Here at King Arthur Flour, we’re mindful that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Thus we’re careful to refer to “the holidays” at this time of the year, covering all the bases for the three major December celebrations: Christmas, Chanukah, and Kwanzaa. So as you’re reading this post, keep in mind we’re equal-opportunity holiday celebrants: this breakfast can be made ahead, frozen, then baked-and-served on whichever special morning you choose.
One of our readers, Lenore, emailed me recently to request a Christmas recipe that could be made the night before, then easily baked in the morning.
Sounds good to me; anyone who’s experienced the early, early, EARLY wakeup call from the kids on December 25, followed by the subsequent gift frenzy and inevitable energy crash, knows that something to eat is essential by, oh, 7 a.m. or so.
Peanut butter and toast is a good choice for the kids, who at this point could care less what they eat; protein + carbs = energy with staying power. Stay tuned; I’ll share my favorite fast and easy toasting bread recipe the Monday of Christmas week.
But for the adults, something a bit more festive is called for. I mean, a bowl of oatmeal amidst the flying gift wrap and screeches of excitement is about as apropos as a codfish on the coffee table.
On this special day, we need breakfast with a bit of aplomb. Something hot and comforting and—well, doughy, if you know what I mean. Something fresh out of the oven that you pick up and drop because it’s so hot but you can’t wait so you juggle it from hand to hand and finally pop it in your mouth and lick your fingers… see where I’m going here?
Right to cinnamon buns, made from a fast and easy baking powder biscuit dough. And shaped like monkey (pull-apart) bread, allowing everyone to pull off (and juggle) their own hot, cinnamon-y serving.
This is the easiest biscuit I make. Simply whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar, then pour in heavy or whipping cream.
Now, I notice a lot of you have asked if you can use milk instead of heavy cream, or soy milk, or evaporated milk, or half butter, half milk… Sure, go for it. You should use a bit less; start with 1 1/2 cups, and add enough to make a cohesive dough. Be advised, without the fat you’d find in heavy cream, the biscuits will be tougher. I just like using heavy cream because A) I don’t make biscuits that often, so I don’t sweat the calories, and B) It’s just so darned easy to make biscuits this way. But you could also just make your favorite baking powder biscuit dough, and take it from there, dipping in butter, rolling in cinnamon-sugar, etc.
Stir just till the dough comes together.
Break off pieces of dough about the size of a ping pong ball, roll into rough balls if you’re feeling fancy, and dip in melted butter or milk.
Place in a pan with cinnamon-sugar. I love our Cinnamon-Sugar Plus, which combines superfine sugar and Vietnamese cinnamon in the finest incarnation of this toast-friendly treat you’ve ever tasted.
Roll and shake the pan to coat the dough balls with sugar.
Place them in the tree pan; you’ll need to crowd them a bit to get them all in.
Yup, just like the subway at 5:30 p.m….
Or use a 9” x 13” pan, preferably lined with greased parchment, which makes the baked buns easier to get out.
Sprinkle any leftover cinnamon-sugar atop the buns…
…and cover with plastic.
A throwaway shower cap works very well here. Place the buns in the freezer overnight, or for up to about a week or so.
Next day, remove the buns from the freezer, and bake in a 350°F oven for just over an hour, till they’re golden and baked through.
What a lovely, nubbly-bubbly, cinnamon-y sight!
If you’re going to serve immediately, sprinkle them with confectioners’ sugar right away. You might want to assign the task to your favorite helper—in this case Bella, who’s wielding her tea strainer filled with sugar very carefully. If you’re not planning on serving these buns till later (though they’re SO much better warm…), don’t sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar till right before serving.
“Snowy” cinnamon buns, totally apropos for the season.
Let folks break off their own servings.
Warm cinnamon, through and through. It doesn’t get any better.
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Monkey in a Tree.
Buy vs. Bake
Buy: Crystal City Café and Bakery, Corning, NY: plain baking powder biscuits, 29¢/oz.
Bake at home: Baking powder biscuits rolled in Cinnamon-Sugar Plus, 17¢/oz.