Violet Bakery's Cinnamon Buns

March 20, 2018

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: If you can make scones (or muffins or banana bread), you can make these sparkly, gloriously poufed cinnamon rolls—no waiting for yeast to do its thing. It’s all because the tiny Violet Bakery didn’t have the space to proof yeasted doughs, so founder Claire Ptak had to get crafty with a quick bread-style technique inspired by cookbooks from the 1950s. Don’t expect these buns to precisely recreate the yeasty flavors and pull-apart texture of a slower-risen roll—but they achieve something magical in their own right. And they do a remarkable job of hitting all the other notes of a classic cinnamon roll: the poofy, soft innards and cascading, buttery crust, the sparkle-dusted first bite giving way to sticky-sweet goo. Adapted slightly from The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak (Ten Speed Press, 2015). To read the whole story, head here.Genius Recipes

Serves: 12 buns
Prep time: 35 min
Cook time: 25 min


For the filling

  • 75g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter
  • 250g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

For the cinnamon buns

  • 560g (4 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 240g (1 cup plus 1 tablespoon) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 300g (1 1/4 cups) cold milk
  • sugar, for dipping
  • butter, for greasing the pan
In This Recipe


  1. Heat the oven to 390°F (200°C) (355°F/180°C convection). Generously butter a 12-cup deep muffin pan.
  2. First, prepare the filling. Melt the butter and leave in a warm place so that it remains liquid. Mix together the light brown sugar and cinnamon until no lumps remain, then set aside.
  3. Now make the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients with the cubes of butter and mix until you have a coarse meal. Slowly pour in the cold milk while the mixer is running, until the dough forms into a ball and comes away from the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for a few minutes. Fold the dough gently over itself once or twice to pull it all together let the dough rest a second time, for 10 minutes.
  4. Clear a large surface, dust lightly with more flour, and roll out the dough into a large rectangle until almost 1/8 inch (5mm) thick. Brush the surface of the dough with the melted butter and, before the butter hardens, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on to the butter. You want a good, slightly thick layer.
  5. Now roll the long side, keeping it neat and tidy. Gently tug the dough toward you to get a taut roll while rolling away from you in a spiral. Once it’s all rolled up, gently squeeze the roll to ensure 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 2 inches (5cm) of the loose end of the pastry and fold back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom of the roll. Place in the muffin pan, flap side down. Repeat with remaining slices.
  6. Bake the buns for 25 minutes, or until golden and well-risen. As soon as they're out of the oven, flip them over onto a wire cooling rack so that they don't stick to the pan. Dip each cinnamon bun into a bowl of sugar. These are best served right away while still warm, but can also be served at room temperature or re-warmed in a low oven (especially good with a scoop of ice cream for dessert).

More Great Recipes:
Bread|Cinnamon|Grains|Milk/Cream|Serves a Crowd|Bake|Christmas|Easter|Fall|Father's Day|Mother's Day|Spring

Reviews (76) Questions (5)

76 Reviews

Nancy January 15, 2019
I just made these and we love them. Granted, they don't have that lovely yeasty quality that "normal" cinnamon rolls do but the recipe makes up for that by providing a much quicker treat to be had. 35 minutes listed for prep was spot on which meant in roughly a bit more than an hour you can have warm, cinnamon bliss on the table. That's not to say that they don't rise because they do, quite beautifully. They were perfect warm from the oven and a hit. Now I'd love to see you procure Ptak's lemon elderflower cake recipe - please!!!
Suzanne C. January 13, 2019
Disappointed in this recipe. Followed directions to the T and they look exactly like the video, but have very little flavor. They are mostly dough when you bite into them. Will not make again!
Olivia December 30, 2018
This recipe is easy and rewarding!

I subbed eggnog for the milk just because I had it on hand. I liked the sugar idea, but found the buns really did need a glaze to balance out the doughy/hard exterior. I topped them with cream cheese icing and they were a hit! They weren't the same the next day, but were excellent rewarmed in the microwave (kept it moist and didn't dry out when reheating as opposed to the oven.) Going to make these regularly! Such a crowd pleaser.

