Cinnamon Buns: InSPIREd baking

cinnBun

Are you ready for some fun buns?

Cinnamon buns usually bring a smile to your face, but these bring a great big grin – maybe a little lopsided, but a smile as wide and high as a country mile.

While we were working on our recipe for Caramel-Nut Cinnamon Buns, we enjoyed the challenge of making buns that rose up out of the pan in tall spiraled peaks like the White Mountains – but dripping with decadent caramel instead of snow and footsore hikers.

Frank, our pastry chef extraordinaire, regaled us with stories of making buns like this with leftover dough scraps for his staff at the San Francisco Ritz, as he simultaneously created pan after pan of tall, twisted, tantalizing buns for us.

So what’s the secret to the spiral? It’s all about breaking the rules.

Roll your favorite cinnamon bun dough into a 14″ x 16″ rectangle. Place the rectangle so that the short sides are at the top and bottom as you face the dough.

Spread the dough with 1/2 cup Baker’s Cinnamon Filling that’s been mixed with 1/4 cup water. You can make the filling thicker or thinner depending on your preference. There should be enough filling to coat the entire surface of the dough in a thin, even layer.

Don’t have Baker’s Cinnamon Filling? (Bummer, man, it’s REALLY good!) Check out the recipe for an easy substitution.

To begin rolling, fold the top inch of the dough over the filling towards yourself.

The key to getting a spire on your cinnamon buns is to gently pull and stretch the dough away from yourself, then roll towards yourself. Stretch, roll, stretch, roll.

This, of course, is exactly the OPPOSITE of what we teach new bakers about making cinnamon buns. Usually you don’t want to get pointy top buns, so we discourage stretch-rolling. But once in awhile, all rules are meant to be broken; and curly topped buns are the happy result.

Cut the buns into 1″ slices using a very sharp serrated knife, or even a twist of dental floss. As you place the buns in greased muffin tins, give them a gentle push up from the bottom to begin the spire.

Don’t push too much, as too big a spire will result in a Tower of Pisa scenario once the buns are baked.

Let the buns rise in the pan for about 20 to 25 minutes or until full and puffed.

Bake the buns at 350°F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown with an internal temperature of 190°F.

As you can see, you’ll get a variety of spiral shapes depending on how tightly you rolled, how much the bun was pushed up, etc.

Check out the snoozer towards the top left. Poor thing just couldn’t keep his head up any longer.

Just like a perfect soft serve ice cream cone. I can’t wait to bite off the top!

First, a drift of Snow White Non-Melting Sugar.

Caramel drizzle, anyone?

Ah, the classic vanilla glaze.  To make the nice even stripes,  put the glaze in a zip-top bag and snip off the corner, making your own easy piping bag. Zigzag over the top of the buns, squeezing out icing as you go.

How about a bird’s eye view? It’s like flying over Bakery-land, with Cinnamon Bun mountains and Caramel Bun volcanoes.

There you have it. A simple secret to making buns that rival any purple mountains’ majesty, and leave you licking your fingers as you glide down every sumptuous slope.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipes for Cinnamon Buns and Caramel-Nut Cinnamon Buns.

Print our Cinnamon Buns recipe.

Print our Caramel-Nut Cinnamon Buns recipe.

MaryJane Robbins
About

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...

comments

  1. Wm. Flake Joiner

    The recipe and the unusual rolling method sounds great; however, WHERE ARE THE WEIGHTS FOR THE INGREDIENTS?
    Thanks for the heads up. The links are all fixed now. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  2. Aaron Frank

    Very cool.

    We make something called schneken. It’s like a cross between a cinnamon roll and a sticky bun baked in a muffin tin but ours always spiraled down. The upwards spiral is pretty cool.

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    I’d love to hear more about that. I’ll have to Google some pics so I can wrap my head around it. Thanks so much for sharing. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  3. mgreens

    These are so cute! And what fun would make for a tea party snack. I wish I had a plate of them this very minute :)
    You and me both! It’s a chilly morning here, so these will do just fine with my coffee. ;) Hope you give them a try! ~Jessica

    Reply
  4. AnneInWA

    MaryJane,

    These look wonderful! My son’s birthday is this weekend, and he has requested cinnamon buns for breakfast so I will be busy making his favorite buns to look like yours! I am so excited to try this method!

