Chasing Delicious | Cinnamon Orange Honey Buns
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Cinnamon Orange Honey Buns

Cinnamon Orange Honey Buns

Low hanging rays of light streak through the barely lit kitchen, bouncing off dull metal tools and brightly colored kitchen towels. A bowl of oranges glow brightly on one side of the kitchen as a ray strategically drawn through the room highlights the citrus. Clouds of ivory white flour hang in the air like a light fog, slowly leaving a snow-like covering throughout the kitchen.

 

Carefully-quiet clanks, taps and clunks barely fill the dusty kitchen air as milk is measured and heated, a mixing bowl is warmed and yeast is stirred and dissolved. Flour, eggs, honey and orange are added with a splash and soon butter and salt follow into the deep, stainless steel bowl. Flour is tossed on an old, tattered butcher block with a few flicks of the wrist. A lump of soft, sticky dough is turned in on itself; the sweet orange honey dough slowly builds structure and form as it is kneaded about the dusty surface.

 

A heavy glass bowl, draped with orange and white simple plaid towel, rests by a warm window, it’s contents emanating a delicate sweet, yeasty aroma. A simple cinnamon sugar filling is mixed; cinnamon dust tickles the nose as a cloud puffs up from the small bowl. A sneeze is muffled in a sleeve; care is taken not to wake anyone. Then, a simple honey butter glaze is melted and thickened. The smells in the kitchen build in intensity, hinting at what is to come.

 

By now the kitchen is bright with morning sun; the mess made in the previous hour no longer hidden by long shadows and dim, early morning light. Dirty, dough covered hands collect rogue pots and bowls, scatted spoons and tools and wipe up the thin layer of flour covering everything. A pile of dishes fill the sink. Eyes roll, dreading the misery awaiting in the form of a sponge and far too much elbow grease for dawn. An idea and everything is tossed in the dishwasher without a second thought of what is caked on, stuck in, or glued to the dishes – surely the dishwasher can handle it.

 

A tented towel and strong scent of yeast signal a ready dough. With care the airy mound of dough is deflated and kneaded quickly. With the dough left to rest for a moment, a years-old, trusted cast iron skillet is fetched and coated with a liberal helping of soft, sweet butter. Dough is rolled out with a large dust covered rolling pin, filling sprinkled on, and the concoction is tightly rolled up. Cut after cut and the cast iron skillet is slowly filled with the familiar spiral of honey buns.

 

A quick proofing and soon the rolls are baking away in a hot oven, dough overflowing up the sides of the skillet into a mountain of rich, sweet deliciousness. Eyes pry themselves from the alluring view the oven provides as busy hands carry an eager body off to collect coffee, grind beans, fill a french press and pour in barely boiling water. A timer is set and before it can chime the perfect smell of brewing coffee bounces about the kitchen.  Tired bodies are awoken by the myriad of decadent aromas floating through the house.. A smorgasbord of plaid PJs fill the kitchen as eyes stare at the oven timer – :04, :03, 02, :01, :00. Barely awake men and women jump up as my hands, carefully protected by a kitchen towel, pull the hot cast iron skillet from the oven.

 

Coffee is poured and steamy, finger burning, orange cinnamon honey buns are plucked from the skillet. Tired eyes, hungry mouths, and excited conversation of what that day will entail fill the kitchen. Smiles fill silent moments after plates are licked clean and cups emptied of their sweet and bitter contents. The sun just barely peaks over the tree line as the day begins for my family, my day having begun three hours earlier with a simple mission to rouse honey-glaze-covered smiles from those closest to me. Mission accomplished.

 

Cinnamon Rolls: While cinnamon rolls are quite easy to prepare, there are many steps in this breakfast and dessert transcending treat. I suggest reading over the recipe at least once before starting. While I’ve baked these in a cast iron skillet – which I believe gives cinnamon rolls a superior crust – you can bake these in a cake pan or glass dish, so long as it is about the same size (nothing smaller than 10″ in diameter).

