When I was about 11, I remember pulling out the Joy of Cooking cookbook to decipher recipes (often) and decide what to bake next. One recipe fail I recall rather vividly is the first time I ever made cinnamon buns.
It was an event. They were tough as rocks, sweet, and somehow edible to my family. I followed the recipe, and perhaps not paying attention to the time it takes to let dough ferment, or kneading the dough as little as possible to avoid too much gluten development and all that technical stuff I was naive to. I was a kid in the kitchen, standing barely above the counter level having a blast with a new recipe. No fear of failure, just pure excitement at the thought of baking amazing cinnamon buns. Who doesn’t love Cinnamon buns? Filled with a gooey cinnamon centre, and covered in that sweet cream cheese frosting. They are decadent and deadly.
Fast forward a couple decades, and I’ve learned a thing or two about bread making.
Now with this rainy weather in Vancouver, we could call it cinnamon bun season year round really. Despite spring being around the corner, today was a fairly cold day. I love this time of year.
In the winter months, it is my baking season and I love to test out new recipes and see how they work for me.
One coveted recipe on my list to try has been the UBC Cinnamon Bun recipe, which I found online last year. I have been meaning to test it for quite some time, after hearing other bakers rave about it. Finally I got down to business and made the recipe happen in my own kitchen.
here’s how i made the UBC cinnamon buns
The directions were easily followed and here’s what went down on my Friday night [in photos].
I’m down with this dough, but made some method tweaks…
The dough is very nice, smooth, soft and slightly sweet – it was an easy recipe to follow. I did make a few small switch ups in the method though, based on my own timeline.
I fermented the dough overnight and turned it into a two-day recipe.
Usually you can make cinnamon buns in the same day (it’s a long process though), and the UBC Cinnamon Bun recipe is no different. But because I had the inspiration on a Friday night. I decided to mix the dough, and rather than letting it rest to double in size at room temperature, I covered the dough and let it rise in the fridge overnight. The fridge slows down the yeast activity and delays the process. Below is the dough just before going into the fridge… it was dark in my kitchen. Good night sweet dough!
A trick to speed up thawing or proofing
The next morning, I pulled the dough out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature (takes a couple hours, depending on how warm your house is). To help speed up this process, I had turned on my oven to get a little heat in there (~200F for a few minutes), then turned it off and placed the bowl in the warm room temperature oven. Caution not to have the oven too hot, you don’t want to bake the dough, but I find it helps in a cold house to have a warm place like a slightly warm oven. You could do the same trick while making this recipe in one day, this warm space speeds up the fermenting and proofing steps, as it’s an enclosed space. Works well for me. You can also cover your bowl in a plastic bag on your counter or table, the plastic helps keep heat in.
Meanwhile, as the dough tempers (to room temp), I prepared the filling and baking trays, etc. I may have also turned on Gilmore Girls in the background. Just because I love to watch TV while baking, I like the background noise.
Yield is accurate: love that!
Accuracy of this recipe yield was spot on, the UBC Cinnamon Bun recipe accurately yields 18 large cinnamon buns. Amazing. I love when a recipe is accurate with their yield: nothing more annoying that a recipe that says it makes 4 dozen and you end up with 2.5 dozen, or something else. So, this cinnamon bun recipe is easy to make and follow, and you know what you’re going to get at the end.
TIP: use a ruler
I did use a ruler to cut the rolled dough though, so they were evenly 2″ in size, and I measured the initial rolled dough to the specs they listed in the recipe too. These are important steps to reach the forecasted yield.
I can see why this recipe is such a popular one in the baking grapevine.
Half the recipe (for 9 rolls) or double the filling.
One other change I would recommend making is cutting the recipe in half, especially if you are only wanting a few cinnamon buns…. Or if you’re headed for a big event, soldier on for 18! For the half recipe you just need a quarter sheet (approximately 8″x12″) pan, rather than a larger half sheet (2x quarter) pan. While halving the main recipe, I would DOUBLE the filling. It was barely enough. The cinnamon bun filling is the best part, that gooey cinnamon caramel goodness, it’s delicious. Go double on the filling, I promise you. I am planning to do this next time…. I guess that means this is a winner because I’m already thinking of when I’ll make them again!
The great raisin debate. To add or not to add inclusions…?
After a great raisin debate with my boyfriend, I agreed to include raisins. I’ve never been a huge fan, but the greatness of cinnamon buns has always trumped the raisin-annoyance for me. I know, raisin-lovers you can all unite in your love for them, but I don’t like how they get all puffy. I like raisins when they are dried and chewy, as they are meant to be: dried fruit.
Anyway, we were conservative with the raisin distribution and added 1/4 – 1/3 cup for a half batch of cinnamon buns. Then, all was well again in my kitchen.
ready for proofing, my little pretties!
After letting them proof at room temperature until doubled in size, the baking tie was near. What’s funny is that I don’t recall any of these steps when I made those rocks of cinnamon buns back when I was a kid, I’m glad I never gave up on my baking skills.
Tip: don’t give up. If your buns don’t look right, just compost and try again! It’s only dough.
Look what happens when you keep trying, you get perfectly proofed cinnamon buns, like these:
After a quick trip in the oven, the cinnamon buns were ready to retrieve. The instructions in the recipe mention inverting them right away, so the sticky side is up. I followed orders and this is what they looked like.
Sticky. Gooey. Cinnamon Bun Heaven.
Kick it up with cream cheese frosting all the way.
I just so happened to have some leftover cream cheese frosting in my supplies, and once they were cooled I had just enough for the tray. Great timing, yes, I know.
Well, sadly, the disappeared before I had a chance to photograph them with frosting. And by disappear, I mean some of them were eaten and some of them are tucked away in the freezer for emergency cravings.
In the end, I loved this recipe and would make them again, but definitely will double that filling.
Try the flavour switch up, get creative with the season.
I want to try using a chai spice blend in place of the cinnamon, and instead of raisins I might add some white chocolate chips. I’ve also seen some delicious fruit flavoured recipes, like adding chunks of apple would be so good, and pecans or walnuts. Cranberry and toasted pumpkin seeds with pumpkin spice instead of cinnamon. What about adding some berries or other fruits…
Well, I could go on, as I enjoy brainstorming new flavours and recipe alterations, but I’m going to leave it there.
Thanks UBC Alumni Blog for sharing the recipe!
This classic recipe is tried and true and the UBC Cinnamon Bun recipe is indeed one to keep in your recipe index – the kid in me approves.