    For the carmel buns, did you put some caramel on the dough before you rolled them up as well? Do you think that would work to add some extra gooeyness? And maybe a cream cheese frosting with a drizzle of a carmel glaze on top?
    Hi Anne,
    Sounds like a great time to be had at your place soon. When should we arrive? ;). For the caramel buns, you can add some caramel bits to the filling when you roll up the buns. I think if you add it to the dough, you’ll get burnt spots where it bakes onto the pans. The cream cheese w/ caramel icing sounds delish. How about white chocolate drizzle with caramel? Ohhhh, ahhh! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  5. SnowflakeLady

    This is delicious comfort food, for sure! I send a dozen of these, in my heart, to all Vermonters! You all could use some major comforting right now! My prayers go out to everyone.
    Mary Jane, are KAF people able to get there, and bake? From what I am reading, so many roads are out, all around you!
    Thank you so much for checking on us. Yes, we are all fine here, no one was hurt. There are varying amounts of damage in the surrounding towns. At my house we only got rain, and a little wind but several of my fellow bakers experienced much worse. We are very thankful, even those KAFers with no lights and water as still here to bake another day. We truly appreciate all of the calls and emails we’ve received checking on us. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  6. aamoe

    okay, you guys are torturing me again… posting these incredible recipe/pictures in the morning… i’m trying to wipe the drool off my keyboard now… it’s just not right. I’m taking Friday off, and I think I know what I’ll be baking on Friday… Can’t wait to try this!
    Thanks for noticing the photos. I’ve been re-reading my camera manual and I bought a new close-up lens. This was its maiden assignment, and I think it worked! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  7. "Paul from Ohio"

    NOW you’re baking up my alley. Way to go…and a tip of the hat to Frank.
    Tee hee, I’d have to get a step ladder to get near Frank’s hat, but I’ll definitely give him his props. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  8. "Cookie Nut"

    Hi – I looked up the recipe for the cinnamon filling, but I have a question: is this melted or softened butter?

    “Or make your own filling by mixing 1/3 cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar, and 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon.”

    Thanks!

    Softened is fine… PJH

    Reply
  9. lishy

    I used this method this morning to make pumpkin cardamom buns. I bought some orange cardamom sugar this weekend and used it instead of cinnamon filling. I used your pumpkin cinnamon bun recipe minus the spices and sugar, adding some vanilla and orange juice powder. I sprinkled candied orange peel in the filling rather than ginger and cranberries and voila an amazing breakfast roll that looked like a bright orange tower, and smelled like an Indian spice market. Absolutely amazing!
    OH MY SWEET PUMPKIN! That sounds simply spectacular. (pay no attention to the lady in the apron as she steals your recipe…) Seriously, thanks so much for sharing this Lish! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  10. MGW960W

    These look as if they’d be fun to make with children. Just curious, though. What do the bottoms look like? Are they flat or concave?

    Thanks for all your good work there at KAF.
    Great question. Sorry I didn’t think to take a photo of the bottoms. They look just like regular cinnamon buns, flat bottomed. And they stand up quite well on a plate for serving. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  11. catija

    These look so yummy! Can I prep them the night before and refrigerate them in the muffin tin after the first rise then bake them in the morning?
    I think it would work just fine. Be extra sure not to push them up too much from the bottom or they may all fold over during the longer rise. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  12. acandm

    Instead of the cinnamon filling, what do you think of making your own with cardamon powder instead of cinnamon? And chopped pistachios on top!
    oooh, that sounds delightful! I’m not sure at all about the ratios to use, so if someone has experience with this, please share! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  13. edieirwin

    do you let them rise in the muffin tins before baking? or just cut and bake?
    and if I make my own filling, should I still dilute with 1/4 c. water?
    Also should I use half shortening half butter in the filling recipe? ( I noticed that the cinnamon filling you use has shortening in it).
    thanks for the help!
    Oh Gingersnaps! I can’t believe we all missed that! I totally forgot the line about letting the buns rise in the pans. I’ve added it now, thanks for the heads-up. If you are making your filling, you wouldn’t use shortening and butter, and you would not need the water. Basically it’s like the difference between making instant pudding and making pudding from scratch. It gets you to the same place, but in different ways. Hope this helps. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  14. sallycam

