Cinnamon Buns

One of the greatest, loving, and caring women I’ve ever known is no longer with us. Grammy is in a much better place now, and for that I am grateful. I spent most of my life living next door to her, which made her the coolest grandma ever [dying my hair, making hamburgers by hand, checking out boys, working out together and flexing, teaching me to play the piano, going to the symphony, playing video games until 2am, going out for Thai…]. I learned so much about life and love, and have so many great memories. She was a giver, and a lover of life and family. It sucks to know that I can’t call her on my drive home from work anymore, but she will always be with me, most definitely in my cooking. She’s a huge reason that I started this blog, and one of my biggest fans. Words will never, ever portray how incredible she was. If you ever had the chance to meet her, you’ll know exactly what I mean. If you didn’t, I’m sorry you didn’t get the chance. I will love her and miss her. Always.

09/26/1946 – 02/19/2013

One of the first foods I associate with Grammy is cinnamon rolls. She picked up a recipe from her mom that she ultimately passed down to me a time or two. I haven’t learned the ways of just feeling a recipe. She never had to write anything down or measure. She just felt it. We always talked about getting it down on paper for me before she was gone, but unfortunately it didn’t happen. She inspired a craving for some a few weeks ago. While I didn’t have her recipe, I had this one to go off of. There is plenty in the Smitten Kitchen repertoire that would make my grandma proud. I have no doubt that she would have loved these all the same, so these are for her.

Inspiration: The Smitten Kitchen


  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar, separated into two 1/4 cup amounts, plus a pinch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry active yeast
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for the counter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature, plus more for the muffin tin(s)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


Warm the milk and the pinch of sugar in a bowl or a measuring cup so it’s just warm to the touch. Sprinkle in the yeast and let it sit for a good five minutes until it’s all foamy. In another small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup of sugar with the egg. Slowly mix it into the yeast mixture.

Whisk together the flour and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer. With a paddle attachment, and it running on its slowest setting, pour in the yeasty egg mixture, mixing until combined. Add three tablespoons of butter and let it knead with a dough hook for 10 minutes. Butter a large bowl, cover it, and allow it to rise in a draft free place for an hour until it has doubled in size.

Butter your muffin tin(s) for 12 muffins and set aside. Whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, three tablespoons of butter, and cinnamon. It’ll be a gooey, buttery, delicious mess. Try not to eat it all while you wait for the dough.

When the dough has risen, clear a floured spot on a table or counter. Deflate it and let it rest for five minutes. Roll the dough out until it’s at least 20″ long and the other side as big as you can get it. Spread the cinnamon sugar butter over the dough. Roll it up, starting with the 20″+ side. Using a serrated knife, cut 12 equal pieces of dough. Place them in your prepared muffin tin(s). Cover them and allow them to rise 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350°. When the muffins are ready to go in, let them back for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. If you have a thermometer, the middle will be about 190° in the center. Allow them to cool before popping them out of the pan. Eat immediately because they’re gooey and awesome, or let them sit on a wire rack. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap if you’re not eating that day. Share them with a loved one.

9 thoughts on “Cinnamon Buns”

  • Lovely, lovely post to your grandmother. Am I surprised that we both associated cinnamon buns with our grandmothers? Not particularly. Mine made the most amazing ooey-gooey buns–and yeah, it was all just a “as you go” recipe, nothing with actual measurements. I fail at baking WITH a recipe, so I don’t have hopes of recreating her dessert-for-breakfast skills. Great idea to make them in muffin tins–then it’s like a muffin, and muffins are good for you.

  • My grandma also made the best cinnamon rolls! I do have her recipe, which uses an entire 5 pound bag of flour. Yeah, she didn’t cook for any less than an army. Plus, if you are going to make one cinnamon roll you might as well make 80, am I right?

  • I’m so sorry to hear this. Hope you and your family are doing ok! Your grandma and her cinnamon rolls both sound just about perfect. My grandma’s most classic recipes were her gingersnaps and pumpkin chiffon pie, although at least the pie is actually measured out & written down somewhere. 🙂 Instinctive baking–what a skill.

  • I’m sorry, Michelle. I admire the relationship you had with her– playing video games, checking out boys and flexing at the gym? She sounds like a beautiful person (and she looks very beautiful in that picture).

  • *hugs from Pittsburgh*
    I’m sorry to hear about her, but I’m so glad that you have all of these wonderful memories. She would be so happy to know that you’re thinking of her and sharing her awesomeness with others 🙂

  • After visiting yesterday, I had to go back and find this blog entry. Beautifully written, and again, I’m so sorry for your loss. She was, undoubtedly, an awesome grandma to you and your friends. Now I’m inspired to try this recipe, all in the name of Grammy 🙂

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