Gail’s Bakery’s cinnamon buns
- A challenge
- April 2020
- Makes 18 buns
- Hands-on time 1½ hours, Oven time 25-30 min, plus chilling, rising and proving
Gail’s Bakery‘s flaky cinnamon buns are exactly the sort of joyfully crisp, sugar-coated treat you want to eat with a strong cup of coffee. In fact, during testing, the smell emanating from the delicious. kitchen was pronounced the best ever to tantalise the office. Yes, they’re a task that does take time, but you can freeze half the batch (the recipe makes approximately 18) for another day. Make them as a breakfast treat for yourself, your friends, or perhaps your mum on Mother’s Day – they really are worth the effort..
Or, make elevenses even more indulgent with our chocolate and cinnamon buns.
- 24.1g (15g saturated)
- 59.9g (20.5g sugars)
- 35g fresh yeast (see Know-how)
- 300g plain flour, plus extra to dust
- 640g strong white bread flour
- 400g unsalted butter, chilled, plus 95g unsalted butter at room temperature
- 70g caster sugar
- 20g salt
- 300ml whole milk
For the filling
- 170g light muscovado sugar
- 85g caster sugar
- 2 heaped tbsp ground cinnamon
- 100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
For the topping
- 120g caster sugar
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
You’ll also need…
- Stand mixer
- Baking sheet lined with a non-stick baking liner (one that will fit inside your freezer)
- 3 x 6 large hole muffin tins – grease the holes and around the holes
- To make the dough, mix the yeast, 170ml cold water and 150g of the plain flour with a wooden spoon in the bowl of a stand mixer to create a thick paste. Sift over the remaining 150g plain flour in a thick layer, then leave for 15–20 minutes until you can see the flour beginning to crack as the yeast works underneath it.
- Add the 640g bread flour, the 95g soft butter, sugar, salt and milk, then knead using the dough hook on a slow speed for 5 minutes until you have a soft but not completely smooth dough.
- Tip the dough onto a clean worktop and knead by hand for a few minutes, forming it into a ball. Lightly flour the surface and rolling pin, then roll the dough out to a 20cm x 30cm x 5cm thick rectangle. Transfer to the lined baking sheet, wrap well, then freeze for 30 minutes (see tips).
- While the dough chills, take the 400g butter out of the fridge and leave it to warm up for 15 minutes. Put in a sandwich bag or between 2 pieces of cling film, then press it down to create an even rectangle, about 15cm x 20cm and 1.5cm thick. Chill until the dough is ready (see tips).
- Roll the chilled dough into a 15cm x 60cm rectangle. Flour your biggest worktop and put the dough in front of you, short edges at the sides. Put the chilled butter in the centre of the dough, then fold each short edge over to encase the butter.
- Press the dough out with the rolling pin, working away from you, front to back only, not side to side – the direction you roll in is crucial to maintain even layers. Roll out a rectangle that’s 1cm thick by 1 metre long.
- Imagine dividing the dough into thirds. Fold the bottom third up, then the top
third down over that to give 3 layers, like folding a letter. Put the folded dough back on the baking sheet, re-wrap and freeze for another 30 minutes.
- Remove the dough from the freezer, unwrap it and sit the dough in front of
you exactly as it was before, like a folded letter. Give it a quarter turn so the long edges are now horizontal. Roll out again on the floured worktop, away from you, to make a rectangle 1cm thick by 1 metre long. Fold the bottom edge up to meet the centre line of the dough and fold the top edge down so the two edges meet. Finally, fold the dough back down in half to create 4 layers. Return to the baking sheet, wrap, then freeze for 30 minutes more.
- For the filling, mix the muscovado sugar, caster sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
- Put the dough on the floured worktop, give it a quarter turn, then roll out to a 30cm x 80cm rectangle, 1-2cm thick. Give the rolled dough another quarter turn so the short edges are at the sides.
- Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving a thin border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling all over the melted butter and pat it down so it just begins to dissolve into the dough. Using a palette knife, squash the long edge furthest away from you to the work surface to hold the pastry in place as you roll (see tips).
- Starting from the long edge closest to you, roll the dough up tightly like a swiss roll.
Turn it seam-side down then, with a sharp non-serrated knife, cut the dough in half. Put the two pieces side-by-side and cut them both into 9 equal-size buns (see tips). Take each bun and tug out the loose end of the rolled dough to stretch it slightly, then tuck it under itself so the bun sits on it (see tips and Make Ahead). Transfer the buns to the muffin tins.
- Put the tins in a cold oven for 2 hours to prove, with a small bowl of hot water on the floor of the oven, until risen and springy to the touch. Remove from the oven (along with the bowl of water).
- Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Put the trays in the oven, then immediately reduce the temperature to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Bake for 25–30 minutes until completely puffed up and the buns have spilled out of the muffin holes. They should be a dark, golden brown colour.
- Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes, then carefully lift out of the tin and rest back on the tins (slightly askew) to cool further – don’t let the base of each bun touch the muffin tray or they’ll stick as the sugar solidifies.
- For the topping, mix the sugar and cinnamon in a large shallow bowl then, once the buns have completely cooled, roll them gently in the topping to coat. Eat as soon as possible after baking.
The reason for chilling the dough is that, for the best lamination (see Know-how), the butter and dough need to be the same temperature. If the butter is harder it will tear the delicate pastry layers when rolling.
Putting the dough in the freezer between rolling and folding is quicker than the fridge. Turn the dough over in the freezer after 15 minutes to help it chill properly all the way through.
Squashing the pastry edge when rolling makes sure the pastry doesn’t move when rolling, so the buns are even. It also makes a thinner edge for folding underneath to create the base.
To make sure you divide the dough into even buns, score the dough first with the back of your knife before cutting. They’ll still end up slightly different, but making sure the dough is the same size for each bun will help them bake at the same rate.
Once you’ve shaped the buns in step 12, put them on a lined baking sheet, cover and freeze overnight. Once frozen solid, transfer to freezer bags or a container and keep frozen for up to 2 months.
To bake, put the buns back in the muffin tin, then leave to defrost. Let them prove at room temperature overnight, then bake from the end of step 12.
Fresh yeast is available from larger supermarkets, health food shops, some bakeries and at Ocado. If you can’t find it, use 4 tsp fast-action dried yeast.
This recipe uses a laminated croissant dough. Lamination refers to the fine layers of dough and butter brought about by repeated folding and rolling.
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