Now or Later Cinnamon Buns

Cinnamon buns are so ethereal. Fresh and hot out of the oven: wonderful. The next day (or even several hours later), not nearly as good. The following recipe allows you to serve cinnamon buns hot from the oven, if that fits into your schedule; or buns up to a few days old. Reheated for 10 minutes, and freshly glazed, your guests will never know they're not newly baked.

You'll notice that there's an extra ingredient and step in the buns you plan on serving later: melted butter, brushed on top when you take them out of the oven. We feel this helps keep the buns soft during storage.

Prep
20 mins
Bake
22 to 24 mins
Total
3 hrs 12 mins
Yield
16 buns
Now or Later Cinnamon Buns

Instructions

  1. Combine all of the dough ingredients in a large bowl, and mix and knead — using your hands, a stand mixer, or a bread machine set on the dough cycle — to make a soft, smooth dough.

  2. Place the dough in a lightly greased container — an 8-cup measure works well here — and allow the dough to rise for 60 to 90 minutes, until it's just about doubled in bulk.

  3. Gently deflate the dough, and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

  4. Roll the dough into a 20" long rectangle, about 12" wide. This soft dough rolls easily, so you shouldn't have much trouble with shrinking or "push back."

  5. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons cinnamon over the surface of the dough. A small sieve or tea strainer works well here.

  6. Starting with a long side, roll the dough into a 24" log; it'll naturally stretch from its original 20" to about 24" as you roll. In order to make the neatest job of cutting out the buns, use a sharp knife to mark the log at 1 1/2" intervals.

  7. Slice the dough into 1 1/2"-thick buns. The neatest way to do this, by far, is by looping a piece of dental floss underneath the dough where you want to cut it, then pulling the ends in opposite directions. The floss will cut the dough neatly, without squashing it.

  8. Lightly grease two 8" round cake pans. Divide the buns between the two pans, spacing 8 in each pan.

  9. Cover the pans, and allow the buns to rise till they're crowded against one another and quite puffy, about 60 to 90 minutes. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.

  10. Uncover the buns, and bake them for 20 to 23 minutes, until they're golden brown on top and the edges of the center bun spring back lightly when you touch it.

  11. To serve buns now: Just before the buns are done, stir together the confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and cream or milk to make the glaze. Turn the hot buns out of the pan onto a rack, and brush with the melted butter. Spread with the glaze, and serve immediately.

  12. To serve buns later: Turn the hot buns out of the pan onto a rack, and brush with the melted butter. Cool completely. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature for a couple of days; for longer storage, freeze. Just before serving, tent the buns lightly with foil, and rewarm in a preheated 350°F oven for 10 minutes (a bit longer, for frozen buns). Stir together the glaze, brush over the buns, and serve warm.

Tips from our Bakers

  • What if you'd like to serve half the buns now, and half later? Brush both pans of baked buns with melted butter, but make only half the amount of confectioners' sugar glaze. Brush the glaze on one of the pans of buns, and serve immediately. Cool the other pan of buns completely, and wrap airtight for storage.
  • Want warm cinnamon buns in the morning? Shape the buns, place them in the pan, cover, and let rise overnight in the fridge. Next morning, remove from the fridge, preheat your oven, and bake till golden brown. It might take about 5 minutes longer than the recipe indicates; just keep your eye on them towards the end.
  • Here's another way to have warm cinnamon buns in the morning, quickly and easily. Bake the buns in a preheated 325°F oven for 15 minutes; they should be set, but not browned. Remove from the oven, cool completely, then wrap tightly and freeze. The night before you want to serve buns, place them (still wrapped) in the refrigerator to thaw. Next day, take them out of the fridge, and let them warm a bit as you preheat your oven to 350°F. Bake for about 15 minutes, until they're a very light golden brown. Remove from the oven, brush with butter, spread with icing, and serve warm.