    Oh, I just have to make these and some of the reader variations. Being a healthy and disciplined eater, I rarely make such treats, but these I must try. Love doing them in muffin pans. Cinnamon rolls were our family tradition for Christmas morning. We have a friend staying with us for a few weeks (from Italy). He only wants something sweet in the morning. What a surprise these will be! Ever try using part white whole wheat?
    You could definitely use part whole wheat in the dough. It’s more about the technique of how to spiral rather than a specific recipe you must follow. Have fun with your guests. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  15. Teresa

    Can’t wait to try this at home. I’m a little confused about the “pull and stretch” method. How does this create a pop-up spiral? Do you stretch the dough thin and then roll? I’m having a hard time picture how this works. But maybe I’m over-thinking (as always).
    Hi Teresa,
    Normally when you roll up a cinnamon roll you keep the tension a bit looser so that when the rolls rise before baking, they will have room to grow without blooming upward. When you pull and stretch, you make the dough tighter, so as it rises and bakes it has no choice but to go upward, creating the spiral. Hope this helps clarify. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  16. cheesypoofy

    These look great! My late husband adored these rolls, and how he’d like this version! I’d make them from wheat-free flour for him and we’d feast on the weekend with a pot of coffee. Looking at these makes me remember how we enjoyed cooking together.
    Thanks for sharing, it’s good to remember the happy times we enjoyed with those we love. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  17. cathymo

    Lovely! Two questions:
    A question about the filling – I’ve wondered if adding pie filling enhancer or clear gel to the cinnamon/sugar mixture would help make it thicker and gooier, or if it would just taste weird. I already have both of those, and feel reluctant to buy a whole bag of something new when I don’t make stuff like this very often.

    Par baking – the post about par baking cinnamon buns, freezing them, and then finishing them in the oven in the morning so you can have warm, fresh buns with minimum fuss is the best thing ever. I am a hero to my coworkers, my husband’s coworkers, and my kid’s teachers for providing mid-week miracles.
    Would the same technique in http://www.kingarthurflour.com/blog/2010/12/10/freeze-cinnamon-buns-in-20-minutes/ work for these towering buns?

    For 1 cup of sugar-cinnamon try blending in 1 teaspoon of Instant ClearGel before adding liquid. For these corkscrew like buns, the rolls need to be fully baked. With a par bake, the spires will collapse sideways as the par baked rolls cool. Frank @ KAF.

    Reply
  18. lovebirdmom

    the posted caramel nut cinnamon roll recipe has no cinnamon listed. if one doesn’t come to the blog all they are going to have is caramel rolled up in the roll.
    I’m sorry for the confusion. This recipe actually calls for the baker’s cinnamon filling. There is an alternative recipe to replace this filling (you can find the link on the blog) in case you don’t have the cinnamon filling on hand. I hope this clarifies things. ~Amy

    Reply
  19. johnelle

    So please ask Frank for the recipe of the buns from the KAF bakery. Was just there for a class and samples (for breakfast) were very different–thin and crisp dough instead of spongey. It was like eating a vertically rolled elephant ear. Would really love that recipe since I only get to KAF a few times a year.

    John
    Alas John, all of the bakery’s recipes are proprietary, so they cannot be shared. Even those of us who work here do not know them. Guess you’ll have to plan another trip soon, we’d love to see you! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  20. CorgiFur

    These look amazing!! I adore any type of cinnamon buns. But did you use a regular or Texas size muffin tin?
    Hi there,
    These were done in a regular old muffin pan. I think if you tried with a Texas muffin tin, the insides of the bun might not bake and the spirals might over bake. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  21. sarah.a

    they look amazing! my husband loves cinnamon rolls (as do i) and i make them occasionally as a treat. i’m going to have to try this recipe :)

