Sunday, April 7, 2013

Rebel Mormon Cinnamon Buns

Hi everyone, it's Heather from The Beating Hearth and it's my turn to share a recipe that has special meaning to my family.  For the next 3 weeks, we will each share a dish that comes from our heritage, culture or has a special meaning to us. On the 6th week, we'll be hosting a link party and will be asking you all to link up your special recipes!  So start thinking about what you want to share.

I am a history buff.  I love it.  I love it even more when it's my own family's history.  I am also a native Utahn and come from Utah stock, I should have, I know, made a green Jello recipe.  I am still family makes one with pears and topped with mayo and shredded cheddar, placed delicately on a lettuce leaf.  Straight elegance!  I'll save that keeper for another time though.

Instead, I am going to make a recipe that was invented by my...Great, Great Grandmother Margaret.  They are what my family knows as Cinnamon Buns and they probably aren't what you would call cinnamon buns, as I was always perplexed, growing up, by the cinnamon buns with gobs of white frosting at the local mall.  This ain't them, but they are soooo amazing.

To get the scoop on this recipe, we called my Grandmother Evelyn, and her two older sisters, my Great Aunts.  Aren't I lucky that I get to call them up for a visit any time I want!!  I cherish my Grandma and love to hear her talk about the "olden days".  Here's what we know, Margaret was the daughter of a polygamist, and a rebel child at that!  Her family had to send her away to live with another family because she was too difficult!  Sometime in the late 1800's she came up with this recipe.  She made bread 2 or 3 times a week and one day decided to make a treat with her bread dough and these buns were born.  In my family, you just say you're making "buns", and everyone comes knocking!  

Margaret taught her son's wife Catherine how to make buns.  Catherine taught my mother how to make buns (Grandma Evelyn makes pies, but respects the buns), my mother taught me and now I'm teaching my girls.  As far as we know, none of the other children of that old polygamist made these buns.  I am the lucky progeny that gets to pass them on to my young and am sharing them with you.  Respect the buns. 

This recipe really isn't hard to make, it does require yeast, which scares some people, and if you happen to have a starter, feel free to use it as that is what my relations always used.  I do not have a sour dough starter, so I use active dry yeast.  It does take some time, as with homemade bread, you have to let it rise, punch it down and rise again, but it is so worth it.  And, it takes some imagination.  Let's get to it!

Cinnamon Buns
1 quart milk (a quart is 4 cups, but I gotta use old timey measurements! Also, this is how my family makes the milk, you boil 2 potatoes really well in 2 quarts of water, then you take out 1 quart of the potato water, remove the potatoes and set aside to be mashed, to the quart of potato water add whatever amount the directions call for on a box of powdered milk to make a quart of milk...why don't we just use regular milk?  I don't know!  My Mom says this makes it taste better and is what her Grandma did.  Okay.)
1 C. Sugar
1 Tbl. Salt
2 Tbl. Shortening plus more for greasing the pans and dough
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
1 Lb. raisins 
Light corn syrup (like Karo)
a bunch of white sugar and cinnamon

Place your raisins in a bowl and pour over them the hottest tap water you've got and let them sit and soak until needed.

Grease a 12 quart stainless steel bowl with shortening and set aside...if you don't have a 12 quart bowl, then use a couple large bowls and/or dutch me.

Mash the potatoes in a stand mixer and to them add the "milk", sugar, salt and shortening and mix well.  Once this mixture has cooled to luke warm, add the yeast and let it dissolve. Mix to combine.

***here's where you've got to go with the flow...this is a pioneer recipe after all***

Using paddle attachment on your mixer, add enough all purpose flour so the dough is like a stiff cake batter.  Drain your raisins and add them in (they don't have to be patted dry, just drain them.)  Mix.

Now, continue slowly adding flour and mixing with the paddle attachment until it just pulls away from the bowl (My mother thinks it took about 12 cups of flour, but she is just guessing as she was using her sifter and sifting it in).  At this point, switch over to your bread hook and knead for 5 minutes.

You could of course, go full pioneer woman (not that pioneer woman) and not use a mixer and just use brute strength, in which case you stir until you cannot stir any more. 
Place dough into greased bowl.  Spread shortening on top of the dough.  Cover with a tea towel and let rise until doubled in size.  This will probably take a couple of hours.

Punch the dough down.  You do this to de-gas it.

Let rise again until doubled... now, this is where you get all old timey again, you know your dough is done when you stick two fingers in and the marks stay!  If you look up at the picture at the top you can see where my mom tested her dough!

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Grease a bunch of 9" x 13" cake pans...and by a bunch I mean, as many as you've got.  This recipe will make approximately 4 dozen buns.

Mix up a pile of cinnamon and sugar.  Sorry for the vagueness.  I would say get 3 cups of sugar and enough cinnamon so that the color is light tan.  Take half of this mixture and put it in a small sauce pan.  Measure it because you need exactly the same amount of water that you have cinnamon and sugar.  So, if you have 1 1/2 cups cinnamon and sugar, you need to add 1 1/2 cups water.  Add in a large dollop of corn syrup.  This is to make your cinnamon syrup that gets brushed on top of your buns.  Place on stove, stir and bring to boil.  Once it has boiled, reduce heat to low and keep at a low simmer until needed.  The rest of the cinnamon sugar is going in the buns!!

