These cinnamon buns are so easy to make that you will wonder what all the fuss is about. They look like pastries but are far less complicated because they are not made from puff pastry. The basis of these little beauties is plain and simple dough, that is enriched with butter, eggs and sugar. Light and soft they make a wonderful morning treat - although in my household they are usually baked in the afternoon and never see the light of another day.
125g whole milk warmed up
5g active dry/instant yeast (10g fresh*)
40g melted butter
20g caster sugar
250g bread flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cardamom (depending on taste)
1 large egg beaten (reserve some to brush the buns before baking or use another egg entirely)
50g softened butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon
25g soft brown sugar
25g caster sugar
Sprinkle active dry yeast into the warmed milk (if using instant yeast you can omit this step and just add the yeast to the flour directly) and cover it with cling film and wait till the yeast froths up or becomes bubbly. This indicates the yeast is alive. Combine all the dough ingredients with the yeast and milk mixture and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. In a stand mixer with a dough hook this can take less time. The dough is ready when it passes the window pane test. This is when you take a small amount of dough, the size of an egg and make a ball and then stretch it out. If the dough stretches without tearing to the point where you can see light through it, the dough is ready. When dough made with white flour is ready it has a glossy and smooth skin that does not stick to your hands as much. Fold the dough to create a ball with a smooth surface and leave the dough to rise in a covered bowl in a draft free area (not too warm or too cold) for 1.5 hours or till the dough has doubled in size. The time for this can vary depending on the conditions. When the dough is doubled in size empty it on to a smooth surface and knead a little more (this is called knocking back the dough). Let the dough rest covered while you make the filling.
Combine the filling ingredients. You should have a smooth paste that can be spread over the dough.
Roll out the dough to a rectangle that is slightly larger than an A4 sized sheet of paper.
Knot shaped buns (pictured above): I prefer these because they seem to produce a lighter bun. For this shape spread the butter over half the length of the rectangle and fold the other half over and seal the edges (diagram above). Cut 9 strips of dough down the side. Take each strip and stretch and twist then fold into a knot. Here's a handy demonstration (though mine are a bit smaller as I cut the strips along the shorter side). Put the buns on a lined sheet to rest with room to expand.
Leave the buns covered for 30 minutes, then gently brush with a beaten egg and bake for 12 - 15 minutes till they are browning.
Spiral Shaped Buns: There are different ways to shape cinnamon buns - you may be familiar with the ones that look like a swirl. To make these spread the filling all over the rectangle of dough and roll the dough along the long side. Then cut the roll carefully into 9 rolls. Place them on a lined tray with space between them to expand. Leave them covered with a plastic sheet (greased to prevent sticking to the dough) for 30 minutes. Then brush with beaten egg and bake for 12 - 15 minutes till the buns are browning.
*If using fresh yeast you can add it to the milk and stir it in till it is dissolved. If it is fresh yeast you shouldn't need to wait to see if it bubbles as it can go straight into the flour. However, if you have had the yeast for over a week and need to be certain it is alive you can cover and leave it to bubble like you do with dry active yeast. A little bit of sugar will help the yeast activate faster and create the froth/bubbles you need to see for prove of validity.