Q: Wondering what would happen if you baked them all together in a skillet instead of the muffin tins. Would they still turn out? Has anyone tried?
Josho December 28, 2018
I would love to know what the approximate dimensions of the rectangle are when rolling out the dough.
Kt4 December 28, 2018
I just rolled a rectangle until it was the desired thickness. If you watch the video, you can get an idea of the size around 1:15.
Esvee December 23, 2018
Don’t cinnamon rolls normally have yeast? I’ve avoided making them for this reason for years. How do these rise?
Tracy December 24, 2018
2tbs baking powder
Kt4 December 24, 2018
Like scones, muffins, and banana bread do - baking powder :)
Josho December 28, 2018
If you read the "whole story," you'll find out why this recipe doesn't use yeast. (Apparently the bakery was too small to take up space proofing dough.)
Esvee December 28, 2018
Thanks! I totally skimmed the article so missed all of that. Who knew!
Esvee December 28, 2018
Thanks! I totally skimmed the article so I missed all that. Who knew!
Tracy December 23, 2018
OMG....turned out amazingly delicious! I used my six muffin tin for double sized morning buns....I cooked them for an extra 10 minutes....turned out scrumptious!
Jenny December 23, 2018
I don’t like cardamom — is there a sub — or can I leave it out?
Sue K. December 23, 2018
You can use ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, apple pie spice. ginger, or allspice. Or you can leave it out altogether and it will be fine.
Lee U. December 22, 2018
Are these still good to eat after the day they were baked? Sometimes baked goods that are delicious when fresh and warm are inedible in the coming days.
Sue K. December 22, 2018
I did not like them as much the following day. Any that were left after that were thrown away even though we tried warming them in the toaster oven etc. There are only 2 of us so what you asked is pretty important to us.
arcane54 December 28, 2018
I’ve had good luck relating them wrapped tightly in foil. Otherwise, they dry out.
Kt4 December 3, 2018
I've made these and they came out great!! I'm not very practiced with yeast breads or biscuits so was a little nervous but it turned out to be very easy.

I want to make these for a crowd of about 40. Can I freeze these before baking? If so, should I thaw them or put them straight into the oven? And thoughts on using a pie pan or 9x13? I only have one muffin tin but will have access to 2 ovens so should be able to get 4 baking pans cooking at once. Any suggestions will be appreciated!!
Jessica January 25, 2019
Probably too late to help you, but I make these in advance and freeze them in the muffin tin. Just add a few minutes to the baking time!
Amy July 19, 2018
I made these dairy-free with coconut oil and cashew milk, turned out great
frecklywench July 15, 2018
I was very impressed with how easy this dough was to make and work with! In addition to the tradition cinnamon preparation, I filled half of these with raspberry jam and a handful of fresh raspberries, inspired by Julia Turshen's raspberry jam buns. Both versions were a great success!
Norman June 27, 2018
I made the recipe in half and it was delicious! Going to make some again soon
Claire C. June 22, 2018
Don’t know what I did wrong. Followed the recipe exactly. First batch cooked as directed at 390 F were burned and hard so I threw them away. I lowered the temp to 350 to cook the second batch and they were still over cooked and dry. They, too, went in the trash. The amount of cardamom was too much for my taste. I am an experienced baker, so am puzzled at why mine were a failure. My oven is calibrated correctly so that’s not the problem. Very disappointed in the outcome, so will go back to my tried and true cinnamon rolls. They never let me down.
Mimi T. June 19, 2018
Do you need a stand mixer for this? Can it be mixed by hand?
Lisa L. June 19, 2018
Absolutely!!! I doubled the recipe and made it by hand for a party, and they turned out wonderfully :-)
kilikat June 19, 2018
Seconding this! The dough is soft and lovely to work with.
Leslie V. May 13, 2018
I am curious that the dough has NO sugar. Is this OK in taste?
Isa May 13, 2018
Absolutely :) the dough of the standard cinnamon rolls I make are similarly unsweetened. The filling and topping are plenty sweet :)
Leslie V. May 14, 2018
I made two batches, and froze them in muffin tins. This AM, baking a single roll, to get the feel of the process, for later need of the now 23 . Just use to a sweet yeast cinnamon roll dough. Thanks for your reply. I will let you know our take on yours. :)
Sue K. April 20, 2018
I have already put a review in but I feel that I need to make a further comment. If you are not going to have a crowd to clean them up, you may want to 1/2 the recipe. They were very good fresh but not so much the following day.
Sugartoast April 20, 2018
FYI for those of you who are making these from Violet Bakery Cookbook (Ten Speed Press) there is a typo in the print copy - Flour is listed at 560 grams (1 1/2 cups) and should probably read Flour 560 grams (FOUR & 1/2 cups).
pottsy.1990 April 1, 2018
Definitely a keeper recipe! Made these as part of an Easter brunch and they turned out perfectly. We were only 4 so I halved the recipe. I actually made them the night before, covered in cling film and froze overnight. I pulled them out around 8 and they were defrosted by 10 and cooked as per the recipe. Wouldn’t change a thing.
Lisa L. March 31, 2018
Has anyone tried to make this in a 9x13-in pan? Was the bake time altered at all?
Sue K. March 24, 2018
We feel that these are winners. I did not have cardamon so I put additional cinnamon in the dough. I also put about double what was called for in the filling because we like cinnamon.