Cinnamon buns are one of my absolute favourite treats to eat and to make! I know it's not everyone's favourite thing to do, but I love kneading bread dough, and knowing that it will soon fill my house with the smell of homemade bread and cinnamon makes it even better. My love for cinnamon buns was definitely passed down from my father, who is a cinnamon bun fiend. I made a double batch of these for the whole family as soon as I got home from university for the holiday break and in three days we have gone from three big pans of them to one, so I would say that they were well received! The dough is super light and flaky, and bursting with lots of ooey, gooey cinnamon sugar. The drizzle of cream cheese icing provides the perfect tangy and sweet finish. The entire recipe itself takes only a little over an hour from start to finish, so you don't need to spend hours in the kitchen waiting for your dough to rise. These also freeze very well, so if you double the batch you can wrap and freeze a whole pan to heat up and serve later.
I know it is a big tradition for many family's to have cinnamon buns on Christmas morning - so if you are looking for a good recipe to make this year then I would definitely recommend these ones! If you are planning to make these for Christmas morning and don't want to be fussing with a recipe as soon as you wake up, then you could make them the night before and leave them in the fridge to do a cool rise, and simply pop them in the oven to bake in the morning.
3/4 cup 2% milk
4 Tbsp. butter or margarine, room temperature
3 and 1/4 cups white bread flour, divided use - You can use all-purpose flour if you don't have bread flour on hand
1 package instant yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup water
1 large egg
1 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup margarine, softened but not melted - You could also use butter here, but I find that using margarine for the cinnamon bun filling makes the dough more flaky and light and keeps the filling more gooey, because butter gets absorbed into the dough too easily while baking.
Cream Cheese Icing Ingredients:
This will make enough to generously top your cinnamon buns, but double this recipe if you like them with lots and lots of cream cheese icing!
2-3 Tbsp. cream cheese, room temperature - Use more or less depending on how sweet or tangy you want the icing to be
2 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
1/2 heaping cup icing sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. milk
In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat until it bubbles. Remove from heat and stir in the butter until it is melted. Set aside and allow this mixture to cool until it is lukewarm.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your electric mixer with the dough hook attachment on, mix together 2 and 1/4 cups of the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt until combined. Stir in the water, egg, and milk mixture and continue to mix until incorporated. Add the remaining 1 cup of flour, 1/2 cup at a time, into the bowl, stirring well after each addition. When the dough just starts to come together, turn it onto a floured surface and knead it until it is very smooth and not sticky, 5-10 minutes. If you find the dough too sticky and hard to work with then just flour a little bit at a time.
Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a hot, damp tea towel. Allow it to rest in a warm, draft-free place for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and softened margarine until well combined and smooth.
With a floured rolling pin, roll out the dough onto a floured surface until it is a 12x9" rectangle. Spread the prepared filling mixture evenly over the dough.
Tightly roll up the dough into a log, starting to roll at the widest edge of the rectangle. Pinch the seam together to seal it.
With a serrated knife, evenly cut the dough log into 10 or 12 rolls.
Lightly grease a rectangular pan or two round pans with butter or margarine. Place the rolls cut side up into the prepared pans, leaving a few inches of space between each roll to allow for expansion during their second rise and baking. Cover with a tea towel and let the cinnamon buns rise in a warm area until they have doubled in size, about 30 minutes. If your kitchen is drafty or cold, you can turn your oven on for a few minutes just until it gets a little bit warm inside, then place the covered pans in the oven with the door slightly ajar.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Once the cinnamon buns have finished rising, bake them in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. To test for doneness, insert a butter knife into the centre of one cinnamon bun and check if the dough has baked all the way through.
While they are baking, prepare the cream cheese icing by creaming together the cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer in a medium bowl. Add in the vanilla, icing sugar and milk, and continue to mix until smooth. Adjust the consistency of the icing by adding in more milk to make it thinner or more icing sugar to make it thicker.
Once the cinnamon buns come out of the oven, allow them to cool for 5-10 minutes, then drizzle the prepared icing over them using a spoon or a butter knife.
Store cinnamon buns covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator. You can also wrap them in plastic wrap and aluminum foil to freeze. I highly recommend serving them warm!