Cinnamon Orange Honey Buns
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Recipe by:
Difficulty: Intermediate
Great for: Breakfast, Dessert
Makes: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 Honey Orange Yeast Dough (recipe follows)
  • 2 ounces butter
  • 8 ounces sugar  (split into 5 ounces and 3 ounces)
  • 2 ounces honey
  • 1½ ounces corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1½ teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 egg (lightly whisked for an egg wash)
  • 3 ounces pecans, chopped
Instructions
  1. Preheat an oven to 350°F. Liberally butter a 10" seasoned cast iron skillet.
  2. Add the butter, 5 ounces sugar, honey, corn syrup and water to a heavy bottomed pot. Bring to a boil, mixing well, and remove form the heat. Set aside.
  3. Mix together the remaining 3 ounces sugar, cinnamon and orange zest in a bowl. Set aside.
  4. Roll out the dough (after it has already risen once, been kneaded and rested again) on a lightly floured surface, using as little flour as you can. Roll the dough out to form a 9" x 15" rectangle with the long side facing you.
  5. Brush the top of the dough with the egg wash (you may not need all of the washes, just enough to cover the top of the dough).
  6. Sprinkle the sugar, cinnamon and orange zest mixture over the egg washed dough, leaving a quarter inch area bare along the top of the dough.
  7. Starting closest to you, tightly roll up the dough from the long side, working away from you. Once it is rolled up, lay the roll on the seam so that it won't unroll as you cut it.
  8. Cut the rolled dough log into 8 equally sized buns. Place the buns into the buttered cast iron skillet (7 around the outside and 1 in the center), tucking the edge of the roll just barely under the roll (this is to help it from unwrapping).
  9. Set the buns in a warm place and let them rise until almost doubled in volume (take care not to let them rise too much).
  10. Once almost doubled in volume, pour half of the honey-butter glaze sauce over the buns.  Place the glazed buns in a preheated oven and bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until the center is browned evenly and the rolls seem set and don't jiggle.
  11. Remove from the heat and allow the rolls to cool before serving. Just before serving, pour some warmed honey butter glaze over the buns.
 

 

Yeast Dough: While yeast dough can seem picky and tricky, it is actually quite easy when a few simple rules are followed. First, yeast is very particular about its temperature, so be sure that all the ingredients you add are between 100 and 115  (if you can control the temperature of course). Before adding ingredients to the bowl, heat the bowl by running warm water through it; be sure to dry it before adding the ingredients. As for heating the milk, this is done for two reasons (first, to get the temperature up to activate the yeast and second to kill an enzyme in the milk which left alive will impede the yeast’s ability to do its job).

 

Never rush the rising times and always pay attention as these are the most important parts of any yeast dough. You should always let the dough get to at least double in volume for the first rising time. For the second time, or the final rise time before baking, you shouldn’t let it completely double in volume as the dough will continue to rise in the oven. Once it has risen to about 1 and 3/4 times the volume, you can begin baking it.

 

For rising dough, the warmest place in your kitchen is best as dough rises ideally around 85°F. If your kitchen is cool, you can preheat an oven at 400°F for just 1 minute until it is just warm feeling. Place the dough in the oven after the oven is turned off and let it rise there with the door shut. Avoid places that experience drafts.

Honey Citrus Dough
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Recipe by:
Difficulty: Intermediate
Ingredients
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk, heated to 115°F
  • 1 ounce honey
  • 2 ounces sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 2 eggs, at room temp.
  • 1 pound 5 ounces bread flour
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In the bowl or a stand mixer, or bowl, dissolve the yeast in the warn milk.
  2. Add the honey, sugar, orange juice, orange zest, eggs and flour. Mix until a dough forms. Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Add the melted butter and salt and knead the dough for 5 minutes until the dough is elastic. The dough should be slightly sticky to the touch.
  4. Place the kneaded dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover. Place the bowl in a warm spot (preferably around 85°F) and let the dough rise until it is doubled in volume, about 1½ to 2 hours.
  5. Once doubled, punch the dough down (to deflate the air bubbles) and knead the dough for a few seconds to redistribute the yeast. Allow the dough to sit for another 20 minutes before using the dough.
 

Enjoy!

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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Founder of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, Russell's works have been featured in Southern Living, Men's Fitness, Redbook, TRADHome, and Real Simple magazines and on various sites including Lifehacker, Fast Co., Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, Quipsologies, Explore, and Fine Cooking. Follow Russell on Twitter @rvank and Instagram. Get more delicious @chasedelicious.

