Monday, February 25, 2013

(Tuck Shop) Cinnamon Buns

These cinnamon buns are full of history.  They come from a recipe from the Tuck Shop, and I found an article that sums up the shop that was written in 1943.  It stood 1917-1970.  Everyone who went to the University of Alberta, my Alma Mater, has probably heard about these cinnamon buns.  My grandmother went to the school in the 1960s and at some point my mom and aunt came in to visit her and surely they had a snack at the Tuck Shop.  I've always heard about how delicious it smelled and how it was the best gathering place, the kind of place that just does not exist any more.  My mom has a copy of their original recipe (scaled down for a normal kitchen) that I asked her for.  Thanks to the miracle of 21st century technology, she took a photo and passed the recipe on to me.  I want to share it with you because these cinnamon buns have brought so much joy into the hearts of Edmontonians over the last almost-century and I think the world deserves to try them too.

My mom always makes them on Christmas morning but I walked past Cinnzeo the other day and realized that I could make something that tasted way better, and I know there are no weird chemicals (I don't know about Cinnzeo or other store-bought ones).  Also these probably cost $0.25 each or probably less, so they're considerably cheaper!

The recipe says it makes 18 buns and that I was supposed to use chunks the size of oranges.  I opted for 16 buns because that's how many I cut.  They would have been too crowded in a 9x13 pan so I put 12 into that pan and the remaining 4 into another pan.  If you are confused what I mean by "knot", I mean an overhand knot like in the link.

Tuck Shop Cinnamon Buns

For the yeast:
4 1/2 tsp (2 packages) instant yeast
1/2 cup warm water
2 tbsp white sugar

For the dough:
2 cups boiling water
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp salt
3 tbsp white sugar
5 1/4 cups flour, divided
3 eggs

For the cinnamon filling:
1/3 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Special equipment:
Stand mixer or electric mixer
9"x13"x2" pan (or so)

1. Pour 2 cups boiling water into the metal bowl of a stand mixer (or large bowl).  If you do not have a metal bowl, be careful to avoid thermal shock.  Add butter, salt and sugar.  Let the butter melt and the mixture cool.
2. While the butter and water mixture is cooling, prepare the yeast.  Put 1/2 cup warm water into a bowl and sprinkle sugar and yeast over top.  Leave to sit for about 10 minutes until yeast has bloomed.
3. While waiting for the yeast, add two cups of flour to the water and butter mixture.  Mix until smooth and creamy, about 5 minutes.
4.  Check temperature of the flour mixture.  If it is too hot for you to keep a finger in for any length of time, wait a few minutes for it to cool.  Once yeast is foamy, add it to the flour mixture, along with the eggs and remaining 3 1/4 cups flour. Continue beating until it is very smooth.  Cover and let stand in a warm place until the dough has doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).  Dough will be very soft.
5.  When the dough is almost done rising, melt the butter but don't let it get too hot (allow it to cool if it is too hot).  Mix sugar and cinnamon on a separate plate.
6.  Turn dough onto a well-floured work surface.  Dough will still be very soft.  You can add a little flour as needed but the less flour used, the better the buns will be.  Let it sit on the work surface for 5-10 minutes.
7. Divide dough into balls approximately the size of oranges.  Roll into a rough sphere and then dip in butter, then in sugar and cinnamon mixture.  Stretch it into a rope approximately 4-5 inches long and tie it into a knot.
8. Place into pans.  Allow 3" square for each bun.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes.  Serve warm or cold.  They keep in the fridge for a few days.