Cinnamon buns are a classic, a yearly staple for Christmas brunch at the Romano’s table. Ever since I can remember we’ve always had them along side a table full of timeless breakfast foods; my dad’s famous omelette with cheese and vegetables, potato hash, bbq’d back bacon, fruit and the list goes on and on. There’s enough food to keep us full until the table is re-filled for the night’s feast of turkey dinner.
And what a feast it is! But that’s another story.
Last weekend a good group of friends got together at the cottage to celebrate some holiday cheer. Because of the holidays and this classic tradition that our family has, I wanted to share and pass those on to my friends. Between all of us we shared the meals and the workload. I knew instantly that I wanted to make cinnamon buns for brunch.
Instead of the classic recipe I made a few changes to make them a little more festive – jam packed with tart cranberries and toasted pecans with a dash of nutmeg! These tweaks made our meal just a wee merrier than the usual cinnamon bun recipe.
With only a few left in the dish and bellies full, I’d say we had a successful brunch!
- Full milk
- Granulated sugar, brown sugar & icing sugar
- Unsalted butter
- Active dry yeast
- All-purpose flour
- Frozen cranberries
- Almond extract
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground nutmeg
How to Make Overnight Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Buns
If you want fresh hot out of the oven cinnamon buns first thing in the morning you can simply prepare the buns the night before and then place them in the refrigerator to rest. Pull them out in the morning and bake away. Follow the recipe as directed and once you reach instruction #11 cover the buns tightly with plastic wrap and place them in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning take them out first thing, then preheat the oven (this will give the cinnamon buns time to come down in temperature before baking). Then continue to follow the recipe.
Tips to Making Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Buns
- The temperature of the yeast is important to activate it properly. Keep the milk between 110° and 115°F. If it’s cooler the yeast may not activate and if it’s hotter you may kill the yeast before it can help the dough rise.
- Flour can be difficult to gauge. Just remember to go easy at first and add as you go. If you add too much flour the rolls will be dry and tough. Not enough flour and the buns won’t have any structure to rise. This normally takes practice to get the right feel, so keep at it!
- Roll the dough into a log as tight as possible. This can be difficult when it’s full of cranberries and nuts but if it’s too loose the buttery, cinnamon filling will fall to the bottom of the pan.
- For fresh cinnamon buns in the morning refrigerate the dough overnight. This is also great to do as working with a colder dough is easier for rolling out and rolling the filling. Do this stage after the first rise in the recipe.
- You can use fresh or frozen cranberries, either work so don’t fret!
- Don’t overbake your buns. You don’t want crispy hard dough, just bake them until browned and the centre is set.
How to Make Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Buns
Step One: Make your dough. Heat milk, sugar and butter together in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved and the butter is melted. Turn off heat and let cool until lukewarm. Meanwhile, in a large bowl add warm water, yeast and sugar. Let rest approx. 10 minutes until foamy and frothy. Add the milk mixture, eggs, flour, and salt to your yeast. Knead the dough for approx. 8 minutes until smooth and elastic (add more flour if needed) and when poked with your finger the dough springs back. Form dough into a ball and place in a greased large bowl, cover, and let rest until doubled in size, approx. 1 – 1½ hours.
Step Two: Once dough is doubled in size, roll it into a large rectangle approx. 13 inches x 9 inches. Spread butter over the entire rectangle. In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together then spoon the sugar mixture over the butter. Sprinkle the cranberries and chopped pecans evenly over and gently press into the dough. Starting at the long side of the rectangle, tightly roll into a log. Using a serrated knife, cut rolls approximately 1 inch thick and place into a buttered 9×13 baking dish (or two small dishes). Cover and let rest for 20-30 mins.
Step Three: Place cinnamon buns in the oven and bake. Let cinnamon buns cool on a cooling rack before icing.
Cranberry Pecan Cinnamon Buns
These cranberry pecan cinnamon buns are jam packed with tart cranberries and toasted pecans with a dash of nutmeg. They make the perfect change from the usual cinnamon bun, making your holidays more festive.
- Prep Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 3 hours 25 mins
- Yield: 16 1x
- Category: Bread
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
- 1/2 cup full milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar, separated
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 3 – 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1/2 cup toasted pecans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1–2 tablespoons hot water
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- In a small saucepan, heat milk, sugar (all but 2 teaspoons of the sugar) and butter together until sugar has dissolved and butter is melted. Turn off heat and let cool until lukewarm.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl add warm water, yeast and the 2 teaspoons of the remaining sugar. Let rest approx. 10 minutes until frothy.
- Add milk mixture, eggs, 3 cups of the flour, and salt to your yeast. Mix dough together and then knead dough for approx. 8 minutes until smooth and elastic (add more flour if needed). You’ll know the dough is ready when you poke it with your finger and the dough springs back.
- Form the dough into a ball and place in a greased (oiled) large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest until doubled in size, approx. 1 – 1½ hours.
- Once dough is doubled in size, place it on a lightly floured work surface and punch dough down. Roll into a large rectangle approx. 13 inches x 9 inches.
- Spread butter over the entire rectangle leaving about ½ inch from the edges.
- In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Spoon the sugar mixture over the butter and press down. Sprinkle the cranberries and chopped pecans evenly over the entire surface and gently press into dough.
- Starting at the long side of the rectangle, tightly roll into a log pinching the seam to seal.
- Using a serrated knife, cut rolls approximately 1 inch thick and place into a buttered 9×13 baking dish (you can also divide the rolls into two baking pans).
- Cover with plastic and let rest for 20-30 mins, until puffed and doubled.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Place cinnamon buns in the middle of the preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.
- Let cinnamon buns cool on a cooling rack.
- Make your icing. Add all ingredients together and whisk until smooth. Add more water for a thinner icing or more icing sugar for a thicker icing. Drizzle or spoon icing over the tops, serve warm.
Store cranberry cinnamon buns covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the microwave or in the oven at 350˚F for approx. 8 minutes.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 373
- Sugar: 17g
- Sodium: 198mg
- Fat: 23.3g
- Saturated Fat: 11g.1
- Unsaturated Fat: 0
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 38.3g
- Fiber: 2.2g
- Protein: 4.9
- Cholesterol: 71mg
Keywords: Breakfast, Cinnamon Buns, Cranberry, Christmas, Brunch
Dense cinnamon buns can happen when the dough is either over worked or not worked enough. More commonly it’s when the dough hasn’t been kneaded long enough to develop the glutens and structure within the dough. It’s also very important to make sure the dough has had the right amount of time to rest and double in size. If the dough hasn’t doubled in size this can also cause dense dough.
Collapsed cinnamon buns normally means the dough has overproofed. If the dough is left to rise for too long the gluten structure will break down, causing the buns to collapse when baked. You can tell if the dough is over proofed if it’s overly puffy with lots of bubbles (gasses that has escaped).
Cinnamon buns should be golden brown all over, not just on the edges. Use a spatula to lift up one of the buns from the center of the pan. If the bottom is golden brown, it’s a good indication that the rest of the buns are done as well.Baking in a glass dish can be helpful when baking cinnamon buns. This makes it easier to see the bottoms of the buns.
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