After many tries and adjustments, this is now my favorite cinnamon bun recipe, I hope you like it too. Add about 1 cup of chopped pecans or walnuts to the sugar mixture if you want nuts in your cinnamon buns.
Prep time: 3 hours rising time and prep.
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Yield: 36 small buns, 24 medium size buns, 12 large buns
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water- 105-115 degrees F-use a thermometer if you have one or if not just make sure the water is very warm but not too warm or you will kill the yeast and your dough won’t rise.
5 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons of salt
2 1/2 cups warm water- 90 degrees F
1/2 cup unsalted butter melted
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts- optional- I’m not using them.
Equipment: For 36 small buns like in the pictures, use one 9-inch square baking pan and one 9 x 13 baking pan, preferably non-stick but buttered works great.
1. Place the yeast and 1/4 cup of warm water(105-115 degrees F) in a small bowl and stir with a fork to dissolve the yeast. Allow it to stand for about 3 minutes.
2. Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl. Add the 2 1/2 cups warm water and the yeast mixture and stir with your fingers to moisten the flour, scraping the sides of the bowl and folding the dough over itself until it gathers into a shaggy mass.
3. Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it by hand for 5 minutes. This is a soft, moist dough. If the dough seems too stiff and hard to knead, add extra warm water 1 tablespoon at a time until you get a nice malleable dough.
4. Gently shape the dough into a loose ball, cover it with plastic, and let it rest on the table for 20 minutes. (This rest period is the autolyse.) Then gently knead the dough on the lightly floured surface for 1 to 2 more minutes, or until it becomes smooth, supple, and elastic but not too firm. The texture of the dough should be soft but springy. Shape the dough into a loose ball, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat the top with oil. Cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature (75 to 80 degrees F) until it has doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
5. While the dough is rising; in a small bowl melt the butter in the microwave for 2 minutes so that the butter is completely melted. Mix together the brown sugar, white sugar and cinnamon in another bowl. Mix in chopped nuts at this point if you want to use them.
6. Use 1 tablespoon softened butter to grease the pans.
7. When the dough has doubled, gently pour it out of the bowl onto the floured work surface. Flatten the dough and stretch it with your fingers to form a 24-inch by 6-inch rectangle, with a long side facing you. Work gently so you don’t tear the dough surface. The dough should stretch easily at this point, but if it resists, let it rest for 5 minutes and resume stretching. Check to be sure the dough isn’t sticking to the work surface; flour the table again, if necessary.
8. Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture generously and evenly over the butter, leaving the top 1/2-inch of the rectangle bare. Starting with the bottom edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll fashion into a long log. If the dough sticks to the table as you’re rolling, use a dough scraper to loosen it gently. As you are rolling up the dough, brush the underside of the dough surface with the melted butter and then sugar mixture until the dough is completely rolled up. At this point pinch gently but firmly along the seam to seal it. If necessary, gently shape the roll so it is a nice uniform log.
9. Cut the log of dough into 36 equal pieces. If you end up with 35 or 34 pieces it doesn’t matter, no big deal. (It’s easiest to mark the roll first to show where you’re going to make the cuts–a slight indentation with the knife edge will do–then use a sharp serrated knife to cut completely through the dough.)
10. Lay the pieces in the buttered dishes, don’t worry if it’s a tight fit. Sprinkle excess sugar over the top of the raw buns.
11. Let rise, loosely covered, at room temperature until the dough has almost doubled, about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.
12. The rolls should fill the pan when they are finished rising. In the meantime, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
13. Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees F, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake for 15 minutes longer, until the tops of the buns are golden brown and crusty. If you made the buns medium or large sized you will need to bake them for 10-15 minutes longer. It’s important to bake the buns long enough so the dough is cooked all the way through.
14. Set the pan of buns on a rack to cool for 5 minutes. Then quickly but carefully turn the pan upside down and release the cinnamon buns onto a large flat foil lined surface.
15. Let them cool until just warm before serving. Cool completely if you want to freeze them. Break them up into 8 or 10 piece sections and wrap them in tin foil and then place them in a large zip lock bag, seal and place them in the freezer. When you want to use the frozen buns, thaw for 1 hour. If you want to eat them warm, then place the thawed foil wrapped buns into the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees F.
16. If you are not freezing them, store any leftovers covered in plastic wrap at room temperature.