Ultimate Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon Buns

I took the day off work the day after a general election, planning to make these at my leisure. The Tories got re-elected and the world may have been going to pot, but I was happy hiding in my warm kitchen filled with the smell of cinnamon. When I’ve previously tried to make these with an enriched dough, they’ve been too bread-y for my liking. I’ve used croissant dough here as I like how light it is. It involves folding butter into the dough three times. It’s not a difficult recipe but it is quite time consuming so make them when you’ve got some time at home and aren’t rushing about. None of the individual stages are especially lengthy but time is needed for the dough to rest, rise and prove. This recipe makes a batch of 15 generous size buns – halve the quantities to make a smaller batch, which would do 3-4 people for breakfast.

As suggested in the recipe below, you can make the dough the night before and leave it in the fridge overnight, which is the proper way to make croissant dough. I’ve also made these buns by making the dough in the morning and leaving it to sit at room temperature for a few hours, before doing the folding in the afternoon. You can then roll the buns that evening and leave them to prove in a closed oven overnight. Take them out before you turn the oven on to pre-heat it to bake them for breakfast. Do bear in mind you don’t have to do all the folding in one go. I have made the dough, done one fold and left the dough in the fridge overnight, to break the process up. While I haven’t tried it, I’m sure you could freeze the buns once rolled then let them defrost and prove overnight before baking in the morning.


500g plain flour

10g instant yeast

300ml water (not warm)

80g white sugar

a pinch of salt

300g butter, or Stork baking block to make them vegan


300g sugar (brown or white)

3 tablespoons cinnamon

150g raisins or dried mixed fruit, if desired

  1. Start by making the dough -add the flour, yeast, sugar, water and salt to a large mixing bowl and knead until the dough becomes silkier and smoother. Cover the bowl with a tea towel, plastic bag or shower cap (a fab tip from Nigella Lawson) and leave in the fridge overnight, where it will rise slowly.
  1. The next morning, take the dough out of the fridge and leave to sit for ten minutes or it will be very cold to handle. (If using Stork, cut the block of butter in half, re-wrap it and put it in the freezer.) Roll the dough out into a rectangle on a clean floured surface and grate the butter or Stork into the middle third of your dough. (If using Stork, leave the second half of the block in the freezer while you grate the first. It’s easier to handle when it’s cold.)
Grated Butter

3. Fold the top section of dough over the butter to cover it, as shown below.

Fold 1

4. Fold the bottom section of dough upwards to give a smaller rectangle.

Folded Dough

5. Place your dough onto a well-floured chopping board or tray before covering with a plastic bag and refrigerating for 30 minutes.

6. Remove the dough from the fridge and place it on a well-floured surface, with the shortest end of the rectangle nearest you. Roll the dough out into a rectangle again and then fold into neat thirds (as shown above) before refrigerating. You should repeat this three times in total, allowing the dough to chill for 30 minutes each time between folds. .

7. Roll the dough out one last time – it may take a bit of time and effort to roll it out into a big rectangle. Sprinkle with the sugar, cinnamon and dried fruit. You could try adding mincemeat and/or apple or orange zest and dried cranberries. You can swap the cinnamon for cardamom for a more Scandinavian feel. I have also made savoury versions by sprinkling the dough with chopped black olives, feta and sundried tomatoes. You can do half sweet, half savoury to make two different types of buns. I have however found that the sugar in the buns goes syrupy and runs onto the savoury buns – I wouldn’t recommend baking them all in the same tin as you end up with a slightly odd mix of sweet and savoury.

Coiled Dough

8. You can cut the dough in half along its long edge if you’d prefer to make more smaller buns. Either way, roll the dough into a tight sausage, along its long edge. Cut the coiled dough into 15 pieces.

Pieces of Dough

9. Arrange them in a round or square springform tin – they will expand to fill the gaps, making a lovely tear’n’share.

Tin Prove

10. Cover with a plastic bag or shower cap and leave to prove for an hour. Don’t put the dough in an overly warm place or the butter will start to melt – you need it to stay in the dough to create the layers. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and bake for 35 minutes. Make sure to put a baking tray under the tin or you will end up with a sticky sugar-y mess on the floor of your oven and a resultant burning smell.  Once done, the buns will be nice and brown on top but lighter in the gaps between them. Leave to cool a bit before popping them out of the tin. Drizzle with icing or dust with icing sugar. Or maybe even melted chocolate.