61 Comments

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  • sweet road

    Oh wow, these look tasty! I’m sure that orange adds a nice breakfast touch.

  • Denise

    Beautiful post and lovely photos! You are such an artist with the soul of a poet as well as a culinarily talented. The recipe sounds wonderful although I will probably not experience it is quite the same way since I don’t get up at dawn, although I sometimes go to sleep around then :-) i will try them as breakfast for dinner.

  • Jenn B-H

    One word: yummy!

    Love the pics as always!

  • Susan @ SwoonMySpoon

    Your photography is gorgeous. I love how you capture the food and also various components of it. Your recipe sounds delicious also.

  • Liren

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful morning and these divine cinnamon buns so poetically :) I wish every one of my mornings started this way!

  • Sharyn Dimmick

    I’ve made cinnamon buns and orange rolls, but never thought to combine the two. I must try it. Thank you.

  • Diane {Created by Diane}

    they look fabulous!

  • Liz

    My hubby just adores orange rolls…and I need to treat him to your wonderful honey buns~

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    These are delightful! Lovely idea!

  • Tiffany

    The honey orange combo is calling my name!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    HA! Whenever I bake ANYTHING I read the recipe at least three time (usually closer to five). Great post, my friend! These look magical!

  • Ambika

    Such gorgeous photos!!! Love the feel you’ve given to your pics. Wonderful recipe too!!

  • Natalie@DeconstructingTheHome

    Beautiful pictures and I love that you cook these in a cast iron skillet. What a great way to add in flavor. Yum!

  • Kita

    I love how you transport us into your kitchen with every post. Late at night on a Sunday evening by my computer and I can smell the orange and see the soft glow of the morning sunlight. Beautiful.

  • Eliot

    I love these. So comforting!

  • Amy @ Fragrant Vanilla Cake

    These buns sound wonderful! I love the flavor combination you have here with the citrus and cinnamon! They look so light and fluffy.

  • Mama's Gotta Bake

    I make these, but not with a honey orange dough. I can’t wait to give them a try. Great photo!

  • Paula @ Dishing the Divine

    i look at every one of your posts even though I’m not much into trying new foods these days simply because the photos are phenomenal. Someday when the little baby inside me allows me to get more excited about new foods, maybe I’ll start baking a bit more of these tasty treats as well. In the mean time, I’ve mostly given up following blogs but always come to look at your exquisite pictures. :)

  • thelittleloaf

    I want to tear one of these straight out the pan and eat it right now. Your photos and words are always such an inspiration – and leave me incredibly hungry! Gorgeous as always :-)

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    Now that’s what I want to wake up to on the weekends.

  • Sommer@ASpicyPerspective

    Mmmm! Love how they’re bursting over the top of that cast iron skillet.

  • Carolyn

    Those are gorgeous, I love how you cooked them in a cast iron skillet!

  • TidyMom

    I’m drooling here Russel! those sound amazing, and your photography is stunning!

  • Shaina

    Just what I’d love to wake up to in the morning. Gorgeous.

  • Jon

    I have a new found fear of cinnamonmonmonon rolls. I’ll have to try these to see if the fear will subside. They look incredible. Pictures are, as usual, beautiful. Fav pic is #3. I can just reach in and grab one. Great post kiddo! Can’t wait for the next.

  • Snippets of Thyme (Sarah)

    These are some beautiful photos. I am def. going to vote for you in the The Kitchn contest. Those rolls look so wonderfully imperfectly perfect!

  • Amanda

    Just gorgeous, Russell! Those look fab.

  • kitchenriffs

    Love your photography. Your set-ups, composition are great. And the recipe? That looks pretty good too! Cinnamon rolls are a real favorite of mine. Thanks.

  • kelly

    Simply beautiful….I love the story. It makes me want to shut down my computer, go home, throw on an apron and bake!

  • RavieNomNoms

    What a great idea to have these in a cast iron skillet! I would never have even think to do this. So creative… and your photos?! Breathtaking of course :-)

  • Sydney Jones

    These look so tasty :)

  • Stephanie

    These look amazing! Any post that uses yeast is my favorite kind of post to read. I can almost smell those baking in the oven. omg want

  • Kiri W.

