Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Amazing Cinnamon Buns

I love buns. Particularly cinnamon buns. And I haven't been able to find any that I really like around here. Sure, there is Cinnabon. But they are ridiculously expensive, and there is something dodgy about them. I just don't like the flavour. But I stumbled across this Cinnabon copycat recipe on Pinterest, and thought it looked quite yummy. The original recipe also has some really good pictures of the whole baking process, so head over there to take a look if you are not a seasoned bun maker. 

I made a few small changes to the original recipe. It used margarine for the bun filling and frosting, but I would obviously never use that stuff in my kitchen. I also added some cardamom to the filling. For a Finn, you can't have buns without cardamom. The other changes I made was using instant yeast instead of active yeast. That way I can skip the step of activating the yeast. And finally, I still don't have a kitchen aid, so I did all my dough kneading by hand. One happy day I will have a shiny and lovely dough kneading machine, but that won't happen until I win the lottery. 

I was afraid the buns would be a bit of a disaster as I didn't have any strong flour, but was forced to stick with all purpose. With any yeast dough that needs to be kneaded, I have grown to realise strong flour will make the dough easier to work. But this time all purpose seemed to do the trick just fine. I also ended up giving the buns quite a long rise before popping them into the oven because of how the whole day turned out, and I think that did the buns good. 

I apologise for the even crappier than usual photos on this one, as I didn't have my camera with me when baking. But as I found this recipe so perfect, I couldn't let the lack of decent photos stop me from blogging about it. Also, head over to the original recipe here for impressive photos of these doughy lovelies.

Cinnamon buns (makes 12-15):
3/4 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 1/2-5 cups flour

1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cup muscovado sugar
2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom

60 g cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tbsp corn syrup (I didn't have corn syrup so I used golden syrup, not quite sure what the difference is)
1 tsp lemon juice (I used a bit more, probably 2-3 tsp)
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
The howto:
Start by preparing the dough. Mix water and yeast. Add the sugar and salt. Mix buttermilk, egg and oil in another bowl and add to the to the yeast mixture (or if you are lazy like me, just add buttermilk, egg and oil directly to the yeast mixture). Start by adding about half of the flour, and then add about half a cup at a time until the dough doesn't stick to the bowl anymore and is easy to handle but still soft. Knead the dough for about five minutes and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (1-2 hours, I let mine rise for 1h and 20 minutes). While the dough is rising, prepare your oven proof tin for the buns. You can butter the bottom of the tin, or use a (buttered) sheet of parchment paper. I just dumped the buns straight onto my Le Creuset ovenproof pan without any butter and, apart from some butter sticking to the bottom, had no problems.

When the dough is almost done rising, prepare the filling. Mix sugar, cinnamon, corn starch and cardamom in a bowl. Punch the air out of the dough, and roll to a 20x30 in (50x75 cm) rectangle. Spread the softened butter over the dough, leaving about 1 inch (2.5 cm) at the bottom unbuttered. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on top, and press into the butter using your hands. Roll into a tight log, and cut into desired number of rolls. I read a tip in a food blog somewhere suggesting you use dental floss to cut your buns. I finally tried this trick, and got the prettiest buns I have ever managed to produce. Place buns in your pan, and let rise for at least an hour, but you can even leave them in the fridge over night and then let them rise the following day. The original recipe says to bake in 175 degrees C (350 degrees F) for about 17 minutes. I was dealing with the temperamental oven at the Culinary Consultant's place, so I baked mine for a bit longer.

While the buns are baking, prepare the frosting. Start by whipping together the cream cheese and softened butter. Add vanilla, lemon juice and syrup and mix. Finally, add the icing sugar and whisk for about five minutes until the frosting starts to lighten in colour. After removing your buns from the oven, immediately spread half of the frosting on top of the buns. It will partly melt and drip into the buns. After the buns have cooled for a while, frost with the remaining frosting. 

The verdict:
As I already mentioned, I just don't like Cinnabons. There is something strange about their flavour, something artificial. Sure, they are lovely and gooey, but every time I have one, after taking the first bite I am reminded why I don't quite like them. So I can honestly say, to me these buns were so much better than Cinnabons. They were like I want Cinnabons to taste. They were absolute perfection. The filling of the buns was lovely and sweet, and the frosting is so addictively delicious. I have to admit the buns disappeared very quickly. The following day I just popped them into the microwave for about 20 seconds to get them lovely, warm and gooey again. This recipe will definitely go into the keepers file. I can't wait for an excuse to make them again.

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