recipe showdown: cinnamon rolls

I like big buns and I cannot lie.  I would choose a warm, gooey, buttery cinnamon bun over chocolate cake any day.  Since they are always the star of the brunch table, they better be good.

This may have been my favorite experiment yet.  What would I rather do on a Monday night than play with pounds of butter, sweet brown sugar, and huge blocks of cream cheese? Um, nothing. 

Even hours after these magical buns came out of the oven, my entire house smelled like that heavenly corner of the food court near Cinnabon.  The aroma is so distinct, sweet, buttery — just the smell of Cinnabon can catch me halfway across the mall.

maple glazed cinnamon buns
clone of a cinnabon
This recipe was developed by none other than Ree Drummond,
the Pioneer Woman.  It has a unique,
maple coffee icing. I have made these buns in the past and finished almost
the entire tray singlehandedly.
This recipe has over 4500 five-star ratings on All
Recipes, and is said to taste even better
than the shopping mall favorite.
taster’s notes
unexpected taste
drenched in icing (is that a bad thing?)
classic cinnamon bun
better for breakfast
I prefer this one by a landslide
More traditional
I like the light-dark appearance of the icing and the bun
funny looking, but oh-so good!

Both of these buns were amazingly delicious, so it seems a
bit unfair to choose a “winner.”  Most of my taste testers favored
“clone of a cinnabon” due to its familier taste.  Plus, I have to admit
that the “clones” looked much prettier — swirled tight and slathered
with rich, tangy, cream cheese icing.

personally, I preferred Ree’s recipe for maple-glazed cinnamon buns. 
Despite their homely appearance, I found these much more addictive.  The
maple and the coffee flavors in the icing conjured up memories of
wonderful weekend breakfasts.

I brought both varieties to my English class this morning to try to narrow down the competition.  Although I did a great job distracting my class from The Great Gatsby with my icing-slathered buns, I did not do a great job narrowing down the competition. The “clones” were all chosen first.  However, everyone who tasted the maple-coffee variety raved about it.  It was a tough call. 

The verdict:
you are a traditionalist, the “clones” never fail to impress. Plus, they
are (slightly) less messy than the Pioneer Woman’s and present really

If you are looking for a sinful, sticky, highly addictive treat that should be eaten with a fork — make Ree’s.

With love,

P.S. Here is the link to Ree’s cinnamon buns 

Clone of A Cinnabon
{All Recipes}

1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups AP four
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start.
  2. After the
    dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface,
    cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar
    and cinnamon.
  3. Roll dough
    into a 16×21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and
    sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into
    12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking pan. Cover
    and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat
    oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  4. Bake rolls in
    preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are
    baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners’
    sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before

morning buns

A five star recipe. These were deemed by my family the best thing I have ever baked. I had heard so many things about the legendary morning buns from Tartine Bakery in San Francisco — and was curious to taste these illustrious cinnamon buns for myself.

Let me start off by saying these are not your average cinnamon rolls. What’s the
difference between a morning bun and a cinnamon roll? Morning buns are made with my perfect croissant dough that’s buttery, flaky, and shatters when you bite it, rather than a chewy, denser, more bread-like dough. They
are sprinkled with cinnamon, sugar, and orange zest, and
peel apart in delicate, fluffy layers.

I baked these for my dad’s Father’s Day Brunch, and my entire family raved about them. My dad’s old favorite were my cinnamon sugar croissants, and these are basically the same thing rolled to a new, crazy, cinnamon bun level.
What’s the best thing you’ve ever baked?
With love,

1 batch croissant dough (my simple recipe here)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 medium oranges
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
pinch salt

Follow all of the steps from here until the last one indicating form croissants. You will prepare your rolls the day before, to be cooked the following day.  Mix together the sugars with the zest, cinnamon, and salt. Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it into a rectangle, about 12 x 20″. Mist it with water from the spray bottle. Cover with the sugar mixture and roll it into a log. Cut into 12 equal rolls and place them into oiled muffin pans. Cover with
plastic wrap and let proof in a warm room for 1 hour (min 70 F) before
placing them in the fridge for 8 hours min, or overnight.  The next morning, take the rolls out of the fridge and let rest at
room temperature for 1 hour. Then preheat your oven at 385 F and cook
the rolls for about 20 min. Pop the rolls out of the pan when you take them out of the oven, or else they will stick to the pan when they cool.

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande

cinnamon bun muffins (in half an hour!)

You all know about my slightly insane love for cinnamon. Nothing beats a warm, buttery cinnamon bun for breakfast — but since the recipe usually calls for a yeasted dough, they take overnight planning to make, which a little too much hassle for all of us busy people with a weekday cinnamon craving! These muffins are big, buttery, and full of fragrant, ground cinnamon, the perfect substitute for traditional yeasted buns. When they take only a half an hour from start to finish, why not treat your family to a cinnamon-filled weekday breakfast sometimes? Oh, and nothing beats how delicious your kitchen will smell with these heavenly muffins baking in the oven.
With love,

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Makes 12

1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
3 cups flour

5 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 tsp cinnamon

1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, baking soda, salt, vanilla and egg. Add the buttermilk, then the flour. Stir until thoroughly combined.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for two minutes. Roll the dough into a 12-inch by 24-inch rectangle. 
  4. Spread with butter, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  5. Roll the dough into a log beginning with the wide side. Stretch the log slightly as you roll to keep it tightly rolled. 
  6. Cut the log into 12 even pieces
  7. Place the rolls swirly side up in a greased muffin pan
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the muffins to cool for about 5 minutes, then remove them from pans to a cooling rack. Combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over the top