experience even further: consider pairing these perfect cinnamon rolls with a steaming mug of pumpkin spice coffee. The warmth of the coffee complements the sweetness of the buns, creating a delicious portrait of autumnal flavors.
Whether you're savoring them fresh out of the oven or reheating them the next morning, cinnamon buns are a treat that never goes out of season. With different recipes and a touch of personal preference, you can create the ultimate cinnamon bun experience for yourself and your loved ones. So, let's dive into this fantastic recipe that will not only fill your home with the irresistible scent of cinnamon but also your hearts with warmth and comfort.
Get ready to discover why these cinnamon buns are the ultimate fall indulgence. Read on for a full ingredient checklist, tips for prepping the dough, and my five key tips for culinary success.
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Cinnamon Bun vs Sticky Bun – What’s the Difference?
Sticky buns and cinnamon buns, often referred to interchangeably as sweet rolls, are beloved pastries that have become a hallmark of autumn breakfast tables, seasonal bakeries, and grocery stores. While they share some similarities, they have distinct characteristics that set them apart, making each a delightful treat in its own right.
The main difference between sticky buns and cinnamon buns lies in their toppings and glazes. Sticky buns are known for their gooey, caramel glaze that coats the top and sides of the pastry, creating a sticky, sugary delight. This glaze typically includes ingredients like brown sugar, butter, and sometimes pecans or walnuts, resulting in a golden brown and intensely sweet final product. In contrast, cinnamon buns are characterized by their cream cheese frosting, which is often drizzled generously over the top. This cream cheese icing provides a tangy contrast to the sweet cinnamon filling and creates a creamy, indulgent finish. While both sticky buns and cinnamon buns are delightful, the major differences in their toppings give each a unique flavor profile.
Another notable distinction is the filling. Cinnamon buns, as the name suggests, are defined by their aromatic and flavorful cinnamon swirls that run through the layers of soft dough. This cinnamon filling infuses the entire bun with a warm, spicy aroma and taste, making them a popular choice for cozy breakfasts, especially on Christmas morning. On the other hand, sticky buns often feature a rich, honey or maple syrup-infused filling that not only sweetens the dough but also contributes to the sticky, caramelized texture. This variation in filling creates a contrast in flavor and texture between the two pastries.
In summary, while both sticky buns and cinnamon buns are irresistible sweet rolls, the major differences in their toppings, with sticky buns favoring a caramel glaze and cinnamon buns adorned with cream cheese icing, give each its distinct character. Additionally, the choice of filling, whether it's the warm and spicy cinnamon swirls of the cinnamon buns or the honey or maple syrup-infused goodness of sticky buns, further sets these pastries apart. Whichever you prefer, both are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth and make any morning a delightful one.
Why You’ll Love These Cinnamon Buns
- Gooey Caramelized Top: These buns are topped with a rich, gooey caramel glaze that adds an indulgent touch. The golden-brown glaze is the crowning glory that makes each bite heavenly.
- Creamy Cream Cheese Frosting: The cream cheese icing drizzled over the top of these buns adds a creamy, slightly tangy contrast to the sweetness of the cinnamon filling. It's a match made in dessert heaven.
- Versatile Delight: Whether served fresh from the oven or reheated the next morning, these Cinnamon Buns are a versatile treat that's perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even as a sweet snack.
- Make-Ahead Friendly: The dough can be prepared ahead of time, allowing you to enjoy the convenience of freshly baked buns without early morning preparation.
- Pairing Perfection: These buns pair wonderfully with a cup of pumpkin spice coffee as a coffee cake, creating a delightful harmony of flavors that will make your morning extra special. Whether paired with ice cream, whipped cream, or even as a side to breakfast favorites, these cinnamon buns are sure to please.
- Customizable: While the recipe provides the perfect base, you can customize these Cinnamon Buns to your liking by adjusting the sweetness, adding nuts – such as pecans – or raisins, or experimenting with different spices.
- Holiday Favorite: The warm, spicy aroma of these buns makes them a perfect choice for holiday mornings, particularly Christmas, when you want to create a cozy and festive ambiance.
- Family Favorite: These cinnamon buns are a treat the entire family will love, and are sure to become a household favorite, bringing everyone together around the table.
Ingredient Checklist – Everything You’ll Need
Ingredients for Dough: Wet Ingredients and Dry Ingredients
- 2¼ teaspoons yeast
- Note: Use active dry or instant yeast. Ensure it's fresh for the best results.
- Tip: Proof the yeast to ensure it's active by dissolving it in warm water with sugar.
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- This is for proofing the yeast.
- 1 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F.)
- Ensure the water is not too hot to avoid killing the yeast.
- 6 tablespoons melted butter
- While I’m using unsalted butter, feel free to substitute in salted butter if you prefer, or if that’s all you have on hand.
- Vegan Butter. Yes, your favorite vegan butter (plant based butter) works just fine in this recipe.
- 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
- Adds a subtle pumpkin flavor; you can omit it if desired.
- 1 extra-large egg
- Use a large egg if an extra-large one isn't available.
- 4½ cups all-purpose flour
- Measure how much flour your using carefully; you may need a bit more for kneading.
