January 12, 2011 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Help me recreate a cinnamon bun recipe from my childhood!

Growing up in rural New Brunswick there was a bakery in town called Cream Puff Bakery and they made the most ridiculous cinnamon buns in the world and I have never had their equal. They are closed now and I want me some cinnamon bun but I can't find a recipe that even comes close!

They were definitely made from a yeast dough - may have even just been their usual bread dough - and they were baked in a pan so you had just bready goodness, no crusty sides. Obviously they were layered with cinnamon sugar and butter and rolled up and cut, so they looked swirled. Plus, they were borderline salty, which made them extra awesome.

Their real claim to fame is that their BOTTOM was saturated in a brown sugar, cinnamon and mostly butter coating. It was NOT thick like caramel, which seems to be where every recipe I have found fails! It was the bottom that made the buns. They sold them on wax paper because the bottoms were so sugary and sticky. I am sure they were baked in the sugary mess since the bottom dough showed no sign of being on a bare pan if you know what I mean, and the sugar butter sludge would seep up into the bun. Strangely it never really turned caramel-y - there were sometimes brownsugary crystals - which is confusing since it should have fully melted if it was in a hot oven? right?

I know that is a smattering of random details but I'm hoping the MeFi gods will smile on me today and help me find a suitable replacement for these mind blowing cinnamon buns.
posted by gwenlister to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: LOOK! The buns are even mentioned in the paper! (half way down it talks about the bakery closing their doors... sad...) I add this because I feel a bit ridiculous going on about a cinnamon bun, but obviously it wasn't just me that was in love with them! haha
posted by gwenlister at 8:51 AM on January 12, 2011

Best answer: I have had great success with Alton Brown's overnight cinnamon rolls, and with a few tweaks they may be the cinnamon bun of your dreams.

-eggy yeast dough and baked in a pan, so they are very soft
-bottom is runny brown-sugary buttery, not a hard caramel
-brown sugar crystals do tend to subsist, even after baking
-optional cream cheese frosting is freaking fantastic.

You may want to put more butter in the filling in order to attain the buttery-ness you remember. Any way you slice it, this is a damn fine cinnamon roll to attempt on your way to perfection. Good luck!
posted by sararah at 8:56 AM on January 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Also, The Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls are baked in a similar fashion, and if you don't want to make 50(!!!) someone just downsized the recipe. I have not tried this recipe, but the internet claims it is delicious.
posted by sararah at 9:00 AM on January 12, 2011

Your description of the bottom sounds kind of like a pineapple upside-down cake, except with cinnamon rolls. Maybe if you find a dough recipe you like, you can adapt an upside-down cake "topping" recipe to give you the messy, sugary deliciousness on the bottom.
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:02 AM on January 12, 2011

I think you'll need to experiment a bit, but to start with the dough:

An overnight dough recipe is great, especially if you don't want to get up at 4am to start your dough, or want to eat them before 3pm. If you go the overnight route, leave it in a colder place, or the fridge. You want what would normally take 90min to take 8 hours.

I like this Sweet Dough recipe. It would also be fine to use a rich white sandwich dough. For a sandwich loaf, it would be common to use shortening/lard in the dough instead of butter. This would change the flavor and also make it fluffier than a butter enriched dough. I'd try both and see which is more like the buns you remember.

What is important is the way the dough is worked— a kind of slapping and folding motion. Keeping air entrained is key. After rising work the dough as little as possible. A lot of the final texture will come from how you work the dough. Its a skill you'll develop over time, so don't worry if it's not as great as you remember at first.

You can keep the brown sugar on the bottom of the pan from melting by using an insulated or reflective pan. A dark, or clear glass pan, will conduct more heat into the bottoms. A Silpat lined half sheet pan might work.

