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Step-by-step cinnamon buns: Here's how to make them without breaking a sweat

Cinnamon buns are known for their intoxicating smell that lingers and draws you in to take another bite… and another. These are so easy to make and utterly irresistible.

by: Illanique van Aswegen | 18 Nov 2019
Step-by-step cinnamon buns

Walking past a counter that sells freshly baked cinnamon buns is nearly impossible. These sticky buns are sweet and buttery with a crisp crust and tender interior while generously spiced with cinnamon. It’s comfort food at its best.

The tradition

Cinnamon buns hail from up north in the Scandinavia region and are enjoyed as a sweet coffee or tea-time nibble. The Americans munch on them for breakfast and have taken it up a notch by adding the sweet cream-cheese glaze we’ve come to love.

The trick

The dough needs time to rise and double up once you’ve arranged it in the pan. The rising time, combined with the butter, creates layers in the dough that provide you with a tender, almost gooey texture once baked. Always make sure you cover the dough with a clean cloth (or plastic wrap, if it’s in a deep bowl). This keeps the heat in during rising and prevents the dough from drying out.

The secret

Use the best ingredients you can find. These buns contain basic ingredients, but using real butter and good-quality spices and syrup makes all the difference. Tepid water combined with sugar activates the yeast to do its job. Make sure the water isn’t too hot or cold. Tepid water is 2 parts cold and 1 part hot water and should be around 40°C.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns

Makes 8


Preparation time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


Combine 125ml tepid water, 11.25ml instant yeast and 5ml sugar in a bowl and set aside until foamy, 5 minutes.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Combine 750ml (375g) cake flour, 180ml warm milk, 80ml sunflower oil, 45ml (3 tbsp) brown sugar, 5ml (1 tsp) salt, 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence and 2.5ml ground cardamom seeds in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the yeast mixture.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Using a wooden spoon, mix until mostly combined.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Turn the mixture out on a clean surface and knead until smooth, 2 minutes.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover and set aside to rise in a warm place, 15 minutes.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Roll the dough out into a rectangular shape that is roughly 0.5cm thick and 30cm x 20cm wide.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Spread 80ml (75g) softened salted butter over the dough. Combine 160ml (133g) brown sugar with 15ml (1 tbsp) of ground cinnamon and sprinkle this over the butter.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


If you prefer, you can trim the dough to neaten up the edges. Starting from one of the longest sides of the dough, roll the dough up fairly tightly. Cut the dough into 8 pieces that are roughly 3.5cm to 4.5cm in width.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns



Arrange the dough pieces in a lined medium-sized square or rectangular baking tin. Cover and set aside in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Preheat the oven to 180°C and bake for 25 to 28 minutes until the buns are golden in colour, the edges are crisp to the touch, but the centres are still slightly tender.

Step-by-step cinnamon buns


Make the glaze by blending 80g plain cream cheese, 10ml (2 tsp) soft butter, 20ml (4 tsp) milk, 30ml (2 tbsp) maple syrup and 5ml (1 tsp) vanilla essence until smooth. 

Spoon it over the warm buns. 

Step-by-step cinnamon buns

Eat warm.

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