I spend a lot of time in the air, in the airport, or anticipating the next time I’ll be in a departure lounge.
Since moving abroad, I’ve become a relatively seasoned traveller: I’ve been averaging four long-haul flights a year for the past five and have developed quite strong opinions on everything from in-flight meal plans to pre-flight moisturiser (you probably need it).
Airports are a strangely comfortable space for me. They’re the buffer area between the strange, timeless flight and actually getting home (which is the word I confusingly use for both legs of my trip). And while I’ve got notable anecdotes from a variety of them (including a sixteen-hour Philadelphia experience and the joy of sourcing candy cigarettes in Detroit), my favourite airport moment happens every time I arrive into Chicago O’Hare. Specifically Terminal 3, Concourse G, where the sweet smell of Cinnabon follows every weary traveller.
Now, Cinnabon isn’t extraordinary. It’s not unique to Chicago. It’s not really noteworthy at all – unless you’re exhausted, it’s a weird time of day, you probably last ate six hours ago and you’re in a stuffy airport terminal. Suddenly Cinnabon gets elevated to otherworldly status. Nothing becomes as comforting or enticing as the scent of warm, sweet cinnamon floating through the air-conditioning vents.
Unfortunately, cinnamon buns are not as easy to recreate once you’ve touched down at home. Between mixing, rising, rising, and rising again it’s a lot of work. But luckily there’s a less labour-intensive method that is a no-brainer – there’s no yeast, so there’s no rising time. HOORAY.
No-Yeast Cinnamon Buns
YOU’RE GONNA NEED: a round 8/9 inch cake pan, a stand mixer with attached dough hook (it’s easier), parchment paper*
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp cinnamon (to be honest, I didn’t exactly measure this…)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp softened butter
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk*
4 tbsp melted butter, divided
2 tbsp softened butter
1. Preheat oven to 425F (about 220C). Grease the bottom of the cake pan with melted butter – about a tablespoon or so.
2. Combine the filling dry ingredients in a bowl and using a fork, cut in butter. It should be a bit crumbly, but dry. Set aside.
3. Prepare your dough: using the mixer, whisk together the dough dry ingredients. In a separate measuring jug, mix together the buttermilk and 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. Slowly add the buttermilk mix to the dry ingredients and mix using dough hook. Knead with hook for about a minute – a soft dough will form.
4. Place a sheet of parchment paper onto a clean work surface*. Press the dough into a rough rectangle (around 12×10 inches or so). Brush 2 tablespoons of softened butter onto the dough, then gently spread filling across the top. Press filling into the dough slightly. Starting at the long end, roll the dough into a log shape. Pinch the ends and cut off, then slice log into about 1 inch sections.
5. Arrange slices in the cake pan. Brush the tops with the last of the melted butter, then bake for about 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350F (about 180C), then bake for another 10 minutes until tops brown. Let cool slightly.
6. Prepare your glaze: whisk together powdered sugar and milk to form a thin glaze. Drizzle over tops of buns.
Parchment paper is also known in some circles as baking paper.
I never have buttermilk in my house. If you don’t either, just use whole milk and add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Let it stand for 3-5 minutes until thickened slightly.
Powdered sugar, confectioner’s sugar, 10x, icing sugar – this stuff has many titles.
Parchment paper makes this process a whole lot cleaner, but you can just lightly flour the work surface if you like. Be gentle when rolling the dough – do it slowly to avoid tears (that’s tears meaning both ‘rips’ and ‘crying’).
Cinnamon bun recipe adapted from Le Creme de la Crumb.