It also sounds like these were cooked until just done, pulling them out a bit earlier than you think might be a good idea.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
posted by fontophilic at 9:31 AM on January 12, 2011

Why don't you email the writer of the Telegraph-Journal piece and ask him if he'd pass your request on to Jackie and/or Kevin Devine? It's a small town, he probably knows where to find them.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:37 AM on January 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I honestly think they were made with a normal bread dough. If you ate the top bits that didn't get saturated in the sugar slurry at the bottom it was barely sweet, and the only sweetness likely came from the filling. I mostly just want to know how I might be able to recreate the bottom fantastic deliciousness. It was almost squishy with butter and yumminess...
posted by gwenlister at 3:06 PM on January 12, 2011

Pan-sticker Cinnamon Rolls!

I can't find the recipe online, but it appears in Jane & Michael Stern's "Real American Food."

6 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon dark corn syrup

...As dough rises, prepare glaze by beating softened butter with brown sugar and corn syrup until smooth. Spread across bottom of of a 12-inch iron skillet or cake pan.


...Lay pieces into prepared skillet, almost touching....


...If not serving immediately, lift rolls out of pan with spatula, scraping up maximum amount of caramel glaze.
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:43 PM on January 12, 2011

Cinnamon roll doughs that I have used very closely resemble challah bread or brioche. Usually the dough itself is not very sweet, but it does have a higher fat content due to the eggs and/or butter. So I'm not sure what you mean by a "normal bread dough" (like a white sandwich bread?). Obviously a very lean dough (think French baguette or Italian bread) would be chewy for cinnamon rolls, whereas a regular "white sandwich bread" is also going to be enriched with some sort of fat (probably in the form of veg. oil).

I think Alton's recipe will get you pretty close to the bottom, if you add more brown sugar/butter to the bottom of the pan before putting the cinnamon rolls in the pan. You won't know until you try!
posted by sararah at 12:09 PM on January 13, 2011

Best answer: Okay, so my mom makes these "Sticky Buns" every Christmas, based on a recipe she got from my dear departed Aunt Sandy. We almost never have them otherwise, so to me, they're the essence of the smell of Christmas. They are just phenomenal. She just sent me the recipe this morning, and I am reproducing it here, sparing you the fact that the version she sent to me is typed up in comic sans.

Now, as far as the bottom coating goes, this one apparently only contains brown sugar and cream, not butter. BUT: the filling contains butter, and I think it may drip down into the bottom layer while cooking, because the bottom coating is deliciously rich-tasting, in a buttery way. If I didn't have the recipe in front of me, I definitely would've guessed that there was butter in the bottom coating (which, incidentally, becomes the top coating after cooking -- my mom flips the pan of buns upside down onto some wax paper or a platter when they're cool).

From your description, I think these might be real close to what you had. You don't mention frosting of any kind -- these also don't have frosting, unike the Alton Brown and Pioneer Woman recipes above, which seem to have that same kind of sugary frosting that you get at Cinnabon and whatnot.

My family tends to eat these by unrolling them or cutting them in half, then spreading butter on them like they're dinner rolls. Why? Because we just don't give an F about our fat intake, evidently.

Sticky Buns

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream

0.5 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
0.5 cup butter, softened

3-3.5 cup flour
1 package yeast
0.25 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup hot tap water (120-130 degrees)
2 teaspoons butter, softened
1 egg

Mix brown sugar and cream in ungreased 13”x9” metal pan.

In a large bowl, blend 1.5 c. flour and the next 6 ingredients. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed. By hand, stir in remaining 1.5-2 c. flour.

Knead on floured surface 1 minute. Press or roll dough into 15”x7” rectangle.

Combine filling ingredients and spread over dough. Starting at longer side, roll up tightly and seal edges. Cut into about 24 rolls. Place rolls cut side down in cream mixture (about 6 rows of 4 rolls each). Cover. Let rise in warm place until light and doubled in size - 35-45 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Bake 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool 10 minutes, then invert onto platter or waxed paper. (Leftover buns will freeze well for later consumption.)
posted by Greg Nog at 5:50 AM on January 15, 2011 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: Awesome answers all around! I'm going to try a couple of these. None of them sound quite right, but I'm hoping to be proven wrong! Either way, it should be a delicious trial and error. :)
posted by gwenlister at 8:03 AM on January 16, 2011

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