Here is the recipe(s) for the cinnamon buns. The recipe for the buns is from the Better Homes and Gardens 2003 Holiday Baking issue. I like it because it uses fast-rising (instant) yeast and doesn't require a long proofing time. The topping is from the June/July 2003 issue of Saveur.
2 cups brown sugar (I used dark brown--used the full amount, it was almost too much maybe 1 3/4 next time)
1/2 cup milk
8 tbsp. butter (I used unsalted)
3/4 cup shelled pecans, chopped--optional, (I used almost 1 1/2 cup, it's the kids' favourite part)
4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 pkg. fast-rising active dry yeast
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup butter, softened (I used unsalted)
1/3 cup sugar
4 tsp. cinnamon (this time I used 3 1/2 tsp., the last time I used the full amount and found it too much)
1. Grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan (I used 2 9-inch round pans) and set aside. For the topping: combine the sugar, milk and butter in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the butter melts, 5-8 minutes. Let cool slightly and pour into prepared pan(s), sprinkle with the chopped pecans. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour and the yeast. In a small saucepan, combine milk, the water, the 1/2 cup sugar, the oil and salt. Heat and stir over medium heat just until warm (120⁰F to 130⁰F).
3. Add milk mixture and egg yolks to flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough that is smooth and elastic, 3 to 5 minutes total. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.
(I just used my stand mixer with the paddle for step 3 and the dough hook for step 4. I used the mixer until the flour was all mixed in and took the dough out and kneaded it by hand since Liam likes to help with this part. But you could just let the mixer do the kneading.)
5. Roll dough into a 14x12-inch rectangle. Spread with softened butter. In a small bowl, combine the 1/3 cup sugar and the cinnamon; sprinkle over the butter.
(You could just mix the butter, sugar and cinnamon together and spread it on the dough, leaving a border at the top and bottom. I find this makes it easier to roll and makes it neater when cutting the dough--you won't have sugar and cinnamon falling out.)
6. Starting from a long side, roll up dough rectangle; seal seam. Slice into 12 pieces. Place pieces in prepared pan. Cover; let rise in a warm place until nearly double in size (about 20 minutes). Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
(I covered the pans and put them in the oven with a pan of very hot water. The buns wouldn't have budged if I had let them rise on the counter in my cold kitchen.)
7. Bake rolls in the preheated oven about 20 minutes or until golden. Cool slightly in pan on a wire rack; remove from pan.
(Don't overbake, I did it once and the caramel topping dried up. To remove the rolls from the pan, just put a plate over the pan and invert.)
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