Recipe from Kayla, PopCosmo’s Teen Chef: Everyone loves a good cinnamon bun. The combination of warm, soft bread and sweet, sticky cinnamon filling is perfect on a cool Fall day, and it is made even better by mixing in some pumpkin. First, however, we need to distinguish between sticky buns and cinnamon buns. Sticky buns are cinnamon buns baked in a pool of caramel and then drizzled with even more of it after they are baked. Cinnamon buns are served plain or with that delicious sugary icing. My pumpkin cinnamon bun recipe has elements of both; I don't bake them in caramel, but I do douse them with a few spoonfuls of mock caramel sauce.
The caramel sauce for these treats is not real caramel. Real caramel is tricky and dangerous; to make it, you boil sugar and water until amber and then whisk in cream and sometimes some other minor ingredients. It burns easily and you can get burned easily as well. Overall, it's not much fun to make but is definitely worth it, so I decided to make a topping that tastes just like it but is much faster and less painful. Instead of boiling the sugar and then adding cream, I combine brown sugar, cream, and butter and boil them all together. The brown sugar gives it color and a complex flavor from the molasses and the butter adds a nice richness. The cream, of course, makes it creamy and velvety. Best of all, you don't have to watch it constantly and add ingredients at just the right moment since you just let the mixture boil until it thickens.
My favorite part of cinnamon buns and sticky buns is the bread. Yes, it is bread; it has yeast and lots of flour and is kneaded. That, to me at least, is bread. Don't be intimidated, though, because this bread is exceptionally easy to make. It only proofs (rises) twice, and both times are relatively short. This is proof (no pun intended!) that not all breads require hours slaving away in the kitchen.
And finally, we have that signature swirl. Yes, the streusel. The main reason most people eat cinnamon buns and sticky buns. That spiral of yumminess and cinnamon and sugar and all that is good in this world. So simple, yet so good. The streusel perfumes the whole bun with cinnamon and gives it an extra punch of flavor. Honestly, I can't see pumpkin without cinnamon. The two just go together so well, so I actually doubled the amount of streusel the original recipe called for (don't judge me for that until you try it).
2 1/4 tsp Yeast 4-5 Cups Flour 3/4 Cup Pumpkin Puree 1/3 Cup Milk 4 T Butter, Melted 6 T Butter, Chilled 2 T Butter 1 1/4 Cups Dark Brown Sugar 1 1/4 tsp Salt 1/4 tsp Nutmeg 5 tsp Cinnamon 1/2 Cup Cream
Combine the yeast, 1 tsp sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Let stand for five minutes. Add 3 cups flour, pumpkin, milk, melted butter, 2 tsp sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour as necessary, leaving 1/2 cup.
Grease a large bowl and add the dough, turning to coat. Cover with plastic and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, flour, and chilled butter.
Roll the dough out to an 11x15" slab. Spread on the streusel and press lightly to adhere. Roll up so that it is a 15" log and cut into 12 slices.
Place the slices in greased muffin tins, cover, and let rise for 25 minutes. It can be chilled overnight at this point.
Heat the oven to 375F. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
Bring the remaining brown sugar, cream, and butter to a boil in a small pot, whisking until sugar dissolves. Boil, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 8 minutes. Cool and drizzle on the buns.
Makes 12, Recipe Adapted from Back to the Cutting Board
For more delicious recipes by our Teen Chef, Kayla, check out her blog, The Nerdy Chef!