A hot cinnamon bun dripping with icing and sticky with brown sugary sweetness is one of life’s great indulgences. I like making them at home from time to time, but many prefer to buy them as a treat when they’re out and about. There is something to be said for buying them from a coffee shop or bakery, too. You get instant gratification and portion control. You don’t, however, get the satisfaction of baking them yourself, nor do you get to fill up your house with the smell of fresh cinnamon buns – a scent that is almost as good as the first mouthful of a fresh batch.
Regular cinnamon buns start out with a sweet yeast dough that is rolled out, then spread with a butter and brown sugar filling, before being rolled up into neat little buns and baked. This recipe eliminates all of those steps, delivering a pan full of cinnamon bun goodness in less than an hour!
The recipe, adapted from a recipe found on a container of rapid rise yeast, doesn’t give you real cinnamon rolls – no rolling involved, remember? – but it uses all the same ingredients and flavor elements, just combined in a faster and easier form. The dough is mixed up and poured into a prepared baking dish. After a mere 15 minutes of rising time, during which you can prep the filling/topping, a brown sugar streusel mixture (a typical cinnamon bun filling) is pressed into the dough. The whole thing is popped into a non-preheated oven and baked until done. The bread doesn’t look as gorgeous as a tray full of cinnamon buns, but once the icing is drizzled on it looks equally tempting.
The bread has a slightly cakey texture to it, with a rather tender texture instead of a chewy one, as there is virtually no time to allow for gluten to develop here. The dough still tastes quite rich, especially with the topping mixed into it. It tastes just like regular cinnamon buns and is outrageously good when warmed up. This is the perfect thing to whip up on a weekend morning or a weeknight for dessert: little prep, little cleanup and big flavor rewards.
Quick and Easy Cinnamon Bun Bread
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 tsp active dry or rapid rise yeast
2/3 cup warm milk (100-110F; low fat is fine)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cardamom
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 tbsp milk or cream
Lightly grease an 8×8-inch square baking pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Dissolve the yeast in a measuring cup filled with the warmed milk, then stir milk mixture, vegetable oil, vanilla extract and egg into the flour mixture. Mix well, until very smooth. Pour into prepared pan and let rest for 15 minutes.
While the dough rests, mix together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom in a small bowl using a fork until all the butter has been incorporated into the sugar and mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of rested dough and press the mixture down into the dough with your fingertips (or swirl in with a spatula.)
Place pan into a cold oven, then set the oven temperature to 350F.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until bread is lightly browned at the edges and the center of the bread springs back when lightly pressed. Some of the sugar mixture on top may still be bubbling.
Cool for at least 30 minutes before whisking the powdered sugar and milk together to form an icing and drizzling it onto the bread.
Serve warm. Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave.