Waking up to the prospect of a tummy full of warm, freshly-baked cinnamon buns surely has to be one of the highlights of a cold Sunday morning. These fabulously sticky, fragrant rolls are not only easy to make ahead, but can be popped in the freezer and baked from frozen, making them an invaluable part of your Very Organised Christmas.
This recipe will make roughly 24 buns; as they are best eaten warm from the oven, I tend to set aside half in the fridge overnight for breakfast, and then freeze the rest on greaseproof paper. Once they are solid, pack them into ziplock bags and put them back in the freezer, where they will keep happily for up to 3 months. Baking them from frozen is a doddle, just take them out while the oven heats up, then they will puff up beautifully as the cook.
The time taken for the dough to rise for the first time is very temperature dependant. In summer, I have had the mixture double in size in an hour or so, but in winter it can take hours, so it is best to complete this stage in the fairly early evening so it doesn’t interfere with your bedtime!
For the dough
1 cup of milk (240ml)
⅔ cup of sugar (135g)
½ cup of melted butter (115g. I have used sunflower oil and it still it works well)
¼ teaspoon salt
4 ½ cups plain flour
2 sachets of yeast (14g)
For the filling
½ cup butter, softened (115g)
1/2 cup sugar (115g)
1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
For the glaze
150g icing sugar
3 tablespoons milk
To make the dough, combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl, or in your kitchen mixer, fitted with a dough hook. Stir the eggs, milk and melted butter together, then tip into the centre of the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Knead the dough either by hand or in your mixer until the dough is smooth and bouncy.
Rub a thin layer of oil over a clean bowl, shape your dough into a ball and set it to rest somewhere warm, nicely nestled and covered with a sheet of cling film. Leave to rise until it has doubled in size and pings back satisfyingly when you prod it.
Meanwhile, line two roasting tins with greaseproof paper, then mix the filling ingredients in a small bowl until thoroughly combined. Once the dough has risen to your satisfaction, roll it out into an oblong roughly 50 x 25 cms, with the long edge facing towards you. Using a large spoon, smear the doughy rectangle with the buttery, crunchy filling, taking care to push it right to the edges (nobody wants a dry bit!).
Starting with the long edge, roll the dough up into a sausage. At this stage you can either cut it with a sharp knife into 2cm slices, or, our preferred method, using baker’s twine or strong thread (you can even use unwaxed dental floss!). Pass the thread under the sausage at about 2cms in, then pull the furthest end towards you and the nearest one away, thus hopefully cutting the snails neatly.
Lay the buns into your prepared tins with the whirly sides facing up (I tend to discard the very ends of the sausage, and bake them separately for private consumption), then cover with cling film and pop them in the fridge overnight (or straight into the freezer).
To bake the buns, remove them from the fridge while you preheat the oven to about 200 degrees, then bake for 20-25 minutes until puffy and golden brown. I find them sweet enough already, but if you would like to make a glaze, simply mix the milk and icing sugar together (adding a little more liquid if necessary) to make a runny icing about the consistency of single cream. Allow the buns to cool slightly, then drizzle over the top with a fork.