    Reply
  22. cjpowers18

    Dear M. J.,
    Your are the funniest, wittiest, most delectable bake-blogger I have ever read! I laugh all the way through your demo-blogs. (“It’s like flying over Bakery-land, with Cinnamon Bun mountains and Caramel Bun volcanoes.”) What a wonderful mind!
    Now that I’ve smooched up to your ego -
    This recipe for cinnamon rolls looks wonderful – I can’t wait to try it! -cjpowers
    Thanks CJ, I’m so glad you like my little quirks. Sometimes I do get strange looks about things I say, do or wear, but I’ll definitely take the smooches. All the best to you ;) ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  23. Susan

    I don’t say this often about food but these are beautiful!! I need to make these!
    Thanks so much. I hope they made you hungry, and happy! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  24. Mia

    I read your blog (and use your recipes) a lot – I feel like I know you guys and I’m so glad to hear everyone is all right! Take care!

    P.S. I have been eye-ing cinnamon bun recipes for several weeks. Its like you read my mind! These look great and I will definitely be trying them soon.

    Reply
  25. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, RJ- BRAZIL

    It´s really fantastic. Why have I never thought about this possibility?
    Well I´ll give a try at this recipe TODAY, I only need to know if the buns are baked in the usual muffin tins?
    Can we use raisins to fill buns in this case?
    Nice post. We need more bread posts!!!!
    Yes, you may use a regular muffin tin and raisins would be a welcome addition. Enjoy! ~Amy

    Reply
  26. "mary mouse"

    You inspire me, Frank, but I am not sure I can do it or not. Looks kind of hard to me. Maybe I will work up the courage this winter. Can a person mix up their own cinnamon filling, or am I supposed to buy yours? If you can, will you send me the recipe for it? Thanks, Frank.
    You can find the recipe to replace the cinnamon filling here. ~Amy

    Reply
  27. Pilar

    I’m so glad you all are all right. So scary watching the news, we spent our vacations around your area just 3 weeks ago and we felt in love with Vermont. We also visited King Arthur Flour obviously, we bought 8 different breakfast pastries and we’re all amazing. Kudos!

    Reply
  28. lishy

    One of the other things I did for this is put in two smaller pans, half batch in each. One immediately went in the freezer, the other rose and baked for breakfast. I often do this since it is such a special treat we don’t need more than one per breakfast, and now with one batch I get two breakfasts. The individual deep dish pans work well for this.

    Reply
  29. dagasteiger

    I just had to comment on the timing of this recipe! I had never seen a cinnamon roll baked in a muffin tin until this morning when we went to La Brea Bakery at Downtown Disney before entering the park. I loved it so much I started looking for a recipe to see if I could find one similar and wouldn’t you know it, this recipe was waiting for me in my in-box! Can’t wait to try it!! The only difference is that they rolled theirs in cinnamon sugar and it is just a regular cinnamon roll, no caramel or nuts. Either way, it has to be a winner!
    Hi there,
    I’m so glad this recipe came to you at the right time. Do you think my boss would consider a trip to Disney professional research if I tried a cinnamon roll? What if I promised to try one in every park? *sigh* I didn’t think so either. Hope you had a great day! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  30. "elianna m"

    So I made these on Tuesday night. Only I was serving a hearty beef stew for dinner. So I split the dough in half, rolled both halves out, spread butter on both… and topped one with cinnamon/sugar and the other with garlic powder and parsley. :) The 6 savory buns joined us at the dinnertable – tall spirals and SO beautiful! And then an hour later I pulled the 6 sweet buns out of the fridge, let them rise a little more, and… we had dessert. :) THANK YOU for such a unique recipe; love the shape!
    Great thinking Elianna! Your family must have been impressed with your baking superpowers. Thanks so much for sharing. ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  31. mstebby

    I baked these last night. I had a few that rose into perfect towers, some sunk and did just the opposite.
    I also think I used too much filling because it bubbled out and all over. It’s tasty but didn’t look as pretty as yours.
    Thank you for your fabulous blog and great products!

    Maryanne

    Reply
  32. Jane from Texas

    Do you roll dough into a 14″x16″ rectangle per blog picture or 18″x18″ square per caramel-nut cinnamon buns recipe?

