quick cinnamon buns

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back in college, I used to use baking as a stress reliever, and law school has marked the return to late-night/really-early-morning baking. in the last few years, I’ve found enjoyment in a good weekend baking project, but as a law student, I’ve lately been on the hunt for recipes for pastries that require less time.

unfortunately, this means I’m still am mystified by pastries made with yeast (a project I’m hoping to tackle this summer). but fortunately, this search turned up violet bakery’s baking powder-leavened cinnamon buns, which has all the sugary, intense cinnamon flavor and enjoyable flaky dough without the hours of rising. these cinnamon buns also freeze great, and with my new gas oven (which preheats in only 5 minutes!!!), I’m always 30 minutes away from a tasty, fresh-baked pastry.

law school has marked the return of another habit that perhaps is in tandem with late-night bakes: late night snacking. unfortunately, I no longer have my college-age metabolism, which leads me to another project I’m hoping to tackle after finals: some of the beautiful hiking trails around d.c! I’m definitely looking forward to packing some of these highly-portable buns for myself and my friends and scrambling up some rocks this summer.

makes 12 buns

filling
75g unsalted butter
250g light brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
cinnamon buns
560g all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
240g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
300g cold milk
2 tbsp sugar, for dipping
optional: butter, for greasing the tin, or muffin tin liners

claire ptak. the violet bakery cookbook. new york: ten speed press, 2015.

filling|1 melt the butter and leave in a warm place so that it remains liquid.
2 in a small bowl, mix together the light brown sugar and cinnamon until no lumps remain, then set aside.
buns|1 preheat oven to 400ºF. butter a 12-cup muffin tray, or line with paper liners.
2 in a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, then using a pastry cutter, mix in the cubes of butter until you have a coarse meal.
3 slowly add in the cold milk while mixing, and continue mixing until the dough forms into a balls and comes away from the bowl.
4 turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for 5 minutes. fold the dough gently over itself once or twice to pull it all together. let the dough rest a second time, for 10 minutes.
5 clear a large surface and dust lightly with flour. roll out the dough into a large rectangle until about 5mm (1/4in) thick. (I roll it out to 24in x 12in rectangle.) brush the surface of the dough with melted butter and before the butter hardens, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar onto the butter. use it all up!
6 roll the dough up, starting at the long side, keeping it neat and tight. (start with the long side facing you, then gently tug the dough towards you while rolling to get a tight spiral.) once it’s rolled, gently squeeze the roll to ensure the same thickness throughout. use a sharp knife or pastry cutter to cut the roll cross-ways into 12 even slices (mine were each 2in thick). take a slice of the cinnamon roll, peel back ~5cm (~2in) of the loose end of the pastry and fold it back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom. place in the muffin tray, flap-side down. repeat with the remaining slices.
7 bake the buns for 20-25 minutes. as soon as they’re done, flip them onto a wire cooling rack and allow them to cool for 5 minutes. dip each cinnamon bun to a bowl of sugar and serve straight away.

*if you want to freeze the buns, you can freeze the unbaked dough in the muffin tins. after they’re frozen, they can be un-molded and stored until needed. when you bake them, add a few minutes to the bake time.

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cinnamon cardamom buns

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this past summer, I spent a few days in copenhagen. right down the street from our airbnb was one of copenhagen’s famous bakeries, meyers bageri. each morning, there would be a queue out the door and if we came after 10am, they’d be sold out of just about everything! (so much for sleeping in on vacation.) I loved their fluffy, buttery kanelsnurrer, especially the blueberry version.

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spiral spire at vor frelsers kirke in christianhavn.

since then, I’ve tried a few times now to recreate those pastries. most recipes I’ve found have a denser bread base that is then twisted into a beautiful, chewy cinnamon cardamom cookie-bread hybrid. (I think it might be based on the swedish version of the pastry.) they were good, but not quite what I was looking for.

while “leafing through” the ebook version of steffi knowles-dellner’s lagom, I saw that she included both a kanelsnurre and a blueberry kanelsnurre recipe (called kanel & kardamummabullar in her book) and was instantly reminded of meyers bageri. I’m happy to report that her recipe is definitely the closest I’ve found to what I experienced in copenhagen. the recipe itself was relatively painless, requiring two rise times but very little in the way of complex pastry skills, and the result is so, so good. I loved them so much, I ate three straight out of the oven!

the other pastry I loved in copenhagen was the tebirke, but my last attempt was so time-consuming and traumatic, I’m not sure I’ll tackle it for the next year. in the meanwhile, I guess I’ll just have content myself with these excellent kanelsnurrer.

makes 24 buns

dough
150g (2/3 cup) butter
500ml (generous 2 cups) milk
50g fresh yeast (or 1 tbsp + 2 tsp active dry yeast)
125g (scant 3/4 cup) granulated sugar
2 tsp ground cardamom
635g (5 cups) bread flour (all-purpose will do in a pinch)
1 egg, beaten, for egg wash
filling
55g (4 tbsp) butter, softened
37.5g (3 tbsp) granulated sugar
2 tsp cardamom
1 tbsp cinnamon
sugar glaze
75g (6 tbsp)granulated sugar
100ml (7 tbsp) water

steffi knowles-dellner. lagom: the swedish art of eating harmoniously. london: quadrille publishing limited, 2017.

dough|1 in a small saucepan, melt the butter. pour in the milk and heat until just warm to touch. slowly add and stir in the yeast until dissolved.
2 in a large bowl, combine the sugar, cardamom, 1/2 tsp salt, and flour. add the butter-milk mixture and mix until you have a wet dough.
3 tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it comes together. add a bit more flour if the flour is too sticky to knead.
4 return to a clean bowl and sprinkle with flour. cover with a tea towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise in in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
5 gently press the dough down a bit, then tip onto a lightly floured surface. knead for a few minutes, adding more flour if the dough is too sticky to knead. when the dough releases from the surface easily, it is ready. cut the dough in half (another way to check if the dough is ready: you should see evenly distributed air bubbles). roll each half out to form a 12×16-in rectangle with the longest side facing you.
filling & assembly|1 in a small bowl, combine the sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom.
2 spread the softened butter over each rectangle, then sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture.
3 preheat the oven to 450ºF and line several baking sheets with parchment. starting from the left, roll each rectangle tightly and slice into even pieces, about 1 inch thick. pinch or tuck in the ends and place, generously spaced, on the prepared sheets. cover with tea towels or plastic wrap and proof for about 40 minutes, until doubled in size.
4 brush with beaten egg and bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden. allow to cool on a wire rack.
glaze|1 while the buns bake, combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan. without stirring, bring to a simmer. continue to simmer for a few more minutes, then allow to cool slightly before brushing them over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.