Posted by Colin
I’m kind of particular about cinnamon buns, as I suppose we all are. I mean, I’ll eat anything, but there are very few cinnamon buns in the world that I think are getting it exactly right. They’re mostly too doughy and dry. Like buns rather than pastries. Anyway, top of the list for me is the cinnamon bun at Solly’s Bagelry in Vancouver. It’s the best ever. Many coils of thin, moist pastry, tons of cinnamon, no raisins or nuts or frosting to clutter it up.
After several years of casual searching, I’ve finally stumbled upon a recipe that approximates those wonderful Solly's buns without requiring a lot of effort or ingredients I don't always have on hand. 3 or 4 tries and I can basically whip these up the night before a Sunday brunch without even thinking about it.
I've adapted it minimally and altered the instructions somewhat, but this recipe is from the beautiful Vancouver blog Climb Eat Cycle Repeat.
(makes 8 buns)
3 cups (400g) all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2½ tsp (10g) instant (quick-rise) yeast
300ml milk, warmed in the microwave
¼ cup (60g) butter, melted
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp white sugar
2 Tbsp cinnamon (I like a combination of Vietnamese and Indonesian)
2 Tbsp butter, melted
7 Tbsp (100g) butter
½ cup dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
4 Tbsp water
For the dough:
- Combine the flour, sugar, and salt, and quickly sift together with a fork.
- Add the instant yeast, warm milk, and melted butter.
- Knead until the dough is smooth and clean but not sticky. You’ll probably need extra flour to get to this point. Start with the 3 cups but be prepared to add at least ½ cup more than that. At some point, you’ll be able to take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a lightly-floured counter.
- Place the dough back in a clean, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Inside the oven works great. I often pre-heat it to the lowest setting and then turn it off when I start making the dough. By the time you’re putting the dough in it, it should be warmer than the room but not at all hot.
For the filling:
- Mix together the brown sugar, white sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- Melt the butter when you’re ready to roll out the dough.
For the goo:
- In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar, maple syrup, and water. Stir until combined. This mixture will be fairly thin – not at all gooey yet.
To assemble the cinnamon buns:
- On a lightly floured counter, roll the dough into a very long, narrow rectangle (approx. 12” x 30”). This step is crucial – you’ll want to do some tugging and stretching to get it just right. The more regular and square-cornered you can get it, the better.
- Brush on the melted butter, and sprinkle on the cinnamon-sugar mixture, making sure you get both right to the edges. Especially to the edges! Whoever gets the end pieces (not you!) always feels a little shafted anyway, so the least you can do is make sure they get lots of delicious filling.
- Roll the dough up as tightly and squarely as you can (without squishing it). Pinch to seal the edge.
- Slice the dough into 8 equal pieces using a damp, sharp knife. Start in the middle and keep dividing in two to ensure equal slices!
- Pour the thin goo mixture into the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking pan. Place the rolls into the pan on top of the goo. A good trick here is to put the two end pieces upside-down so that the irregular edge is flattened by its own weight. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or proof back in your warm spot until completely risen (a couple hours). If you are refrigerating overnight, take the buns out an hour before baking to bring them up to room temperature.
- When you’re ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 375°F. Remove the plastic and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are a light golden brown.
- Let cool for a few minutes, and then invert the buns onto a sheet of parchment.
- Invite everyone in the house to attack them like the Bumpus’ dogs.