    Thank you for all that you do.
    Hi Jane! The 14″x16″ applies to the Cinnamon Rolls recipe that MJ used on this blog. The 18″x18″ is the measurement you are going to want to use if you make the Caramel-Nut Cinnamon Buns. Hope you enjoy either one… or both! ;) ~Jessica

    Reply
  33. waikikirie

    Can’t wait to give these a try. Due to “Irene”, I’m a little behind. These look fantastic!!!! So love seeing all the comments. Great to hear from an “old timer” Ricardo from Brazil. Always so interesting to read his posts. Hope all at KA and everyone reading has survive this week. Just got power back an hour ago, and I had to log on to see what I missed these last 5 days….teehee

    Reply
  34. BluebonnetBaker

    MJ, those are seriously the most beautiful cinnamon buns I’ve ever seen. Ams x

    Thanks Amber. I hope you are all doing well, and that the waters are starting to recede. Like the song says, the sun WILL come out tomorrow. All our best to you! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  35. junglejana

    whoa! Way to easy to eat and so good too! A new go to recipe! I had a little bit of trouble making the center rise I did get a center bump. And the flavor is out of this world.

    Reply
  36. "Enid S"

    Wow–this recipe really brings back memories from my childhood! My mother used to make cinnamon rolls in muffin pans when I was a little girl and she let me “help” her. She rolled out the dough and let me add dots of butter, sprinkle with brown sugar, raisins, nuts, and cinnamon. She rolled them up, cut them, and baked them in muffin pans. I can’t wait to try this variation also–thanks for the recipe!

    What a great memory – as well as the tip for us to encourage the love of baking in the next generation. Happy Baking! Irene @ KAF

    Reply
  37. mskiba2

    OK, I was hooked on CinAbun recipe, this is much better because the buns cook sepeate and have more browning. Also the dough is perfect, I made the carmel nut one and will try the other versions. where is my colesterol meds ?

    Reply
  38. KRD

    I have deemed today King Arthur Day and am making several of your recipes! It’s a great day!

    These are fantastic! They do not even need a glaze/topping; they are beautiful and tasty right out of the oven. I did make two changes to the recipe out of necessity: 1. I didn’t have instant mashed potato flakes so substituted equal parts potato flour. 2. I made my filling since I didn’t have the KAF ready-made filling.

    These are the BEST cinnamon rolls I’ve ever made (and I’ve tried many) — great dough recipe and great directions. Thank you!
    Thanks for making us part of your day. Just a hint for another day, usually you can substitute just half as much potato flour as potato flakes, as it is a much finer grind. BUT, if you were happy with the results, feel free to leave it as is. Let us know when KAF baking day comes along again! ~ MaryJane

    Reply
  39. Orange Rolls Anyone?

    I substitue the cinnamon mixture with sugar and orange zest! The spiral adds a new cuteness to these already delicious rolls! Thanks!!!

    Reply
  40. Mark B

    Your cinnamon smear looks a lot like apple butter. That gives me a delicious idea!

    Do you have any experience using apple butter in baked goods?

    No experience, Mark, sorry – but it sounds like it would be great for filled cookies; as a swirl in coffeecake or scones; combined with apples in crisp or pie filling; or any number of other yummy “experiments…” PJH

    Reply
  41. Lisa Brown

    These look delicious! and I will try them. But mostly I wanted to know if you are the MaryJane who taught at Creative Learning Center with Sharon and I way back when?If so it is a small world!

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      OH my goodness! Yes, Lisa it’s really me. :). I think of you both often even though I am not teaching preschool any longer. In fact, there is a realtor up here with the same name as your daughter, so that makes me think of you guys all the time. Hope all is well, feel free to send me an email to catch up. maryjane.robbins@kingarthurflour.com.

      all the best!
      ~ MJ

  42. Latrice

    can these be made inside of cupcake liners to preven the sides from browning too much? and if so would baking them inside of a cupcake liner affect the rise of the cinnamon bun or the spiral? thanks

    Reply
    1. MaryJane Robbins , post author

      HI there,
      Thanks for sending the email too, I hope you received my reply :). Yes, you should be able to make these in well-sprayed cupcake liners without an issue. ~ MJ

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