My first attempt at homemade cinnamon buns was a bit of a flop. I wanted to make a traditional recipe — the kind with a yeast dough that rises and produces a wonderfully tender and buttery roll laced with cinnamon — so I found this blue ribbon recipe on Epicurious, originally published in Bon Appetit. After reading over 150 favorable reviews, I had high hopes. I followed the recipe to a tee and the buns came out good, but not great. They also took forever to make — way longer than the recipe indicated. So, much as I enjoyed these little rolls, in my opinion, they were not worth the time and effort involved.
Back at square one, I went to my trusty resource, Cooks Illustrated, and found a recipe called “Quick Cinnamon Buns.” The rolls were indeed easy to make and, although they lacked the subtle tang that only comes from yeast, they were still very good. My only issue was that they were tooth-achingly sweet and a bit too rich, so the next time I cut back on the sugar and butter. After a few more modifications, I had the perfect cinnamon buns: light and tender on the inside, golden and caramelized on the outside and, best of all, quick to make. My family actually preferred the taste and texture to the more complicated yeast rolls.
Begin by making the filling, which is a combination of brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt and butter.
In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients for the dough. Note that it’s very important to measure the flour using the spoon and level method: spoon it into a measuring cup and level it off with the back edge of a knife. If you scoop it into the measuring cup, you will have too much flour and dry buns.
Transfer the dough to a work surface dusted with flour. Dust the dough lightly with flour and knead until the dough is smooth.
It will look like this.
Pat the dough into a small rectangle, then roll into a larger 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle.
Brush the dough with melted butter, then sprinkle the brown sugar topping evenly over top.
Press the filling into the dough, then roll into a log.
Then, cut the log into 9 pieces.
Lightly flatten the rolls with your hand to pack the filling in place, then arrange them in a 9-inch cake pan lined with buttered aluminum foil. Brush the rolls lightly with melted butter.
Then bake for about 25 minutes, until the rolls are golden brown. Use the foil overhang to transfer the rolls to a cooling rack. Let them sit about 5 minutes, then pull them apart.
Make the buttermilk glaze by mixing the buttermilk, cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar, then drizzle liberally over the buns.
These buns are best served warm out of the oven, but they can also be stored in an air tight container and reheated with excellent results. Enjoy!
My Recipe Videos
Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Glaze
For the Cinnamon Buns
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled off with knife, plus more for dusting work surface
- 1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1-1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
For the Glaze
- 1-1/2 tablespoons cream cheese
- 2 tablespoons low fat buttermilk
- 3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a 9-inch square cake pan with aluminum foil and brush with one tablespoon butter.
- Combine the brown sugar, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add one tablespoon melted butter and stir with a fork or fingers until the mixture resembles wet sand. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 tablespoons of the melted butter and buttermilk to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until the liquid is absorbed (the dough will be sticky and look shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead, lightly dusting more flour as necessary, until just smooth and no longer shaggy, about 30 seconds.
- Lightly dust the surface again. Pat the dough into a small rectangle, then roll into a 12-inch x 9-inch rectangle, dusting more flour sparingly if necessary so the dough doesn't stick to the rolling pin. Brush the dough with 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Sprinkle the dough evenly with the brown sugar filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Using your hand, press the filling firmly into the dough. Starting at the long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly, to form a tight log. (If the dough sticks to the surface, use a sharp knife or dough scraper to release it.) Pinch the seam to seal. Roll the log seam-side down and, using a serrated knife, cut it evenly into 9 pieces. Turn the pieces over on their flat sides, and slightly flatten each piece with your hand to seal the open edges and keep the filling in place. Place the rolls in prepared pan and brush with remaining tablespoon of butter. Bake until the edges are golden brown, 23-25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and buttermilk until thick and smooth (the mixture will look like cottage cheese at first). Add the confectioners' sugar and whisk until smooth glaze forms.
- When the buns are done, use the foil overhang to lift them out of the baking pan and onto a wire rack. Let cool for 5 minutes, then carefully separate the buns, using a knife if necessary. Drizzle the glaze evenly over the buns. Serve warm out of the oven, or store in airtight container and reheat.