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Thursday, June 21, 2012

quick cinnamon rolls.

The reason why I've never be suckered in by promises of quick versions of time-consuming recipes is because firstly, if I want to bake something, I will plan ahead. And I will make time for it instead of having to squeeze my baking slot in a busy schedule. In other words, I've got the time, so why rush? The second reason is because I'm skeptical of how the new adaptation would fare as compared to the original. I mean, sure, it is faster but would it be less tasty?

That's why even though there's a panoply of quick cinnamon roll recipes out there, garnering many fans to boot, I've never really bothered to try one. I decided to give it a shot this time because I had extra buttermilk in the fridge and I've already made blueberry muffins and I didn't feel like pancakes. Not to mention I was missing my favourite spice cinnamon.

So I threw the dough together, patted, buttered, rolled, sliced and baked. Like normal yeasted cinnamon rolls, they perfumed the house with the wonderful aroma of heavenly heavenly cinnamon, but sans the yeastiness and bread dough.

The cinnamon-mixture was erupting out of the tiny volcanoes of cinnamon rolls. I lamented the waste of goo and thanked god that I remembered to spray the pan.

And then came the hard part. How to choose which cinnamon roll has the most goo? I am by no means an expert, but I have a general guideline garnered from past experiences. My own, experiences, so please excuse me if it does not apply across the world of cinnamon rolls: Look for the cinnamon roll which shows the most goo. I mean, I know its kinda obvious but I used to think that cinnamon rolls with the least visible goo would actually have the most because that means very little leaked out and most of the cinnamon-sugar mixture would still be inside. But I soon realized that the reason why exploding (with goo) cinnamon rolls would have more goo because there's too much goo to be contained inside!

Now past the choosing, let's get down to the munching. Surprisingly, it wasn't the goo or the fluffiness of the dough that convinced me that quick cinnamon rolls are worthy substitutes of their traditional yeasted counterparts, it was the crunch of the tops of the dough that sealed the deal. This sort of crunch is something that you will never ever get from a yeasted dough. Of course, the insides of the dough were total yums as well- fluffy, moist, buttery, a little bit salty. In fact, even though yeasted buns are quite easy to make, these quick cinnamon rolls are more of a fool-proof version because the slightest overbaking of yeasted dough can result in unpleasant dryness while a few minutes extra wouldn't do as much damage to the moisture of the dough. Plus, you get some really good crunch!

I always think that cinnamon-sugar mixtures of cinnamon buns are missing a little something. They are just sugar and cinnamon-y (duh) and they need some kick to break the monotony. I'm thinking that instant espresso powder would add some spice, going down the non-chocolate route, or even bacon for some saltiness! If you like to play safe, toasted walnuts are always good too.

These are really good if you're short on time, but I wouldn't say that they are suitable substitutes if you're looking for the deep complex flavour yeasted breads can give. Plus, bread dough is more porous than biscuit dough and can absorb a hell lotta butter which is precisely what makes the centre of the spiral so pleasantly soggy and bursting with that golden fat. Having said that, I would definitely make these again and again and again.

Quick Cinnamon Buns
makes 8
recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp table salt

Biscuit Dough
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for flouring work surface
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted, divided

2 tbsp cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 425F. Prepare a 8 inch square pan.

To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Whisk all ingredients together. Set aside.

To make biscuit dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tbsp melted butter together. Add liquid to dry ingredients and stir until liquid is absorbed, about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no longer shaggy, about 1 minute.

Pat dough into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Brush 2 tbsp of melted butter onto the dough, spread cinnamon-sugar mixture on top and roll it up from the longer side. Slice into eights and arrange rolls in the prepared pan.

Bake until edges are golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. (Mine took 15 minutes individually baked in a muffin pan.) Remove rolls from pan onto a rack and cool for 5 minutes before icing.

For the icing: Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk in a large bowl until thick and smooth. Sift the icing sugar over and whisk until a smooth glaze forms.


  1. Did you place the rolled cinnamon rolls directly into the greased muffin tin, or did you do something different with them?
    I would prefer them as muffins than the traditional round rolls, so I'm just curious.

    1. Hi- after I rolled the whole rectangle of dough up, I sliced them as per normal but instead of placing them in a pan side by side, I put each individual portion of dough in a cavity of a muffin pan which I sprayed earlier, cut side facing up.

  2. wow amanda these look absolutely amazing! for breakfast, lunch or dinner. yum!

  3. Do you think I can substitute the 2tbsp of butter that is being brushed on to the dough for applesauce?