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.
My son started his first job this week. It’s a sucky job, but I’m sure everyone’s first job is sucky. I mean, my first job was cleaning houses for friends of my parents. It was Saturday mornings. Strike one. The pay was awful. Strike two. And I had to clean toilets. Strike three. To this day I HATE cleaning toilets. But it was my first real job.
Of course I’ve had a multitude of crappy jobs since that one but I think that’s par for the course. It’s part of growing up. Figuring out what you want and don’t want to do for the rest of your life. And there’s nothing like cleaning toilets to figure that one out real quick.
So he came home from his first day completely stressed out and feeling lost and overwhelmed and looking in the pantry for comfort. His go to comfort food happens to be cereal. Not just any cereal, it has to be sugar-laden, teeth rotting French Toast Crunch drowning in copious amounts of 2%.
So, like any good mother, I stocked the pantry with two boxes this week. I most definitely remember my first job.
Quick And Easy Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Coffee Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
This coffee cake lives up to its name - Quick and Easy! And it's so deliciously tasty they'll never know that it all started with a cake mix!
1 box vanilla cake mix (any brand)
1 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Use butter or cooking spray to grease and and then lightly flour a bundt pan. Set it aside.
With an electric mixer, beat together the cake mix with the water, vegetable oil, whole eggs, egg yolk, flour, and vanilla until the batter is smooth. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder, and espresso powder.
Pour 1/3 of the batter into the bundt pan. Sprinkle half of the cocoa sugar mixture over the batter. Pour another 1/3 of batter over the cocoa sugar mixture. Sprinkle the other half of the cocoa sugar mixture and then pour the remainder of the batter to cover.
Use a knife to swirl the batter and sugar mixture by inserting the knife into the cake and turning the knife before pulling up. Repeat all the way around the cake.
Bake the cake for 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool before turning it out.