Cinnamon Buns: InSPIREd baking

Are you ready for some fun buns?

Cinnamon buns usually bring a smile to your face, but these bring a great big grin – maybe a little lopsided, but a smile as wide and high as a country mile.

While we were working on our recipe for Caramel-Nut Cinnamon Buns, we enjoyed the challenge of making buns that rose up out of the pan in tall spiraled peaks like the White Mountains – but dripping with decadent caramel instead of snow and footsore hikers.

Frank, our pastry chef extraordinaire, regaled us with stories of making buns like this with leftover dough scraps for his staff at the San Francisco Ritz, as he simultaneously created pan after pan of tall, twisted, tantalizing buns for us.

So what’s the secret to the spiral? It’s all about breaking the rules.

Roll your favorite cinnamon bun dough into a 14″ x 16″ rectangle. Place the rectangle so that the short sides are at the top and bottom as you face the dough.

Spread the dough with 1/2 cup Baker’s Cinnamon Filling that’s been mixed with 1/4 cup water. You can make the filling thicker or thinner depending on your preference. There should be enough filling to coat the entire surface of the dough in a thin, even layer.

Don’t have Baker’s Cinnamon Filling? (Bummer, man, it’s REALLY good!) Check out the recipe for an easy substitution.

To begin rolling, fold the top inch of the dough over the filling towards yourself.

The key to getting a spire on your cinnamon buns is to gently pull and stretch the dough away from yourself, then roll towards yourself. Stretch, roll, stretch, roll.

This, of course, is exactly the OPPOSITE of what we teach new bakers about making cinnamon buns. Usually you don’t want to get pointy top buns, so we discourage stretch-rolling. But once in awhile, all rules are meant to be broken; and curly topped buns are the happy result.

Cut the buns into 1″ slices using a very sharp serrated knife, or even a twist of dental floss. As you place the buns in greased muffin tins, give them a gentle push up from the bottom to begin the spire.

Don’t push too much, as too big a spire will result in a Tower of Pisa scenario once the buns are baked.

Let the buns rise in the pan for about 20 to 25 minutes or until full and puffed.

Bake the buns at 350°F for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until they’re golden brown with an internal temperature of 190°F.

As you can see, you’ll get a variety of spiral shapes depending on how tightly you rolled, how much the bun was pushed up, etc.

Check out the snoozer towards the top left. Poor thing just couldn’t keep his head up any longer.

Just like a perfect soft serve ice cream cone. I can’t wait to bite off the top!

First, a drift of Snow White Non-Melting Sugar.

Caramel drizzle, anyone?

Ah, the classic vanilla glaze.  To make the nice even stripes,  put the glaze in a zip-top bag and snip off the corner, making your own easy piping bag. Zigzag over the top of the buns, squeezing out icing as you go.

How about a bird’s eye view? It’s like flying over Bakery-land, with Cinnamon Bun mountains and Caramel Bun volcanoes.

There you have it. A simple secret to making buns that rival any purple mountains’ majesty, and leave you licking your fingers as you glide down every sumptuous slope.

Please bake, rate, and review our recipes for Cinnamon Buns and Caramel-Nut Cinnamon Buns.

Print our Cinnamon Buns recipe.

Print our Caramel-Nut Cinnamon Buns recipe.

MaryJane Robbins

MaryJane Robbins grew up in Massachusetts and moved to Vermont 20 years ago. After teaching young children for 15 years, she changed careers and joined King Arthur Flour in 2005. MaryJane began working on King Arthur Flour's baker’s hotline in 2006, and the blog team ...


  1. Gert Martel

    I enjoy KA recipes and posts. I have an issue with my cinnamon rolls. When they finish baking the layers always shrink leaving gaps. Is there a way to prevent this from happening? Thanks for your help.

