Daring Bakers Challenge : Cinnamon Buns


When I think of yeast, the words : Sea Monkeys, come to mind.

My mom used to keep a jar of dried yeast in our fridge. Having been told the yeasts in there were alive but sleeping, the jar was a constant source of wonder to me. Sometimes when I went to the fridge for some milk or a piece of fruit, I would happen to glance at the jar and pick it up, inspecting it as carefully as I could, almost convincing myself that I could see them moving inside. As I shook the jar, a couple of the light brown specks would stick to the sides of the glass, and these were the ones I imagined were alive, holding on to each other, trying to survive the sudden earthquake.

The illustrations on the front of Sea Monkey product I bought as a kid had me imagining that little yeasts would resemble their aquamarine friends somewhat. A King Yeast and a Queen Yeast with her plump and rosy smile, and their cute little yeasty children. We feed the yeasts and keep them warm, encouraging them to grow, but then we kill them with a blast of heat… which strangely enough, is almost the same way my Sea Monkeys eventually perished. Ah, the humidity!

King and Queen Yeast found their way into the Daring Bakers challenge this month. The objective was to bake a batch of cinnamon or sticky buns from a recipe by Peter Reinhart.

I’ve made similar buns before, but must say, the results from this recipe were pretty impressive. For starters, I loved the silky soft and pliable dough, which was such a pleasure to work with. Then, my favourite bit, which was sprinkling on the filling and rolling up the dough into a log. For fun, I used a fragrant spice mix from Herbies Spices which contained rose petals, poppyseeds and cinnamon, amongst other things. When the buns were pulled out of the oven, they were a gorgeous golden brown, and smelled absolutely divine. Not waiting the relevant minutes after baking and icing, I bit into one as soon as possible, and was rewarded with the taste of sweet, spicy, buttery, tender bread.

Cinnamon Buns :

92g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
80g unsalted butter
zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
454g bread flour
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/8 – 1 1/4 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

1. Cream together the sugar, salt, and butter on medium-high speed in an electric mixer with a paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and lemon extract/zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and increase the speed to medium, mixing for approximately 10 minutes, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. You may have to add a little flour or water while mixing to achieve this texture. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

2. Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

3. Mist the counter with spray oil and transfer the dough to the counter. Roll out the dough with a rolling pin, lightly dusting the top with flour to keep it from sticking to the pin. Roll it into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick and 14 inches wide by 12 inches long for larger buns, or 18 inches wide by 9 inches long for smaller buns. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the surface of the dough and roll the dough up into a cigar-shaped log, creating a cinnamon-sugar spiral as you roll. With the seam side down, cut the dough into 8 to 12 pieces each about 1 3/4 inches thick for larger buns, or 12 to 16 pieces each 1 1/4 inch thick for smaller buns.

4. Line a sheet pan with baking parchment. Place the buns approximately 1/2 inch apart so that they arenΒ΄t touching but are close to one another.

5. Proof at room temperature for 75 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces have grown into one another and have nearly doubled in size.

6. Preheat the oven to 175Β°C with the oven rack in the middle shelf. Bake the cinnamon buns for 20 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown.

8. Cool the buns in the pan for about 10 minutes and then streak white fondant glaze across the tops, while the buns are warm but not too hot. Remove the buns from the pans and place them on a cooling rack. Wait for at least 20 minutes before serving.

White fondant glaze for cinnamon buns :

Sift 4 cups of powdered sugar into a bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon or orange extract and 6 tablespoons to 1/2 cup of warm milk, briskly whisking until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the milk slowly and only as much as is needed to make a thick, smooth paste.

db-cinnamonbuns-dough4.jpg db-cinnamonbuns.jpg


  1. Marce said,

    September 30, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

    Your comparison is dead on! IΒ΄m glad you liked the challenge this month, that spice mix sounds great and the buns look adorable.

  2. Duncan | Syrup&Tang said,

    September 30, 2007 @ 12:34 pm

    These sound utterly delicious! Especially with that spice mix in there.

  3. Laurie said,

    September 30, 2007 @ 2:03 pm

    You crack me up, Too funny! Job well done Id say. They look fantastic! xo

  4. KJ said,

    September 30, 2007 @ 7:15 pm

    Yum, the spice mix you used sounds delicious. I’m sure your buns tasted fabulous.

  5. peabody said,

    September 30, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

    Now I will always think of sea monkeys when I cook with yeast. πŸ™‚
    Great job.

  6. Anne said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 2:12 am

    Loved the yeast story! πŸ™‚ The buns look great!

  7. Katie said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 5:35 am

    Your buns look great. The unual spice filling you used sounds wonderfully fragrant.

