The icing is obscuring the view a bit, but there are cinnamon buns under there and they are soft, gooey and delicious. Smothered in icing though they may be, they are still smaller than the average airport/shopping mall bun which is roughly the size of your head. These are much more reasonable.
Perfect for breakfast or brunch. Serve them with a good English Breakfast tea. And eat them with your hands. Cinnamon buns are made to be unwound with your fingers not cut into dignified bits. Would you eat fried chicken with a knife and fork? Life is way too short to worry about a little icing here and there… and there.
Cinnamon Buns (makes 20-24 reasonable buns)
For the dough:
1 package or 2-1/4 teaspoons (11.25ml) active dry yeast
2 Tbsp. (30ml) warm water
1/2 cup (120ml) milk, whatever fat content you prefer or have on hand
1/4 cup (60ml) sugar (white or fine grain torbinado)
1 teaspoon (5ml) salt
1/4 cup (85g) unsalted butter, softened*
2 large (US) medium (EU) eggs, room temperature*
2-1/2 to 3 cups (600-720ml) unbleached all purpose flour
For the filling:
1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (120ml) brown sugar (I used light but you can use dark)
1-1/2 teaspoons (7.5ml) ground cinnamon
1/4 cup (60ml) chopped nuts, toasted** (optional)–I have used walnuts and pecans. You could use almonds, hazelnuts, macadamias…
1/4 cup (60ml) raisins, soaked for 15 minutes in warm water and dried (optional)
**Toasting nuts improves their flavor a great deal. Arrange nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Check them halfway through the cooking time to make sure they’re not burning. When you can smell them, they’re done.
12 x 9 inch baking dish, well buttered
Preheat oven to 350° F (175° C).
For the glaze:
1-1/2 cups (360ml)powdered sugar
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
2 Tbsp. (30ml)milk
1 Tbsp. (15ml) melted unsalted butter
*To bring the eggs up to room temperature quickly, cover them in hot tap water (not boiling) for 15 minutes. To bring the butter to room temperature, pop in the microwave at the lowest (defrost) setting for 10 seconds.
To make the dough:
In a small bowl, stir the yeast into warm water with a pinch of the sugar, and set aside.
Warm the milk, and add to a medium bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture, the remaining sugar, salt, butter and eggs, and beat for a few minutes on medium speed until well combined. The mixture will look separated and that’s OK.
Add 1-1/4 cups (300ml) flour to the milk mixture and mix until smooth.
Add another 1-1/4 cups (300ml) flour and mix until the dough just holds together but is still rough looking.
If you are using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and knead the dough for a few minutes. If you’re not, turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes. Cover with a damp dish towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
After the dough has rested, knead for another five minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel, and tuck into a warm place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in bulk.
Punch the dough down, and either use it right away or store in the refrigerator overnight in a plastic bag or airtight container. If storing the dough, make sure there is room for it to rise in the bag or container otherwise it will pop either of them open and the dough will turn hard in the cold air.
To make the filling:
Combine the softened butter, brown sugar and nuts and blend to a paste.
Dry the raisins thoroughly.
To make the buns:
Roll the dough into a 14 x 10 inch or 36 x 25cm (or so) rectangle. It will be about 1/8 of an inch (0.4cm) thick.
Cut the rectangle into two lengthwise. Spread the butter, sugar, nut mixture equally across both halves, getting as close to the edges as possible. Sprinkle the raisins equally across both halves.
Taking care to keep things as tight as possible, roll each rectangle into a cylinder.
Trim the ends and cut into 1-1/2 inch (4cm) slices. Arrange the slices in the buttered baking dish. Compress them slightly with the palm of your hand to flatten them a bit.
Cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel, and tuck into a warm place until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
To make the icing:
In a small bowl, whisk all the ingredients together until the icing is smooth. Set aside. If by the time you use the icing it has become too thick to spread, add a little more milk.
Depending on the height of the baking dish, the filling might bubble over, so you should put a sheet of aluminum foil under the baking dish to catch the drips.
Bake at 350° F (175°C) degrees for 25 minutes until golden brown. Check the buns halfway through the cooking time to make sure they’re not getting too dark too fast. If they are, lay a sheet of aluminum foil over the top.
Put the baking dish on a baking rack, and apply the icing to the top of the hot buns with a pastry brush or knife or just drizzle it over the top. You don’t have to use all the icing.
If you want the buns out of the baking dish so you can serve them on a platter… As soon as they’re out of the oven–being careful with the hot dish–invert them onto a platter or cutting board then invert again onto the serving platter. Apply the icing.