    1. Susan Reid

      Hi, Gert. One way to get the layers to adhere to each other instead of pulling away is to brush the dough with milk before spreading your filling on it; the milk seems to bond with the dough a little better. Melted butter brushed right on dough is almost a guaranteed way to have the layers separate. If your filling has melted butter in it, try mixing it with the sugar and cinnamon to make a paste before filling the dough. Susan

  2. Andie Paysinger

    I’m 76 and I have been baking cinnamon rolls for 61 years- my mother owned a bakery in a village in Wisconsin and I began working there when I was 15, learning and helping the bakers.
    The bakery was not mechanized, all the dough was scaled by hand on the balance-beam scales (I still have one).
    Cinnamon rolls were a cinch, once I learned the basics and we made four kinds – the regular plain, with raisins and with raisins and nuts. The fourth kind was the “Danish” a bit more complicated but a favorite with the German folks in the area.
    When I was 17 my mom sent me for a basic course at Dunwoodie school in Minneapolis – only 5 women in the class of 40.
    I have always enjoyed baking, never a chore, although I do much less nowadays, I still bake cinnamon rolls at least twice a month, more often in the winter. In fact, I have a batch that just came out of the oven.
    I don’t moisten the Baker’s Cinnamon Filling. After rolling out the dough into a rectangle, I dot the surface with butter (leaving about 2″ bare at the top edge) and sprinkle it with the dry mix and then with the “plumped” raisins – (I steam the raisins or other dried fruits for about 8 minutes the day prior to using them in baking).
    I roll backwards from your method because that is more comfortable for me, habit of years.
    Cut the segments with a sharp bench knife and arrange them on a baking sheet.
    I have a proofing box and proof them for about 35-40 minutes, then bake.
    Very satisfying.

  3. Susanna

    I’m on a bread making kick and I want to make tender, light, stay fresh longer bread. Arming with that along with a new cinnamon roll post about sugar being hydroscopic, I tweaked this recipe to make the roll. My husband loves them. They are tender, stays tender for days, even after being refrigerated.

    Here is what I did.

    I mixed 100g of each flour and water with 15g of instant yeast to make a sponge. I leave it in the frig or on the counter, depending on when I plan to make the dough, to let it do its thing, rise baby rise. 🙂

    I skipped the potato flour, the rest of the yeast amount and I traded the grape seed flour with a teaspoon of lecithin. My friend taught me this trick and seems to make sense. Eggs have lecithin and egg breads are always so tender.

    When I’m ready to make the rolls, I put the sponge in the mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients, add the last bit of wet ingredients and follow the recipe.

    I brushed the rolled out dough with milk follow by sprinkling a cinnamon mixed with toasted pecans and some shredded coconut as filling. I like the toasted pecans texture and flavor.

    When I get the rolls into the pan, I put them into the frig overnight for the 2nd rising. I bake them in the morning, no need to bring it to room temperature, and everyone gets a treat.

    I do this starting Friday morning (sponge) to evening (1st rising and roll making) to bake on Saturday morning. Really nice to have a weekend treat.

  4. Dara

    I’m guessing we shouldn’t be adding water to the filling if we make our own mixture?

    I followed the directions exactly. The rolls kept falling apart on account of the added water to the cinnamon, sugar, and butter mixure I used for this dough recipe (

    I also had trouble fitting the slices of dough I was able to salvage into the muffin tins; many were much too big (I checked the measurements based off your suggested tin and it’s the same). They’re baking right now and I don’t feel these are going to turn out. 🙁

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Dara-
      I’m sorry to hear you had so much trouble with this recipe and we would love the opportunity to talk through everything with you to figure how to get you back on track. Please feel free to contact our Baker’s Hotline at 1-855-371-2253 and we’d be happy to provide you with further assistance you at that time. Happy baking! Jocelyn@KAF

  5. Latrice

    can these be made inside of cupcake liners to preven the sides from browning too much? and if so would baking them inside of a cupcake liner affect the rise of the cinnamon bun or the spiral? thanks

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      HI there,
      Thanks for sending the email too, I hope you received my reply :). Yes, you should be able to make these in well-sprayed cupcake liners without an issue. ~ MJ

  6. Lisa Brown

    These look delicious! and I will try them. But mostly I wanted to know if you are the MaryJane who taught at Creative Learning Center with Sharon and I way back when?If so it is a small world!

    1. MaryJane Robbins, post author

      OH my goodness! Yes, Lisa it’s really me. :). I think of you both often even though I am not teaching preschool any longer. In fact, there is a realtor up here with the same name as your daughter, so that makes me think of you guys all the time. Hope all is well, feel free to send me an email to catch up.

      all the best!
      ~ MJ

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