These cinnamon buns are the best at-home, closest-to-cinnabon, I have ever tasted! The smell of a warm cinnamon bun is intoxicating and would sell any house over chocolate chip cookies. I can see why there are so many candles attempting to replicate the scent. These cinnamon buns are tender and swirled with plenty of cinnamon goo. If you weren’t already salivating, it’s slathered in a creamy, tangy, cream cheese frosting. Sure to make the family happy or be the talk of brunch.
I looked over many recipes because they all look tasty in their own ways but can tell you from all the research and experimenting, they are deceptively not all created equally. I have seen some with icing that looks really thick, likely from a heavier cream cheese ratio, and some that ends up looking see-through and runny, possibly from using a higher milk ratio. It could be a personal preference but I like a cinnamon bun where I can see evidence of a cinnamon filling – too light and I’m not interested.
I decided to trust my hungry gut and go with Christina Tosi’s Cinnamon Bun recipe from her Milk Bar Life cookbook. Truly my favorite chef, her recipes and creations are some of the most creative, inspiring, and achievable in the public eye. I have all her cookbooks to date, tried many recipes, and just totally fallen down the Tosi-Milk Bar-hardbody rabbithole. If you’re more of a savory cook, check out the pickle juice poached fish for another stroke of Milk Bar Life genius.
Obviously I felt no shame in trusting this cinnamon bun recipe among the slew out there, especially after testing the cinnamon bun pie recipe from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. This recipe does the filling and icing justice without being overly sweet. It is one of the only recipes I have seen that incorporates salt in the filling and icing as well as the dough. You will not be disappointed and all cinnamon bun cravings are sure to be satisfied!
This is one of those recipes I recommend reading through at least once in entirety before attempting so you fully understand the process and timing requirements, as there are two rise periods. You must give these the proper time to rise and double in size or they won’t be the perfect fluffy size. We started these a little later in the day and checked them after the hour rise time to see if we could go ahead and bake them (hoping to dig in that night) but they had not quite doubled in size and I wanted to do them justice. I made the tough call to put them in the fridge overnight and bake first thing in the morning and am glad we gave them their time to rise because it was worth it.
I had the intention to make the full batch and freeze some after baking but…quickly decided after tasting that there would be no point. They are too irresistible to last long and it is hard not to keep going back for more. These scrumptious cinnamon buns have the perfect filling ratio to tender dough and covered in a delectable cream cheese frosting. It is completely worth the process and no one will be able to stop raving about them long after the last plate has been licked clean of remaining cinnamon filling and cream cheese frosting.
Cinnamon BunsCourse: BreakfastDifficulty: Intermediate
1 cup whole milk, warm
1 tablespoon warm water
1 packet (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
4 ½ cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for dusting
½ cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
5 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- Whisk the warm milk, water, and yeast together in a small bowl. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes or so.
- Combine the flour, granulated sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and mix together on low speed. Add the egg, egg yolk, butter, and yeast concoction and mix until the dough comes together as a thick, sticky mass. This should take about 6 minutes.
- Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out onto a work surface and form it into a smooth ball. Put the dough ball into a greased bowl, seam side down, cover it with a kitchen towel, and set in a draft-free spot to rise for an hour, or until it’s doubled in size.
- While the dough is rising, make the filling by mixing together the brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.
- Punch down the proofed dough and put it onto a well-floured counter. Use a rolling pin (I prefer this marble version to keep the dough cold and reduce sticking) to roll into a 16 inch square. Spread the cinnamon filling evenly over the surface, then roll the dough tightly into a big tube, making sure to keep all the filling inside.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the tube into 12 rounds, each about 1 ⅓ inches thick. Arrange the rounds cut side down in a 9×13 inch baking dish, leaving 1 inch between them. Let them rise for another 1-2 hours, until they’ve doubled in size. *See notes for overnight instructions.
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until they are just starting to brown on the edges.
- Meanwhile, make the cream cheese frosting: Combine the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on high for 1 minute. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and salt and paddle on low to combine, then whip on high for 2 minutes, or until the frosting is pale white and fluffy.
- Remove buns from the oven and, while they are still warm, spread the frosting generously over them. Serve immediately and munch on!
- Overnight Instructions – Prep through step #6 but let them rise, loosely covered, in the fridge overnight. Then all you have to do is take them out in the morning and let them come to room temp for about half an hour before baking in the oven.
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