If I could order up the perfect breakfast, it would definitely include warm, homemade cinnamon rolls swirled with a spiced filling and drizzled with a sweet white icing. As much as I love these rich, fragrant buns, I often don’t have the time or haven’t planned far enough in advance to make the yeast-leavened dough called for in most recipes. But several years ago, I discovered a shortcut method that makes light, tender buns in about 45 minutes—no lie.
The idea came to me during the time I owned and operated a bakery in Connecticut called Great Cakes. Our famous yeast-risen cinnamon rolls sold out quickly every Sunday morning, and week after week, we continued to get special orders for these delectable treats. One Sunday, after all the buns had been sold, I was baking biscuits and used some of the dough to make an impromptu cinnamon bun—we were always experimenting with new methods. It worked, but it wasn’t great. That’s when I began tinkering with the ingredients to see if I could come up with a biscuit-type dough that would work for a quick cinnamon bun.
Cottage cheese, buttermilk and baking powder are the keys to a tender, light dough.
I started with traditional biscuit dough, which contains flour, buttermilk, cold butter, and baking powder. After much experimentation, I increased the amount of butter in the original recipe to give the dough more flavor and a softer texture. I also added cottage cheese, which I had read is sometimes used in German baking recipes to make richer and more tender pastries. Increasing the amount of the baking powder made the buns rise more—I like them puffy. The baking powder also reacts with the buttermilk to neutralize its sourness.
Rolling the dough and shaping it into pinwheel spirals proved easy, and the resulting buns were tender, golden, and flavorful, with a filling redolent of cinnamon and not overly sweet. And because I can’t help trying out new variations, I came up with a version with an apple-butter filling (see the main recipe), and another with almond-and-coconut filling.
With this recipe, you won’t need a lot of time, and you won’t have to plan ahead to enjoy warm, homemade cinnamon buns—now that’s a real breakfast treat, indeed.
Leave a 1/2-inch border around the edge of the dough, so the filling won't spill out when you roll it up.
The buns will rise and spread as they bake, so don't worry if there are small gaps between them in the pan.