Quick Cinnamon Buns


Recipe adapted from Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing by America’s Test Kitchen Television Show, 10th Anniversary Best Recipes

Founder and Editor- Christopher Kimball

This recipe intrigued me; the idea of making cinnamon rolls without yeast and in about one-quarter of the time of a traditional cinnamon roll was something that I wanted to investigate.  The dough is quickly mixed all in one bowl and it is patted out rather than rolled out.  The recipe is a sort of cream biscuit (according to the book), “with buttermilk used in place of the cream, baking soda balancing the acidity of the buttermilk and melted butter added to restore some of the richness lost by not using cream in the first place”.

The writers and testers of this recipe compared it to a homemade cinnamon roll and claimed that these were just as tasty as their yeasty cousin.  So I set out to see if it was true.   First of all, I love how fast and easy it was to put together, it takes about 10-15 minutes to mix, pat and roll.  The baking takes about 22 minutes, followed by about a 5 minute cooling and glazing session.  All in all, it takes about 35-45 minutes for the entire procedure, whereas making yeast bread cinnamon rolls takes hours from start to finish.

Then came the taste test.  I felt that the amount of sugar used to sprinkle on the dough was quite excessive.  Next time I make these, I will probably cut back about 1/4 cup of the brown sugar and a few tablespoons of the granulated sugar.  The glaze is quite sweet (and there is a lot of it, I had some left over) and will more than make up for the deleted sugar.

The buns hold together well, the dough bakes up nice and plump and is tender and moist.  However, this is a biscuit dough and like most biscuits, these rolls must be consumed almost immediately (not usually a problem here) because biscuit dough does not keep well.  I have to say that they were pretty damn good.  The yeasty flavor is lacking, but after a bite or two you will completely forget about that.  Enjoy!

Filling Ingredients

3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (I used light brown sugar)

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon butter, melted (see note below)

Dough Ingredients

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting the work surface

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups buttermilk  (since I rarely have buttermilk in the house I substituted with vinegar, you can substitute for the buttermilk with 1 Tablespoon and 1/8 teaspoon vinegar or lemon juice and enough milk to equal 1 1/4 cup)

6 Tablespoons butter, melted (see note below)

Icing Ingredients

2 Tablespoons cream cheese, softened

2 Tablespoons buttermilk (I used 2 % milk)

1 cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

**note** Melted butter is used in the dough, filling, and to grease the pan.  The total amount is 8 Tablespoons (1 stick), melt it ahead of time and measure it out as you need it.



1. Move oven rack to the upper middle position in your oven, then preheat the oven to 425° F.

2. Pour 1 Tablespoon melted butter into a 9 inch cake pan and brush to coat the pan.


3. For the filling; Combine the sugars, spices and salt.  Add the melted butter and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles wet sand.


4. For the dough; Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk the buttermilk and 2 Tablespoons of the melted butter together in a measuring cup ( if you use the vinegar to make your buttermilk, you will notice that the butter clumps up once you add it to the measuring cup-it still works and tastes fine).

5. Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir until the liquid is absorbed.  The dough will be rough and ragged looking.


6. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead just until smooth.  Do not overknead because it will make the dough tough.  I pushed and folded my dough only about 5 or 6 times.




7. Pat the dough with your hands into a 9 inch by 12 inch rectangle.  Brush the dough with 2 Tablespoons of the melted butter.  Sprinkle with the filling, leaving a 1/2 inch wide border of plain dough around the edges.  Press the filling firmly into the dough.

8.  Starting at a long side, roll the dough, pressing lightly to form a tight log.  Pinch the seam to seal.  Place seam on bottom and slice the log into 8 pieces.


9. With your hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal the open edges and to keep the filling in place.  Place 1 roll in the center of the pan and the remaining 7 rolls around it.  Brush the last 2 Tablespoons of butter on the rolls.


10. Bake until the edges are golden brown, about 22-25 minutes.  Using a small off-set spatula, transfer the buns from the cake pan to the serving platter.  Cool for 5 minutes.


11. For the Icing; While the buns are cooling, whisk the cream cheese, vanilla and milk together until thick and smooth.  Add the powdered sugar and whisk until a smooth glaze forms.  Spoon the glaze over the rolls and serve.


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