Strangely, as a child I absolutely hated cinnamon buns! I vividly remember my family making stops at Cinnabon on holidays, or buying Pillsbury cinnamon buns to bake at home for a weekend breakfast treat. I refused a single bite! I thought they were just disgusting – and way too sweet.
I’m not sure what’s changed, but as a woman in my thirties with a raging sweet tooth, I love them. Granted, I find they are much much better when purchased from independent bakeries or done at home. I’d still argue that the buns I hated as a child aren’t something I’d spend my calories or money on.
But trying this homemade cinnamon bun recipe from Minimalist Baker was a swing and a home run for me, especially as someone who has never used active yeast and sticks to 30-minute recipes. It’s a surprisingly straightforward recipe with only a few ingredients – but I’ll caution that it still does require attention to detail and careful execution.
For me, the two trickiest pieces were getting my vegan butter mixture to the right temperature, and handling the dough. The recipe mentions that when working with yeast, the temperature has to hit a sweet spot: warm enough for the yeast to activate, but not too hot to kill it.
I did a finger test and let my butter mixture cool before adding the yeast. After that, watching it rise was fun! For my batch this only took about 40 minutes:
Rolling out the dough was also challenging for me, and I almost scrapped the entire batch. For my first attempt, I used lightly floured parchment, which was a mistake. You’ll need to roll the dough out quite thin, and be able to carpet-roll and slice it. The dough was incredibly sticky and too warm, and ended up getting stuck to the paper, which ripped off in small pieces.
I was ready to give up, but nothing was stopping my fiance from enjoying a Sunday cinnamon bun! He helped me to heavily flour our countertop, and give it another go.
If you don’t have a rolling pin, I’d definitely encourage you to grab a bottle of wine or water bottle; something to provide a more even roll. I initially pressed out the dough with my hands, but it’s important that the rolled dough is uniform/symmetrical to get evenly sized rolls.
Once we very carefully rolled our dough (first out, then up!) we had a beautiful pan of cinnamon buns (x2) for the oven:
They came out beautifully, and I iced them with a simple icing of confectioners’ sugar and almond milk. They tasted EXACTLY like a bakery-quality cinnamon bun. You will seriously prefer this homemade version to its restaurant or store counterpart!
While I won’t be making this recipe a regular in my rotation, I think it will absolutely remain a “once per quarter” decadent and slightly labour-intensive treat.
This would also be a great showpiece to bake for house guests 😉