Just like every other person on the planet, I love cinnamon buns. These springy and soft buns are rolled with spices, tea-soaked fruit and orange zest for a wintery treat that will appeal to all your senses at once. The heady scent of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg will waft through your house as these addictive and super-soft spiced buns bake. Once finished, they are a handsome shade of golden perfection, made even more inviting by the snow-white icing steaks. It isn’t easy to decide what makes this recipe so great; the bun’s cloud-like centre or the buttery edges, crusted with demerara sugar. Either way, it’ll be a challenge to stop at just one.
Although making the enriched dough by hand may seem like a lot of work, it’s relatively easy and hands-off once you get the hang of it. You will get a good result if you use active yeast (either fresh or the instant kind,) knead the dough until it is shiny and smooth and allow enough time for proving. After this process, the dough is rolled out into a large rectangle, spread with softened butter, sprinkled with crunchy sugar and covered in plump soaked fruit. All that’s left to do is to roll it into a tight log, cut it into slices and arrange it on a tray for a second rise. The benefit of the roll and slice method is that you don’t have to be very experienced in dough shaping to get a well-shaped, baked bun at the end.
These cinnamon spiced buns would make a wonderful weekend-brunch treat or would be perfect for a winter-time afternoon tea (or anytime for that matter!) If you’re not a fan of dried fruit, feel free to omit it entirely, the buns will still be golden, crusty and delicious without it.
Super Soft Cinnamon Fruit Buns
Pillow-soft, enriched dough rolled with brown sugar, sweet spices and black-tea steeped fruit.
- Soaked Fruit
- 170g Mixed dried Cranberries and Sultanas (chopped up if they are very large)
- 2 Black Tea Bags
- 350ml Boiled Water
- 100ml Whole Milk – warmed to 37°C
- 25g Fresh Yeast or 12.5g Instant dried yeast
- 50ml Whipping Cream
- 62g Caster Sugar
- ¼ Tsp Fine Sea Salt
- 50g Soft Unsalted Butter
- 1 Medium Egg Beaten
- 350g Strong White Flour
- 100g Soft Butter
- Zest of 1 Orange
- 1 tsp Ground Ginger
- 1 tsp Ground Cinamon
- ½ tsp Ground Nutmeg
- 50g Demera Sugar
- Egg Wash:
- 1 Egg
- 1tbsp Milk
- To Decorate
- 120g Icing Sugar- Sifted
- 1 Tbsp Water
Begin by preparing the soaked fruit filling. Boil 350ml water. Put two black tea bags into a saucepan and pour over the boiled water. Allow it to steep for 5-10 minutes until you have a concentrated tea. Remove the tea bags and pour it over the dried fruit. Cover with clingfilm or a saucepan lid and let the fruit soak for at least 30 mins, (but ideally longer; until the fruit is very soft and moist.)
You can now begin to make the dough while you wait for the fruit to soak. If there is still a lot of excess liquid after the allotted time, drain the fruit and set it aside.
Heat the milk gently to 37°C (lukewarm if you don’t have a thermometer) and add the yeast. If you are using fresh yeast, crumble it into the milk and mix until it dissolves.
Pour the milk and dissolved yeast into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the cream, sugar, salt, butter, and egg followed by the flour and start the mixer.
Allow the mixer to run at medium speed until all the ingredients have formed a cohesive dough. If it seems dry and stiff, add a little milk at a time until a soft, pliable consistency is reached.
This dough required quite a lot kneading (20 minutes at medium speed in our mixer). The finished dough will be very smooth, elastic and glossy in appearance.
Once the dough is very smooth and shiny, take it out of the mixer and give it a very brief knead by hand to form it into a ball. Place in a clean bowl that will allow the dough to double in size without escaping and cover loosely with either a clean linen cloth or teatowel. A loosely gathered black plastic bag to cover the dough is an excellent option. It helps to contain the heat, which is especially useful in cold or drafty rooms.
Leave the dough to prove until it is doubled in size and when pressed with a fingertip, leaves a faint suggestion of an impression. The time it takes to prove the dough will depend on several factors, such as yeast activity and temperature. It will take 30-40 minutes in ideal conditions. If the dough is rising very slowly, try moving it to a warmer location.
While the dough is rising, prepare the fillings by softening the butter and orange zest together.
Next, mix the spices with the sugar and set aside until required.
Putting it all together
When the dough has doubled in size, preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F.
Carefully tip the dough onto a floured work surface and roll it into a rectangle of approximately 30x20cm. (It can be helpful to roll the dough on baking paper to make it easier to roll-up when you have added the fillings.)
Place the dough with the long edge facing you and spread it with an even layer of the softened butter/orange zest mixture. Spread the butter to three of the edges except for the long edge furthest away from you. Leave a 1-inch strip uncovered on this long edge.
Sprinkle liberally with the spices and sugar mixture and then cover with the fruit.
Roll the dough away from you as tightly as possible, finishing with the unbuttered 1-inch strip underneath the roll.
Cut the roll into slices and arrange them on a baking tray lined with paper. Leave the buns, carefully covered with a clean linen cloth or tea towel until they are doubled in size again. You can tell the buns are ready for baking when they look plump and large. If the dough begins to look saggy, they have over-proofed a little. (Worry not, they will still be delicious!)
When the buns are ready to be baked brush with egg wash and immediately put them in the oven. The cooking time will vary depending on thickness and oven type, as a guide the buns can take between 12-25 minutes to cook.
When the buns are cooled, you can decorate them with piped lines of white icing. Mix the icing by adding water bit-by-bit to the icing sugar until it makes a thick, pipable paste that holds its shape.