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Overnight Cinnamon Buns

I absolutely love cinnamon buns! This recipe, adapted from my culinary hero Alton Brown, requires the uncooked buns to rest in the fridge overnight. The end product is some of the best cinnamon buns I've ever eaten, and I've eaten a lot of cinnamon buns. They're tender, sweet, and they pair perfectly with smooth cream cheese frosting!

Ingredients

Dough

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 1 whole egg

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 6 tablespoons melted and cooled butter (salted or unsalted)

  • 3/4 cup buttermilk

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active or instant dry yeast

  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Filling

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) melted butter (salted or unsalted)

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar, packed

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or more to taste

  • Pinch of salt, of using unsalted butter

Frosting

  • 1/4 cup or 2 1/2 ounces softened cream cheese

  • 3 tablespoons milk

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk the egg yolks, egg, butter, buttermilk, and sugar. Add 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt. Whisk until combined.

  2. Using a dough hook attachment or just elbow grease, kneed the remaining flour into the dough. Once a dough forms, kneed for about 5 minutes, adding more flour as necessary. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a clean towel. Allow the dough to rise 2 to 2 1/2 hours until doubled in size.

  3. In a small bowl, combine the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt (if necessary). Set aside.

  4. Once the dough has risen, gently roll it into a large rectangle. Spread the filling across the dough, leaving about a 1/2 inch at the top. Roll the dough up, pinching the end to seal. Use a serrated knife to divide the dough into 12 or 9 pieces, depending on the length of your dough and the size of your baking vessel. Lightly greased said baking vessel, and place the rolls into the it, cover with plastic wrap, and store the buns in the fridge overnight. 

  5. Remove the buns from the fridge and place in an oven that is off. Pour boiling water into a shallow pan until it's about 2/3 full, then place in the oven below the buns. Let the buns rise in the oven about half an hour, then remove both the buns and the hot water. Preheat oven 350 degrees Fahrenheit or about 177 degrees Celsius. 

  6. When the oven is ready, put in the buns and bake for 30 minutes. While the buns bake, make your frosting: in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, add the softened cream cheese and beat until fluffy. Use a hand mixer if you don't have a stand mixer. Scrape down the side of the bowl and the mixer, then add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Beat until creamy and homogeneous. 

  7. Remove the buns from the oven. Serve hot with a generous amount of your cream cheese frosting. Enjoy. 

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Don't have buttermilk? Don't worry!

Here's a super simple way to make your own buttermilk: 1 tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice plus 1 cup milk. Just mix those two up and sit aside for a few minutes before using. That's it! This particular cinnamon bun recipe calls for 3/4 cup buttermilk, so just measure out 3/4 cup of your bootleg buttermilk and save the rest for other uses.  

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