Monday, May 16, 2011

Cinnamon Buns

 Ok, I know some of you may prefer to call them "sticky buns", but we always called them cinnamon buns when I was growing up. They are NOT cinnamon ROLLS, though. That's something entirely different, more along the lines of a Cinnabon, with the cream cheese icing oozing down the sides. No, these buns are little pieces of gooey sticky cinnamon heaven and they make the whole house smell like the small-town family-owned bakery down the street. SO intoxicating!
 To be honest, I had never even made them before, but I had always wanted to. Well, I had wanted to ever since my sister Reen made them for a baking contest that her employer was having, once upon a time. She wound up winning the contest and from then on it was known around her office that "Reen has the best buns." But I digress....
 When Reen made them, I thought THIS is something I wanna try! So here we are, several years later. I knew I'd get to them one day!!! This isn't the recipe she used, but it's pretty darn good. Maybe I'll have to have a Cinnabake off with her and we'll see who has the best buns!

1 envelope active dry yeast
1 c. milk
1 egg, beaten
3/4 c. butter
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 c. sifted flour, plus more if needed
Melted butter
1/2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. pecans or raisins or currants or any combination of same (optional)

1 c. dark corn syrup 
1 c. brown sugar, firmly packed

 Heat oven to 400F.
Mix yeast with 1 cup flour, salt, and 1/4 cup sugar. In small saucepan, heat milk with 1/2 cup butter. Heat until warm. Butter does not need to melt. Add beaten egg and stir to blend.
Combine egg mixture with flour and yeast mixture. Beat with electric beater at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add about 3/4 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter. Beat with electric mixer 2 minutes longer. Add remaining flour (more if necessary to make a soft dough). Knead, in bowl, about 12 minutes or until dough no longer sticks to fingers and is elastic.
Place in buttered bowl and let stand in warm, draft-free place for about 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. Punch down. Divide in half and roll each half into a rectangle about 9 inches wide and about 1/4 inch thick. Brush surface of rectangle with butter.
Mix 1/2 cup white sugar with 1/2 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle each rectangle with half of sugar mixture. Roll, jelly roll fashion. Cut into 9 1" slices (it's important to have a very sharp knife or scissors).
Make sticky syrup by heating together corn syrup, 1 cup brown sugar, and remaining 1/4 cup butter. Pour half of syrup into each of 2 layer cake pans (square or round). Sprinkle evenly with nuts or raisins or combination of both (if desired). Place 9 dough slices in each pan. Let rise until doubled (about 30 minutes).
Bake for about 20 minutes or until surface is browned and dough is cooked through. Line a cookie sheet with foil and turn up edges to make walls that will keep syrup from oozing off the sheet. Place pans, upside down, on foil and do not remove for a minute or so (to allow syrup to drain from pans). Serve cooled. Makes 2 pans of buns.

This may seem like quite a lot to take in, but really it's pretty straight forward. Just stay organized and and make sure your measurements are correct. It's really not difficult to do, it just take a little extra time, that's all.
It's VERY important to take them out of the pan IMMEDIATELY after you remove them from the oven, otherwise you'll never get them out of the pan. Sticky, remember?
For maple sticky buns, simply use your favorite pancake maple syrup instead of the corn syrup.
Be sure you have a really sharp knife to cut the slices of dough. I find it's best to make a "sawing" motion when cutting the dough instead of pressing downward. You'll be less likely to squish the roll, and you'll end up with perfectly perfect little spirals.
Oh, and if, for some strange reason, you happen to have some leftover, don't be alarmed if the sticky syrup begins to harden like caramel. You can easily bring them back to their sticky fabulousness by popping them into a preheated 350F oven for a quick 10 minutes.

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