There’s a bakery about 20 minutes from my house that makes “the best” heavenly cinnamon buns. They are fluffy and sticky and gooey and delicious. They’re so fresh that when they wrap them they’re still warm. And if you’re not there to pick some up before 11 am then fuh-get-about-it! I’ve been trying to copy their recipe for years.
I have a really hard time when someone says that something is the best. Is it really the best? How do you know it’s the best? Maybe it’s the best you’ve ever tried but there are others out there. Maybe it’s the best in your opinion. Maybe, just maybe, it’s the best that is being offered at the moment. Do you see the slippery slope I’m sliding down?
But this recipe is pretty darn close to perfection. It may not be the best that’s out there but it’s the best recipe that I’ve been able to come up with so far. These cinnamon buns are fluffy and sticky and gooey and delicious and they are the best to me!
The amounts listed for the butter and brown sugar are approximate but don't be afraid of the butter and brown sugar because those two ingredients are what gives these cinnamon buns their stickiness! You're going to get dirty on this one.
3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons dry active yeast
6 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon salt
6 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
3 large eggs
7 - 7-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 1-1/2 cups butter, divided, softened
2 cups dark brown sugar, divided
3 - 6 tablespoons ground cinnamon
Turn your oven on and let the oven begin to heat up for 3 or 4 minutes then turn the heat off and leave the door closed. Warming the oven this way will give your dough excellent conditions for rising.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, add the warm water and sprinkle in 1 tablespoon of sugar and the yeast. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes your yeast mixture should have grown and become frothy. If it has not grown then your yeast is dead and you must start over with either a new batch of yeast or perhaps your water temperature was too hot and it accidentally killed the yeast. Either way, try again.
To the yeast mixture add 4 cups of flour, the remaining sugar, salt, oil, and eggs. Turn the mixer on low and mix until incorporated. Add 2 more cups of flour; mix again. Add 1 more cup of flour; mix again. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough is well combined. Continue mixing for several minutes. Your dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky and does not pull away from the sides, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour at a time until it begins to pull away. The dough should still be slightly sticky and not completely dry. (You can do these steps by hand like they used to before the invention of stand mixers but I'm lazy so I use the mixer.)
Transfer the dough to a well floured surface. Knead the dough with your hands for 50 to 75 turns. Be careful that you don't add too much flour to the dough. Just sprinkle the dough with flour as needed so that it doesn't stick to your hands.
Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, large bowl that will leave plenty of room for the dough to grow. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a tea towel and place it in the warmed oven. Do not turn the oven back on. Insert a wooden spoon or similar object in the oven door to prevent it from closing all the way. This will allow a small amount of the heat to escape. You don’t want to cook the dough but you want to ensure that it is just warm it enough for the dough to rise. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Once it has risen, punch it down, cover it again, and place it back in the oven to repeat the process. You do not need to "reheat" the oven.
Once the dough has risen a second time, remove the dough from the oven and set it aside while you prepare your baking dishes. Smear a generous amount (about 4 tablespoons per pan) of butter on the bottom and sides of three 8"x8" or 9"x9" glass baking dishes. You can also use 9"x13" baking dishes if that's what you have. Sprinkle 1/3 cup brown sugar on the bottom of each pan. Set the pans aside.
Divide the dough into three equal portions. This makes it easier to roll and will give you uniform sized buns. On a lightly floured surface, roll one portion into a rectangular shape measuring approximately 8" x 12". Spread 2 - 3 tablespoons of soft butter all over the dough. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1 - 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon. Beginning on the long side, roll the dough towards the opposite side. Once you reach the other side, pinch the end of the dough to the roll to form a seal. Use a sharp knife to cut straight down in the center of the roll. Cut each half in half again to form 4 equal sized rolls. Transfer the rolls to the pan, cover with a tea towel and set aside. Repeat on the remaining two portions of dough. Let the buns rest for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 F while the buns are resting. Bake each pan for 25 - 30 minutes or until golden brown. Once done, remove the buns from the oven and flip the pan over onto a parchment sheet. Let the gooey caramel from the bottom of the dish drip back onto the buns. Let cool.