    These look so pretty! I don’t like orange with cinnamon, but my wife always prefers orange scented frosting, so she would adore these. :)

  • Ken┃hungry rabbit

    Sweet Baby Jesus! These honey buns makes me drool like a hungry baby.

  • Little Aspiring Chef

    Wow! You wright about food in such an amazing way! It’s like reading a good book – not an ordinary blog post!

  • Kulsum at JourneyKitchen

    Your styling is such an ace! Love it. And those buns have given me a extreme sweet craving right now!

  • Kimber

    Wow, these look so ooey-gooey delicious. I always wanted to wake up and make these and because of this post I just might. :) Thanks for sharing!

  • Daisy@Nevertoosweet

    Wow these look amazing :) Yummy I love the syrup! Congratulations for making it Top 9!

  • Natascha Kessler - Heaven On Hearth

    Looks absolutely delicious. I have my cup of coffee ready! Beautiful photography, makes you want to reach in and grab one. Congratulations on making it in the Top 9.

  • Ruth Naylor

    I do have one question. I’m new to making any kind of cinnamon roll and you say to start rolling from the side closest to you. Are you meaning a long side or a short side? Want to do it right. Thanks!

    • Russell

      When rolling it out, you’ll want to face the long side towards you. This way you’ll want to roll up the long side. Thank you for pointing this out! I’ll make sure I clarify the instructions.

    • Ruth Naylor

      Thank you! I think I’m going to make these this weekend.

  • the Breakfast Bachelor

    I AM ALL ABOUT THESE

  • Angie@Angie's Recipes

    Great composition. And the buns sure look tasty!

  • Kristen

    I think I could sit here and look at this picture all day long. What a delicious recipe and gorgeous photograph!

  • Amy at Gastronome Tart

    I am actually surprised that I have not made honey buns since I’m a beekeeper. My pantry is loaded with liquid gold. I will be breaking some more out for this that’s for sure. Bookmarked!

  • Serda

    Oh my gawd. I can smell them!!!! :)

  • Lilly

    Omg ever time i visit your blog i get hungry! You make the greatest things. What’s a dish that you’ve been wanting to make but didn’t had to courage to?

    • Russell

      That’s a very interesting question, Lilly! I’d probably have to go with making puff pastry dough from scratch. It’s an all day process that I’ve been told takes numerous practices to get just right. Maybe you’ve inspired me to finally give it a try.

      But I’m glad I am making you hungry! That means my mission has been accomplished : )

  • Maureen

    I’ve been craving a honey bun for ages and these just fit the bill. Thanks! I’m drooling.

  • lisaiscooking

    I want to wake up and find these in my kitchen tomorrow! The orange in the dough and honey butter glaze sound terrific.

  • Reem | Simply Reem

    Beautiful!!!
    These buns are screaming comfort and deliciousness….
    What gorgeous clicks, as always…
    Love it.

  • Magic of Spice

    These look amazing…love the combination of flavors!

  • kim

    These look so very amazing! I would love to make these for my family. Is there a way I could prepare the night before and refrigerate the dough at some point so they are closer to being ready to bake in the morning? Thank you so much.

  • Meeta

    Simply lovely flavors. We love our buns here too and I am always playing around with different flavors. I think I just need to get myself a skillet – nice prop!

  • wakanetwork

    These looks heavenly! I could eat just them for dinner!

  • paintgurl40

    baked these…and they are AMAZING!!!!! love your photos and writing style!

    • Russell

      I’m so glad you liked them! And thank you very much for the kind words : )

  • Cinnamon Vogue

    Wow the photos and recipes look amazing. Love the overhead photo and the lettering. The final touch for a great recipe. This is going in our Pinterest collection for sure. Now if you can do some Ceylon Cinnamon Recipe’s for us that would be even better. :-). But in the meantime we will try to make these. Cinnamon and Orange go very well together. I am wondering if Cinnamon and Grapefruit would also work. Anyway keep up the good work. Fantastic!

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks

    Just pinned these so I can remember to make them – the skillet, the orange, cinnamon, honey – Ive been on such a bread making kick lately & these are RIGHT up my alley!

  • Kate@Diethood

    Oh these are beyond gorgeous! And what a combination of flavors…beautiful!

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