- 1/3 cup sugar
- Adjust the sugar to taste; you can use less if you prefer less sweetness.
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Enhances the flavor; you can adjust to taste.
Ingredients for Filling:
- 4 tablespoons melted butter
- Here again, while I’m using unsalted butter, salted will work just fine if you prefer.
- Vegan Butter. Once again, your favorite vegan butter will work just fine.
- ¼ cup dark brown sugar
- Adds a rich molasses flavor.
- 1/8 cup cane sugar
- Provides additional sweetness; you can use regular granulated sugar.
- 1½ teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
- This variety of cinnamon has a bold, sweet flavor.
Icing & Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- Ensure the cream cheese is softened for a smooth icing.
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- Whole milk makes a creamier icing; you can use any milk you prefer.
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Adds a rich, aromatic flavor.
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- Adjust the amount for desired sweetness and thickness of the icing.
- 3 tablespoons cane sugar
- For the cinnamon sugar topping; granulated sugar can be used.
- 1 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon
- Ceylon cinnamon works fine as well. Don’t fret over the type of cinnamon your using, it’s all delicious.
Additional Notes and Tips:
- When working with yeast, make sure the water is at the correct temperature to activate it properly. Too hot or too cold water can affect the dough's rise.
- Browning the butter for the filling adds a nutty and richer flavor to the cinnamon buns.
- For the dough, allow it to rise in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size. The oven with the light on can be a suitable place for this.
- While rolling out the dough, use a lightly floured surface to prevent sticking.
- When slicing the rolled dough into individual buns, a sharp knife or dental floss can make clean cuts.
- To prevent the cinnamon buns from drying out while rising, cover them with plastic wrap and a towel.
- Adjust the icing's consistency by adding more milk for a thinner icing or more confectioner's sugar for a thicker one.
- The cinnamon sugar topping adds an extra layer of sweetness and flavor to the buns.
Bonus Tip: Prep Ahead – Overnight Dough
If you’re short on time, you can prep the dough the night before. Start by following the recipe up to the point where you've prepared the dough and allowed it to rise for the first time. This includes mixing the ingredients, kneading the dough, and placing it in a bowl to rise. After the first rise, instead of proceeding with shaping, second rise, and baking the buns immediately, shape the dough into a ball and place it in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent the dough from drying out or forming a skin. Place the covered bowl with the dough in the refrigerator. The cold temperature will slow down the yeast's activity, allowing you to refrigerate the dough overnight without it over-proofing. The following morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. This helps make the dough easier to work with.
5 Tips for Success
- Active Yeast Check: Ensure your yeast is active and fresh. To do this, proof the yeast in warm water with a pinch of sugar as the recipe instructs. You should see it become foamy and bubbly within about 10 minutes. If not, your yeast may be inactive, and you should replace it before proceeding.
- Kneading the Dough: When kneading the dough, it's essential to achieve the right consistency. The dough should be soft, elastic, and slightly tacky, but not overly sticky. If it's too dry, add a bit more warm milk or water. If it's too sticky, add a touch more flour. Proper kneading ensures a light and airy texture in the final buns. Caution: As with all dough, you do not want to overwork it, as this will result in hard, dry buns.
- Rising Time: Be patient during the rising process. Let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, which typically takes about two hours. You can create an ideal environment by placing the dough in a warm, draft-free spot. Preheating your oven to a low temperature (around 170°F) and then turning it off before placing the dough inside can work well for this purpose.
- Rolling the Dough: When rolling out the dough, make sure it's evenly rolled, with no thick or thin spots. This not only helps to ensure evening baking, but also helps to ensure that the filling is distributed uniformly, resulting in consistently flavored cinnamon buns.
- Icing Consistency: Adjust the cream cheese icing to your preferred consistency. If it's too thick, add a bit more milk; if it's too thin, incorporate more confectioner's sugar. Having the right icing consistency makes drizzling or spreading it on the buns much easier and gives them that perfect finishing touch.
Recommended Kitchen Gadgets
These buns do ‘not’ require specialized tools or gadgets. However, to be sure you have everything you need, here’s my shortlist for the basic kitchen essentials that you’ll need to make this recipe.
- Mixing Bowls: You'll need mixing bowls to combine and prepare various ingredients, including the dough and filling.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements are crucial for baking, so you'll need measuring cups and spoons to measure ingredients like flour, sugar, and spices.
- Small Saucepan: To melt the butter and pumpkin puree for the dough, and possibly to brown the butter for the filling.
- Whisk: A sturdy whisk is essential for mixing and emulsifying ingredients, especially when preparing the pumpkin butter mixture.
- Dough Hook: If you have a stand mixer, a dough hook attachment can make kneading and mixing the dough more convenient. However, you can also knead the dough by hand if you prefer.
- Rolling Pin: To roll out the dough into a 14x8 rectangle during the assembly process.
- Sharp Knife: A simple paring knife. To slice the rolled dough into individual buns cleanly and evenly.
- Baking Dish: You'll need a lightly greased baking pan to arrange and bake your homemade cinnamon buns.
- Plastic Wrap and Towel: To cover the buns during their rising time, ensuring they don't dry out.