The winter holidays are a time to spend with friends and family, no matter what your personal beliefs. This means a pile of extra cooking and cleaning. It also means that you should plan as many make-ahead dishes as you can, so you can produce food for unexpected and unexpected guests alike without having to miss out on time visiting with them. They’re also great when you’re heading back into a school session and want some hot breakfasts ready.
Today I’d like to share my recipe for make-ahead cinnamon buns that you can freeze and then put straight into the oven. I’ve tweaked it over about 25 years from a number of different cinnamon bun and other dough recipes I’ve tried, taking the best and discarding any labor-intensive parts that didn’t make sense to me.
I generally triple this recipe and bake one right away when the smell starts inducing begging in household members.
Erin’s Make-Ahead Cinnamon Buns (makes 12)
1 cup melted butter, plus another 2 tbsp for later
1 cup milk (goat, cow, and plain soy all have worked equally well for me here)
3/4 cup sugar
4 tsp dry yeast
3/4 tsp salt
Approximately 5.5-6.5 cups of flour (I prefer unbleached organic but all-purpose will work too)
2 large eggs
(optional) raisins, pecans, or walnuts for the filling
Heat the milk to a light boil on medium heat (bubbling across the surface), stirring the entire time so it doesn’t burn to the bottom. I melt my butter on very low heat at the same time in another pan. Pour the butter into the milk, and add your sugar and salt. Let it cool until you can dip your finger in easily without wincing.
Stir in your yeast and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Add your well-beaten eggs, then half of the flour. I use a wooden spoon so I can feel it better.
Add the rest of the flour a cup at a time until it’s just pulling away from the sides of the bowl as you stir. This is a really soft dough, so don’t go overboard.
Grease a metal bowl with your butter wrapper and move the dough into it. Let it rise on your lowest oven setting until it’s doubled, usually around an hour but check after 45 minutes.
Take your dough out and flatten it into a large rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.
Spread the melted butter across the dough, to about 1/4 inch from each edge. Shake brown sugar and cinnamon across it evenly to cover. This is also where you’ll add your optional nuts or raisins across the dough if you’re using them.
Roll it lengthwise into a log and pinch the ends together a bit. Slice into a dozen even circles and put them into a greased baking dish, sides touching lightly. Let them rise again for another hour or so.
Now: Cover them with foil and put them right into your freezer. When you need them, stick them into a cool oven and turn it to 400 F. Check after 20 minutes; in my oven it takes roughly 25 until they are golden brown on top. (It takes 18-20 if you’re baking them instead of freezing.)
Eat and enjoy! What do you like to put in/on your cinnamon buns? Share in the comments!