Remember when you were a teenager and there was nothing to do on the weekend but go to the mall with your friends, walk around, stare at cute boys, and then grab a cinnabon in the mall food court? Those were the days. Those were the days when your biggest worry was if your Mom would be on time when it was her turn to pick you and your friends up in front of Tellos. Those were the days when paying attention to nutrition information was about as useful as learning Esperanto. When 813 calories for a monster size cinnabon would burn away while your teenage metabolism was sleeping.
Well, some days you have to return to the good old days, and while these cinnamon buns won't take you all the way back to that cinnabon at the mall, they will get your adult self pretty damn close.
This cinnamon bun project started with my friend Anne. She's was all "Do you want to come over and make cinnamon buns with sugar icing?" and I was all "like the ones at cinnabon? Um, YES." Then we had a short discussion about how we loved eating those damn things when we were teenagers. And, even though I didn't know Anne in high school (we met in graduate school), I could imagine a 15 year old Anne (still tall, blond, and beautiful, but with braces) sitting across from me at the mall, giggling, and eating cinnabon.
So we got together on Saturday and made this recipe from Cooks Illustrated.
Here's a few tips that we learned a long the way.
We mixed the dough ingredients until the dough was shaggy, per the instructions. I think it might have been a little too shaggy (as shown above) because it was too wet and the dough stuck to my hands. We added a few more tablespoons of flour and that did the trick.
After we added a little extra flour, the dough formed nicely.
Next you pat down the dough into 9 x 12 piece, which is just a little bigger than a standard piece of paper.
Brush it with magic. Mmm....butter. As a side note: one of the many nice things about baking at Anne's house is the light in her kitchen makes for better photographs than the ones I usually take in my kitchen.
After you roll out the dough, you spread the cinnamon mixture out on top. I think were were a little too aggressive in patting dough the mixture because the dough stuck a little to the counter, making it difficult to roll. Be warned.
Despite this, we got it rolled with only minor structural integrity problems.
No worries, these structural problems quickly disappear when you smoosh the bun down (as shown above).
Then you add the rolls to a greased pan. Though the recipe didn't call for it, I think brushing the rolls with melted butter before putting them in the oven would make them taste better. I think this because this would help keep the rolls moist and, of course, buttery, which is a nice contrast to the cream cheese and sugar icing that you add after they come out of the oven.
Cream cheese and sugar frosting. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The verdict: these cinnamon buns were sweet globs of deliciousness. For the most part, they were quick and easy to make. I think the biggest challenge was rolling the dough into a bun.
A few words of advice: don't over cook these things, ours were right on the edge of being dry. I think they could have been stickier. Next time we make them we'll cook them for a little less time and also make sure to brush them with butter before putting them in the oven (which the recipe doesn't call for ). I don't think they quite lived up to my nostalgia (or Anne's), but then again the last time I had a cinnabon was so long ago I can't even compare.