Cinnamon Swirl Buns (with Icing!)

Happy Easter Everyone!

Holidays are natural excuses for dolling up and doling out the big guns, and when I say big guns, I mean plump pies with crimped crusts, cookies that look like they were decorated by a 4-star pastry chef and well, just about any sugary-sweet and perfectly-baked goodie that makes the whole family gasp, "WOW!"

Ron and I (because that is the extent of our "family") don't have the kind of expendable income for florescent-dyed baskets brimming with sugar-coated marshmallows and chocolate bunnies. I don't think we would go for that even if we did. But we still have a sweet tooth. I wish I had created a more au-natural Easter basket for the two of us filled with fair trade chocolate, fresh fruit, trail mix, shredded paper for the grass and some Cadbury eggs for good measure (There really is something addictive about all that candy we enjoyed as children, isn't there?), but I let the busy week get the better of me and instead of waking up to sucrose, fructose and glucose, we woke up to a barren kitchen bereft of bunny trails and all of the above. In fact, I didn't even dye eggs with onion peels like last year (see below). Shame on me!

Our Stradone family brunch wasn't until 1 p.m. We were up at 8:15. Five hours is just a bit too long to be without sustenance for us; low blood sugar sure makes us grumpy. So to counteract the potential for a sucrose dive or mid-day migraines (or more likely a bickering fight), Ron pulled out his go-to baking cookbook for ideas and inspiration, the Home Bakebook of Natural Breads & Goodies (circa 1972). And so the spontaneous Easter Cinnamon Swirl Bun was born. They are super light and fluffy, sweet and sticky. You'll want to hang by the kitchen for the oh-so-sweet smell, too.

Ingredients (yields 15 buns)

Basic Roll Recipe
  • 1 Tablespoon dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 Tablespoons raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups white flour
Cinnamon Bun Extras
  • 1/2 Cup of butter, melted, divided in half
  • 1/2 Cup raw sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon 
  • 2 Cups of powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 Teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tablespoons of heavy cream (you can substitute milk or water)

Generously grease a 9"x13" rectangular baking dish. Prepare the roll recipe first. In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the water and let dissolve (about 5 minutes). Stir in sugar, salt, butter and egg. Slowly stir in the flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface and knead until good and elastic, about 5-7 minutes, adding sifted flour to prevent sticking. Make a dough ball and flatten, then roll out to an approximate 9" x 18" rectangle, about 1/4"-1/2" thick. Brush on 1/4 cup of the melted butter. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon, then sprinkle atop the butter. Carefully fold in one long edge of the dough towards you and continue to roll until you have one long log. Using a sharp serrated knife, carefully cut off the uneven ends and discard. Make 15 equal-width rolls by making 14 cuts spaced evenly apart. (Each cut should be about 1" apart.)


Place buns equal-distant apart from each other, spiral side up, in the greased baking dish.
Cover and let rise in a warm location until doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 350˚.

Meanwhile, prepare the icing (!!!).  In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the sugar, butter and vanilla. Slowly whisk in the cream until your desired consistency is reached. (If you want it thicker, add less; thinner, add more.)

Once buns have doubled in size. Brush on the remaining 1/4 cup of melted butter. Pop in the preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes and then spread on icing.

Divide and devour!

Why not try something new and break out of the boring (yet oh-so-consistently-yummy) cinnamon bun rut. Next time we're gonna try adding chocolate chips to the cinnamon-sugar swirls. (It would be like a chocolate croissant, only better!) Ron recommended using orange blossom water and orange zest for the icing. You could also add your own mix of nuts, dried fruit or jam to the swirls. Almond slivers and raisins? Pistachios and dates? Go for it! Have fun and enjoy!

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