Violet Bakery Cinnamon Buns

If you like cinnamon buns and you like biscuits, then these sweetly spiced little numbers are for you.  The dough is melt in your mouth flakey, with a salty note from the baking powder that is perfectly balanced by the buttery cinnamon sugar filling.  A final dusting of crunchy sugar at the end serves to enhance their rustic beauty and adds another layer of sweetness and texture.  

The best thing of all about these buns is they don't need to be proofed.  There's no yeast and only a 10 minute rising time because the dough is actually more biscuit than bread.  The recipe comes from one of my favourite baking books The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak.  Ptak worked with celebrated American chef and food activist Alice Waters for years before moving to London and subsequently starting her own popular bakery, The Violet Bakery.  She says of this recipe, that the dough was inspired by quick breads of the 1950's.  To me it's like a more refined, homemade version of bisquick, that all purpose baking mix that can be used for everything from pancakes to chicken pot pie.   When I was a kid, I remember enviously eying those bright yellow boxes in friend's cupboards after school and asking if they maybe, you know, wanted to make some biscuits?   And the add-ins were endless!   At our house there were only ever two types of mixes:  a special cinnamon swirl muffin mix that my Mom would buy on shopping trips to Buffalo and Quaker oatmeal muffin mix so anyone over the age of 8 could bake muffins at their leisure.  Made from scratch was the general rule, and while I sometimes felt deprived of those brightly coloured packages and novel flavours calling out from grocery store shelves,  I'm now grateful for all that my "from scratch" upbringing taught me.  Especially when it means that I can wake up on a Saturday morning and and be eating fresh, homemade cinnamon buns in less than an hour!  

From The Violet Bakery Cookbook

Preheat the oven to 390F and grease a 12 cup muffin pan. 
For the filling:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. light brown sugar
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon

Melt the butter and in a separate bowl mix together the sugar and cinnamon.  

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. baking powder
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup plus 1 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups cold milk
sugar for dipping
butter for greasing

In the bowl of a standard mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the dry ingredients with the butter and mix until you have a coarse meal.  Slowly pour in the milk while the mixer is running, until the dough forms into a ball and comes away from the sides of the bowl.   Turn the dough on a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for a few minutes.  Fold it over once or twice to pull together and then leave for 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it's a large rectangle about 1/8 of an inch thick.  Brush the surface with the melted butter and sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar into a good, thick layer.

Roll up the dough, starting at the long side, keeping it neat and tight.  Once it's rolled up, squeeze it to make sure it's the same thickness throughout.  Use a sharp knife to cut the roll crosswise into 12 even slices.  Take a slice of the cinnamon roll, peel back about 5cm of the loose end of the pastry and fold it in back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom of the roll.  Place it in the muffin pan, flap side down.  Repeat with remaining slices.   

Bake buns for 25 minutes.  As soon as they're out, transfer them to a cooling rack .  Dip each bun into a bowl of sugar and eat immediately!  

These buns can be made ahead of time and frozen in the muffin tin until ready to bake.