  8. Maryann said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 6:12 am

    Nice job πŸ™‚

  9. breadchick said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 6:45 am

    LOVE the Sea Monkey comparison. Like Peabody, I will never look at my yeast jars and containers in the fridge without thinking of Queen and King Yeast! Great job on the challenge this month!

  10. Jenny said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 9:06 am

    The spice mix you used sounds SO amazing, and I love the sea monkey story. πŸ™‚

  11. Ivonne said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 9:43 am

    What an absolutely funny post! I love your childhood imaginings of what yeast was! Congratulations on your buns!

  12. Belinda said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 1:13 pm

    Oh, wow, a spice mix including rose petals…that sounds so intriguing! And I loved your story about your childhood and the jar of “living” yeast in the refrigerator. Your cinnamon buns look lovely! πŸ™‚

  13. brilynn said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

    Ha! I love your sea monkey story! The buns look great!

  14. Dolores said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 6:57 pm

    Ah… I remember sea monkeys, and even my adult eye sees their similarity to living breathing yeast. Thanks for sharing your story and causing my imagination to wander.

    I know I’m going to be repeating this recipe throughout the fall and winter months, and I’ve bookmarked several new daring bakers spice combinations to employ. Rose petal sounds delightful for the transition into early spring…

  15. Anne said,

    October 1, 2007 @ 11:43 pm

    glad you enjoyed the challenge πŸ™‚ well done!

  16. Deborah said,

    October 2, 2007 @ 5:49 am

    Now I’m going to be making up stories about yeast families or kingdoms whenever I take the yeast from the refrigerator!! Your buns look wonderful!

  17. Lisa said,

    October 2, 2007 @ 10:29 am

    I loved Sea Monkeys! And yes, I’ll be thinking of them every time I take my jar of yeast out of the freezer. heeee!

    I love the combo of the rose petals, cinnamon & poppy seeds – sounds so fragrant and wonderful!

    You did a beautiful job this month, Y! Congrats!


  18. Tartelette said,

    October 2, 2007 @ 2:52 pm

    Great success! Your buns look impressive! Loved the story, made me laugh because this is something I would have done! Those spices sound very tempting!

  19. MyKitchenInHalfCups said,

    October 2, 2007 @ 3:50 pm

    That is such a delightful childhood memory and story. Must remember that one if I ever have grandchildren.
    I love the idea of the rose spice!! Then it makes me wonder about honey and lavender.

  20. maria~ said,

    October 3, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

    Yummers, your glazing work is so neat and pretty!

  21. Annemarie said,

    October 4, 2007 @ 12:48 am

    I will also never look at yeast the same way again. It’s a wonder you felt like you could take up baking, though, with such a powerful association. Great buns, by the way.

  22. Aoife said,

    October 4, 2007 @ 4:31 am

    Rosepetals and poppyseeds, how exotic. One might say that they’re fit for a king (and queen)!

  23. Julie said,

    October 4, 2007 @ 4:00 pm

    “Ah, the humidity!” You’re too funny! Having had sea monkeys, too, at one point, I’ll never look at yeast the same way again, though. =P

    So did you buns smell like roses?

  24. baking soda said,

    October 4, 2007 @ 5:36 pm

    Artsy buns! Love the story, can I admit here that I still look at my glass jar with awe?

  25. Y said,

    October 4, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

    *takes a deep breath*

    Ok, haven’t had to deal with so many/any comments before.. hehe.
    A huge thank you to everyone for visiting and leaving comments. Muchly appreciate the support, and I’m looking forward to future DB challenges πŸ™‚

    On to any questions that needed answering..

    Dolores: Actually, I still fondly remember my last collection of Sea Monkeys, and the bitter disappointment when they dwindled down to one. And then none. :-/

    MyKitchenInHalfCups: Lavender buns! Now that’s an idea!

    Annemarie: Well, at the end of the day, Sea Monkeys are just brine shrimp, and brine shrimp are really just miniature prawns to me. And prawns = YUM.

    Now that I think about it, I found out that Sea Monkeys were really just brine shrimp, before I ever owned any. It’s a bit like knowing the twist in The Sixth Sense before watching the movie!

    Julie: Hehe.. wouldn’t say they smelled like roses, but there was certainly a slight perfumey touch to them. Mostly cinnamon and cardamomy otherwise. I also liked the inclusion of poppyseeds, whose bold speckled appearance created a bit more interest.

    baking soda : Me too. Me too πŸ™‚

  26. Elle said,

    October 5, 2007 @ 1:52 pm

    Can just imagine you biting into that warm, spicy bread straight from the oven. Lovely! Had not thought of the Sea Monkeys in the same breath as yeast, but I can see your point and love the whimsy. Great post!

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