Ultimate Cinnamon Buns

August 14, 2011

The last time I made these Cinnamon Buns was December 29, 2009; two days before I started this blog; and my oldest son has been begging me to make them again. The dough is rich and buttery, and the cream cheese frosting is sweet, but more flavorful than a standard sugar-only glaze.

Great tasting cinnamon buns, but there is a big flaw

It’s a bold claim for Cook’s Country to call these the ultimate cinnamon buns. While they are rich and delicious, the recipe has a fundamental problem that has occurred each of the five times I’ve made this recipe.  Chris Kimball claims that the butter and cinnamon sugar are “… baked together, [and] turned into a truly rich, gooey filling”.  But the truth is that the gooey filling oozes to the bottom of the pan, and after cooling forms a hard, unpleasant,  glass-like coating. If left too long to harden, it will permanently attach the buns to the aluminum foil used in baking. I haven’t found a solution prevent the formation of the epoxy-like coating. However, I have come up with a hard-and-fast rule to mitigate the damage: always remove the buns from the foil no more than 20 minutes after removing from the oven. Waiting the designated 30-minutes before removing from the foil will make a disaster of the already difficult process of removing the buns from the foil.


  1. Originally the recipe calls for diving the rolls into 8 pieces, but the cinnamon buns are too big. Nobody would eat a whole bun, but rather always cut them in half. So instead I divide into 12 pieces, which makes a much more manageable size.
  2. The recipe calls for a 13″ x 9″ pan size. In my kitchen I have two different Pyrex casserole dishes to choose from, so I had to choose the 14″x10″. I’m not sure if this could have impacted the filling.
  3. I strongly recommend using heavy-duty aluminum foil because of the filling problem described above.
  4. There are a few other recipes that I have not tried. They include these Yeasted Cinnamon Buns and also these non-yeasted rolls.

Rating: 4-stars.

Cost: $3 for 12 cinnamon buns.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start 5 hours before serving. If making ahead, restart 2 hours before breakfast. However, the recipe only requires 30 minutes of effort.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here (the site requires free registration, but no credit card). My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

3/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
3 eggs
4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (22-3/8 ounces)
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

  1. Set eggs and 2 sticks of butter out for 30 minutes to warm to room temperature. Cut butter into 16 equal pieces.
  2. Adjust your oven rack to middle position. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, then it shut off. This will provide a warm environment for the dough to rise.
  3. Line a large Pyrex casserole dish with heavy-duty aluminum foil, allowing excess to hang over the edges. Apply some butter to foil.
  4. Heat milk in 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup in microwave for 50 seconds to 110 degrees.
  5. Whisk yeast into milk and let hydrate for 5 minutes, then whisk in eggs (still in measuring cup).
  6. Add flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt to bowl of a standing mixer. Attach the dough hook.
  7. Turn mixer on low (2 on a kitchen-aide), and slowly pour milk mixture in a steady stream. Mix for 1 minute until dough comes together.
  8. Increase mixer speed to medium (4 on a kitchen-aide). One piece at a time, add butter and mix for 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and come away from sides of bowl. If the dough is still wet and sticky, one tablespoon of flour at a time until the dough releases from the sides of the bowl.
  9. Turn dough out onto clean surface and knead to form a smooth, round ball. Transfer dough to large bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
  10. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and put in warm, but turned-off, oven. Let dough rise for 45 minutes until it doubles in size.
  11. After 40 minutes, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in small bowl. Lightly flour a surface, and turn out dough, and roll dough into an 18″ square.
  12. Spread the 4 tablespoons of softened butter over the top surface of the dough, but leave a 1/2″ border around edges. Evenly sprinkle the sugar mixture over the buttered dough, and gently press down on the sugar so that it sticks to the dough.
  13. Starting with the closest edge, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder. Pinch the seam to seal and turn so that the seam side is down.
  14. Use a knife to cut in half, then in half again; then each piece into thirds, yielding 12 rolls. Place the pieces, cut-side facing upward, into prepared pan and cover with plastic wrap. If you plan to finish them tomorrow, refrigerate now for up to 24 hours. If you plan to continue today, then let them rise near the oven (or other warm spot) for 1 hour. If you refrigerated the dough, let it sit at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.
  15. After 30 minutes begin preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Add the softened cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and confectioners sugar to a medium bowl. Using a fork, mix together until smooth.
  16. Remove the plastic wrap and bake for 27 to 30 minutes. The buns will be golden brown and filling will have melted.
  17. Transfer to a wire rack, and evenly apply 1/2 cup of glaze to the tops of the buns. This will be the “primer coat”.
  18. Allow to cool for 20 minutes, then use the foil overhang to lift the buns from the pan. After 10 more minutes top with remaining glaze, and serve.

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