Spoon a bunch of cinn/sugar onto your very clean counter tops.  Cut off a hunk of dough.  How much is a hunk...well...let me put it like this, take your hand, grab some dough, that's a hunk.  Now's the fun part.  You are going to roll out snakes with your dough in the cinn/sugar.  Make sure to always have your dough snake rolling in the cinn/sugar.  Once you feel it is long enough and cinnamon-y enough, then you coil it up and place it in a greased 9 x 13 cake pan. 

Now you need to let the rolled buns rise for a little bit, so here's what you do.  When you get a pan filled, set aside and cover with a tea towel. Fill some more pans and set on top of each previous pan, cover with tea towel.  Now that you've got your pans filled, take the bottom one and cook it while the others continue to rise.

Bake buns at 350 F for 15 to 20 minutes until GBD (golden brown and delicious).

Once done, brush on your cinnamon syrup over each bun.

And then dump, upside down onto a piece of parchment or wax paper.  Hopefully if you greased them well enough, they'll just fall out easily...if you didn't grease might have to pry them out.

Let cool until you can't stand it any longer!   Unwrap the luscious coils a few inches at a time and devour.  The best way, is warm from the oven...and maybe dunked in hot chocolate!!  My Great Grandma would dip her's in her tea. 

p.s. These freeze really well!  Put them in a freezer bag, squeeze the air out and you will have buns at a later date when the craving hits...and it will, oh it will.

Grandma explaining that she expects these girls to carry on this tradition of making buns...

Something tells me they will!!

Thanks for reading and remember to start thinking about the recipes you would like to share!


Shared at these great sites:
I Should Be Mopping the Floor 
Create With Joy 
DIY Home Sweet Home 
Making the World Cuter 
A Pinch of Joy 
The Dedicated House 
A Round Tuit 
Flour Me with Love 
Serendipity and Spice 
Be colorful 
Jam Hands 
Couponing and Cooking 
Alderberry Hill 
Boogie Board Cottage 
DIY Showoff 
Watch out Martha 
Modern Christian Homemaker 
The Velvet Moon Baker 
Coastal Charm 
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia 
Three Mango Seeds 
Home to 4 kiddos 
Sew Chatty 
The Frugal Girls


  1. Yum Heather - all kinds of YUM!!!!! I would love to try these - as in NOW with some tea! Your girls (mom included) are so cute! Love you all xxx

  2. They look delicious and your great grandmothers story is just amazing, can't wait to try these Heather I just wish I was eating them in your family kitchen.

  3. Respect the buns - love it :)

    They do look absolutely scrummy, thanks for sharing the recipe.

    Hugs, Estelle xx

  4. Wow, Heather, these look amazing. I love cinnamon buns, but the store bought ones usually taste artificial. I think the potato/milk part of the recipe is so interesting. What a fun, and tasty tradition to be carried on. Delish!! ~ Amy

  5. Heather, I was just at Starbucks this week and had one of their Morning Buns. These look very similar and I want to make a bunch! Do you know if you can freeze them?

  6. Love your rebel Granny's story. These look delicious. Going to have to fire up a batch after work. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Heather, I have no words....except....YUM! Oh my yumminess!!! What a great tradition. I love this recipe and pics are awesome, especially the last one :) Thanks for the wonderful share!!!

  8. What a fun story to go with delicious buns! Thanks for sharing.

  9. Ha ha! That is so fun! And, the respectable buns sound delicious!

  10. Um, those look REALLY good! Can I just come over to your house and have some? :)

    1. If we had any left, I would say come on over. When you have a free afternoon, give them a try, you won't regret it.

  11. Heather, I also have a family cinnamon roll recipe. It's history isn't as colorful as yours, although my grandmother's kin came from Missouri, so who knows. She did give birth to my mother on her kitchen table so I guess that's colorful...maybe too colorful! But I digress. Our cinnamon roll recipe also calls for potatoes. It makes them so moist. I make them and it's a very long process. Loved your story. I love family history. Thanks for sharing. I will always think of your rolls with the respect they deserve!

    1. Kateri, thanks so much for commenting. I love that you have a family bun recipe and that your recipe has potatoes in it too, and...I guess the kitchen table is better than the bathroom floor, right? Thanks for stopping by!

  12. Oh wow, these look really good! Yeast does scare me sometimes, but I've become more brave and am having mostly successes! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yeast is scary until you use it a few times and's no big deal. Hope you try making them and thanks for visiting.

  13. Oh YUM! These look delicious, Heather! I really enjoyed reading your story behind them. I'm a hit and miss at making cinnamon time they rise perfectly and the next they fall flat. I keep making them anyway. The flat ones are still good for dunkin. The pictures of Grandma and the girls are priceless!

  14. These look delicious! I have to admit, I probably won't try them since we don't eat sweets, and I rarely bake, can't remember the last time (if ever!!) I used yeast (except for pouring down the drain...we are on septic).
    Debbie :)

  15. I can assure you that these buns are the most delicious of all time!! As Heather's sister, I have eaten my fair share of these buns over the years. I actually like them best a little on the well done side. Dipped in a good cup of cocoa....I want some NOW!!! Store bought, frosting covered, artificial buns are not even close to these babies.

  16. These look so good! I found you from Try A New Recipe Tuesday. I would love it if you would share on my site:

  17. These and Saturday morning would be perfect together. :D Thanks for linking up.

  18. What a great story -- and the buns sound great too! You are featured this week on Busy Monday at A Pinch of Joy! I hope you will stop by and grab a Featured Button from the Button Box on the top of the sidebar. Pinned.

  19. These look incredible! I've been reading you over at following here too! :)


  20. These look absolutely amazing!!! I love the story behind them, so cool. You are very lucky to have family members around that can pass these recipes down for future generations :)