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Cinnamon Brioche Morning Buns

Cinnamon Brioche Morning Buns


I needed some sweet new buns.

I’m pretty happy with my take on the savoury side of breakfast baking — but not everyone at the Pender Islands’ Farmers’ Market early on a Saturday morning wants a soft, rich bun rolled with cream sauce and topped with cheese and their choice of bacon or tomato, do they?  No.  The other half of the breakfast spectrum demand a sweeter start to their day, and most of those prefer cinnamon in the mix.

So I thought and I pondered, and I pondered and then thought some more.  My mind’s eye kept returning to the morning bun I fell in love with at Tartine Bakery (and ate every day for the week I was in San Francisco) — croissant dough rolled with brown sugar, cinnamon and orange zest and baked into a flaky, sticky mess and then rolled in more sugar.  Yum.

But I’m talking about making at least 2 batches of these every Saturday until Labour Day.  And if you know anything about croissant dough (which is prepared a lot like puff pastry), that means lots of butter beating, repeated dough folding and hours of resting and chilling in between.

Now don’t get me wrong, cause it’s not like I don’t love to work the dough — this year of no store-bought bread has taught me the love — but the bun racket at the Farmers’ Market isn’t that lucrative.  And like I’ve said before, I’m just too old to make this solely a labour of love.


But who needs repeated dough foldings when there’s brioche?

The brioche is inspired by Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, which actually has 3 brioche recipes — Poor Man’s, Middle-Class and Rich-Man’s — historically, the more money you had, the more butter in your bread.  But as is typical with me, the Rich-Man’s had a little too much butter, while the Middle-Class needed a little more.  Adjustments were required.

And so Upper-Middle-Class Brioche was born.  I split the difference in the butter right down the middle, and the result is a soft, rich and delicious roll filled with brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom (I’m not that big on orange in baking, and my Dad used to bring home the best cardamom-spiced cinnamon buns from the Danish Bakery in Steveston, BC when I was little, so I decided to go with that.)

And while I’m on the topic of Dad’s, may I just suggest a batch of these for Father’s Day?  Follow the notes below the recipe to get them all ready the day before, then put them in the oven just before he gets up.  He’ll love them!


(Click on the title below for a printable version of the recipe.)

: Cinnamon Brioche Morning Buns

: Soft, buttery brioche rolled with lots of cinnamon sugar and lightly spiced with cardamom. Start the dough the day before for the best wake up, ever!

  • All-Purpose Flour – ½ Cup (65 g)
  • Instant Yeast – 2½ tsp (10 g)
  • Milk, lukewarm – ½ Cup (115 g)
  • Eggs, slightly beaten – 5 large
  • All-Purpose Flour – 3¼ Cups (425 g)
  • Granulated Sugar – 2 Tble (30 g)
  • Salt – 1¼ tsp (8 g)
  • Unsalted Butter – 1½ Cups (340 g), at room temperature
  • Brown Sugar – 1½ Cups, very lightly packed (300 g)
  • Cinnamon – 1 to 2 Tble
  • Cardamom – 1½ tsp
  • Melted Butter – 2 Tble
  • Granulated Sugar – 1 cup, divided
  • Cinnamon – 1 tsp
  1. Make the sponge: Combine the ½ cup flour, yeast and milk in a small bowl and stir well until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20-30 minutes, until the sponge rises and then falls when you tap the bowl.
  2. Make the dough: Add the sponge and eggs to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, and beat until smooth. In a seperate bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. Allow the dough to rest for 5 minutes.
  3. With the mixer on medium speed (and still using the paddle), gradually add the butter to the dough, about a quarter at a time, allowing each addition to fully incorporate before adding more. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle as needed. Once all of the butter has been added, continue to mix on medium for 6 more minutes, scraping down the bowl and paddle occasionally.
  4. Scrape the dough out of the bowl and onto a pan lined with a silpat or parchement lightly sprayed with oil. Use floured hands to form the dough into an 8” square. Spray the top of the dough lightly with oil, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (at least 6 hours).
  5. While the dough chills, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and cardamom.
  6. Brush the cups of a large muffin pan with melted butter. Add 1 tsp of granulated sugar to each cup, then shake the pan over the sink to cover each muffin cup with sugar on all sides. Tap out any extra sugar and set the pan aside.
  7. Mix the rest of the granulated sugar with the 1 tsp cinnamon in a large bowl.
  8. Scrape the chilled dough onto a lightly floured counter. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll into a large rectangle measuring 24” x 8” x ¼” thick. Lift and turn the dough as you roll and use enough flour on the counter and dough to prevent sticking.
  9. Lightly brush with dough with cold water, then liberally sprinkle the brown sugar mixture on top. Starting on a long side, roll the dough into a tight log and finishing with the seam side down. Cut the log into (12) 2” pieces, and transfer each piece to a muffin cup, cut side up.
  10. Loosely cover the pan with plastic wrap and the proof the dough at room temperature for about 1½ to 2 hours, or until it is pillowy looking and fills the muffin cups.
  11. Preheat the oven to 375° and move the rack to the middle position.
  12. Bake the buns for 18-22 minutes, until lightly browned. Turn the pan 180° halfway through.
  13. Turn the buns out onto a rack immediately after removing them from the oven (careful of hot sugar syrup!). As soon as they are cool enough to handle, toss them, one at a time, in the cinnamon sugar mixture. Return to the rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.


  • Brioche dough can be tricky and sticky to work with.  You must work quickly to keep the dough cold.  If the dough warms up and begins to stick in earnest, return the dough to the fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
  • It may seem like you have too much brown sugar filling for the amount of dough.  Use it all — the more sugar, the more sticky syrup that coats the bottom of those delicious buns — just be careful not too lose any filling when you’re cutting and moving the rolls to the muffin cups!
  • To make ahead:  roll, cut and pan the buns as described.  Cover with plastic wrap, then refrigerate up to 48 hours before baking.  Remove the pan about 2 hours before you plan to bake (to give the dough time to proof), then finish as per the instructions.
  • Fill the muffin pan with hot water as soon as you’ve turned out the buns.  This will reduce clean up time.
  • Watch the buns closely when they’re close to done.  DO NOT OVER COOK.
  • These are best served warm from the oven.  To serve the next day, gently warm for 5 to 10 minutes.

Preparation time: 90 minute(s)

Cooking time: 20 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 12

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