If you have a stray hair growing out of your chin, will your friend…
a) Come at you with a pair of tweezers and yank it out while you’re not looking?
b) Discreetly tell you about it and then direct you to the nearest mirror?
c) Say nothing and watch it grow from week to week, month to month?
If you’ve sold your house and have to move within a month, will your friend…
a) Show up on your doorstep with boxes, bubble wrap, and coffee and get to work whether you’re ready or not?
b) Offer to help over the next couple of weeks when your schedules coincide?
c) Make excuses about being busy with kids, work, and chin hairs and stop answering the phone?
If you have a fight with your husband and are on the verge of tears, will your friend…
a) Take you out for a bottle of wine and let you vent for a bit, while secretly cutting off his favorite appendage in her mind?
b) Take your kids out to a movie for a few hours while you and your husband work things out?
c) Go out for coffee with your husband?
If a loved one passes away, will your friend…
a) Come over with dinner, bathe your kids, do your laundry, and envelop you in hugs and love?
b) Offer to help out by baking or serving coffee following the service?
c) Show up to the funeral and then duck out the back door just before it is over?
If you bought a new dress that shows way more cleavage than you’re used to but makes you feel fabulous, will your friend…
a) Give you a high five for stepping out of your comfort zone?
b) Praise you for your efforts and then offer to fix it so you’re more comfortable?
c) Borrow the dress and never return it?
If your friends are…
These friends are definite keepers. They know what you need without you ever having to say anything. They are true to themselves and to you. They will not sugar coat anything to spare your feelings but will always be truthful and honest with you. They are 100% invested in your relationship and they are fiercely protective. You may fight and hurt each other from time to time, but you know that you can count on each other and you can get through anything together. Your friendship will run deep and can last a lifetime.
These friends are steady and true. They are nurturing and like a mother, will sometimes stand back until you really need them to step in. They will always offer a safe place where you can be yourself and they will love you unconditionally. These friends are always aware of your feelings, but are not afraid to voice their opinion. Your friendship is based on mutual trust, love, and understanding and will always be treasured in your heart.
This friend is no friend at all. Run, don’t walk.
Thankfully I have great friends, like Aaron and Gail, who will let me go and pick all the cherries that I want off their cherry tree. Thank you.
If you have a few extra sour cherries, cut them up and throw some into the biscuit dough before baking. Mmmm!
For The Sour Cherry Jam
4 cups pitted sour cherries, fresh or frozen
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 box (57g) powdered fruit pectin
5 cups granulated sugar
For The Chocolate Chip Biscuits
2 cups flour, plus additional for dusting the board
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup lard
1 large egg, lightly whisked
2/3 cup milk
1 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips
1-1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons coarse sugar (optional)
For The Sour Cherry Jam
Add the pitted sour cherries to a large pot. Begin cooking the fruit over medium-high heat, and use a potato masher to gently mash the fruit, leaving some of the cherries in large pieces. Stir in the butter and almond extract. Once the butter has melted, stir in the powdered fruit pectin. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Add all of the sugar at once and mix well. Bring the fruit back up to a boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and scrape off any foam with a metal spoon.
Return to a full boil. Boil hard for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and skim off foam with a metal spoon.
Ladle the hot jam into sterilized half pint jars, leaving 1/4″ head space. Wipe the jar rims and add the lids. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Remove the jars and cool on wire racks.
For The Chocolate Chip Biscuits
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add the lard and using a pastry cutter, or two knives, gently cut in the lard until it resembles coarse oatmeal.
Add the lightly whisked egg and milk, and use a fork to combine most of the wet and dry ingredients together. Stir in the chocolate chips. Do not over mix. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and use your hands to shape it into a flattened disk shape. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 3/4" thick.
Cut out biscuits with a floured cookie cutter that is about 2" diameter. Do not twist the cookie cutter when cutting out the biscuits, instead, go straight down and then straight back up. This will ensure that your biscuits rise up when baking.
Place the biscuits on the parchment lined baking sheet and brush the tops with melted butter. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes.