I have a strange fixation with this recipe. It was the first thing I made from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, and it was perfect—fast, heavenly cinnamon rolls from my own oven.
But when I tried to repeat this home baking triumph, something was slightly off, time and again. I've never managed to match that ideal first batch; perhaps my memory is playing tricks on me? No matter—even when the dough seems hard to work with or the finished buns are a little underbaked, they are still homemade cinnamon buns that come together in less than an hour. You can't beat that.
The dough can indeed be difficult to work with, very sticky and all but impossible to knead. Then it will be hard to slice into rolls and scrape off your counter. Just soldier on—the buns will taste great even if they aren't picture-perfect. I like to use a muffin tin to make twelve individual rolls, so that there are more gooey centers and more caramelized edges, but I've also included the original recipe's instructions for making eight pull-apart buns in a cake tin.
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for the counter
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups plus about 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- About 3/4 cup powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 425°. Make the filling: stir together the brown sugar, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and 1 tablespoon melted butter until the mixture resembles wet sand.
Press the dough out into a 9 by 12 inch rectangle using your hands. Brush the dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle evenly with the filling, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Press the filling firmly into the dough.
Turn the buns out onto a greased wire rack and then turn right side up. Let cool for at least 5 minutes while you make the glaze.
Whisk buttermilk into the powdered sugar until you have a glaze that tastes balanced to you. Whisk until smooth and drizzle over the rolls.
To make 8 pull-apart rolls as in the original recipe: In step 4, slice the dough into 8 pieces, not 12. Put the slices in a greased 9-inch round cake pan, preferably nonstick. Sprinkle over any lost filling and drizzle with butter. Bake 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.