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The following recipe is for Peter Reinhart’s Cinnamon Buns. It has much less fat content than what you’re probably used to, so the results more closely resemble a bun than something you would find at Cinnabon. Think bready, not gooey. Peter Reinhart uses lemon extract, and I use vanilla extract…just my preference.

Cinnamon Buns

Adapted from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”

Makes 8-12 large or 12-16 smaller buns

  • 6 1/2 tablespoons (3.25 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (2.75 ounces) shortening or unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons (.22 ounce) instant yeast
  • 1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups (9 to 10 ounces) whole milk or buttermilk, room temperature

Cinnamon Sugar Filling

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) cinnamon sugar (6 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon

1. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar, salt and shortening on medium-high speed. Whip in the egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low-speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook, and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough is tacky but not sticky. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to cover it with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.

2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

3. Mist the counter with spray oil, and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough with a rolling-pin, lightly dusting the top of the dough with flour. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough, and roll the dough up into a log, creating a spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 even pieces, each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns; or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

4. Line 1 or more sheet pans with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart.

5. Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size. (You could place the shaped buns in the refrigerator for up to two days, pulling the pans out of the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking to allow the dough to proof.)

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

7. Bake the buns for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

8. Cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes, and then glaze the tops. Remove the buns from the pans, and place them on a cooling rack. Wait at least 20 minutes before serving.

Glaze for Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns are usually topped with a thick white glaze called fondant. There are many ways to make fondant glaze, but here is a delicious and simple version, enlivened by the addition of citrus flavor, either lemon or orange. You can also substitute vanilla extract or rum extract, or simply make the glaze without flavorings.

Sift 4 cups of powered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract (I always use vanilla extract) and between 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.

When the buns have cooled but are still warm, streak the glaze over them by dipping the tines of a fork or a whisk into the glaze and waving the fork or whisk over the tops.

or you can use a Caramel Glaze

Caramel Glaze for Sticky Buns

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature.

Cream together for 2 minutes on high-speed with the paddle attachment. Add 1/2 corn syrup and 1 teaspoon of vanilla, extract. Continue to cream for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy.

Use as much of this as you need to cover the bottom of the pan with a 1/4-inch layer. Refrigerate and save any excess for the future use; it will keep for months in a sealed container.

Heat over medium heat till it turns to an amber color…not dark.

Carmel glaze is essentially some combination of sugar and fat, cooked until it caramelizes. The trick is catching it just when the sugar melts and lightly caramelizes to a golden amber. Then it will cool to a soft, creamy caramel. If you wait too long and the glaze turns dark brown, it will cool to a hard, crack-your-teeth consistency. Most sticky bun glazes contain other ingredients to influence flavor and texture, such as corn syrup to keep the sugar from crystallizing and flavor extracts or oils, such as vanilla or lemon. This version makes the best sticky bun glaze of any I’ve tried.

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