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Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns

Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns

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For the final recipe in the Basically Guide to Better Baking, you get all of the glory of a gooey sticky bun without the over-the-top sweetness. Instead of the usual brown sugar and butter filling, the fluffy buttermilk-laced buns are filled with a cinnamon-scented date purée. To make these, you'll have to knead, fold, and work with yeast, but the end results are more than worth it. A quick note on substitutions: The places where you can tweak this recipe to suit your preferences (and the contents of your pantry) are the filling and the glaze. The ingredients for the dough, however, are non-negotiable. For more information and to ask questions, head to our baking forum.


  1. Combine ¾ cup buttermilk and 6 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a small microwave-safe bowl (it won’t get smooth and that’s okay) and heat in the microwave in three 10-second bursts until just about body temperature (it shouldn’t feel hot or cold to the touch; an instant-read thermometer should register about 98°). If you don’t have a microwave, you can heat in a small saucepan over medium-low, stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

  2. Whisk 1 large egg, one ¼-oz. envelope active dry yeast (about 2¼ tsp.), and ¼ cup (packed; 50 g) dark brown sugar in a measuring glass to combine, then whisk into buttermilk mixture.

  3. Pulse 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose flour, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and ¼ tsp. baking soda in a food processor to combine. With the motor running, stream in buttermilk mixture. Process until about 80% of dough comes together into a ball (mixture will look very wet at first, then begin to pull away from the sides of processor), about 2 minutes.

  4. Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula, scrape dough onto an unfloured surface. (It should still be pretty wet and sticky.) Knead, pushing it away from you, then pulling it back toward you, until a smooth ball forms, about 3 minutes. The dough will grow silkier, tighter, and easier to work with as you knead. (Don’t be tempted to add flour; if dough is too sticky to work with, lightly oil your hands.)

  5. Roll out dough into a rough 8" square. Fold dough over onto itself to make an 8x4" rectangle, then flatten it slightly and fold over once more to make a 4" square. Roll dough back out to an 8" square and repeat folding process (you should be back at a 4" square). Pour 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil into a medium bowl and add dough (still folded); turn to coat. Cover bowl tightly and chill dough until doubled in volume, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.

  6. To make the date filling, bring 1½ cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Tear 1 cup (packed; 180 g) Medjool dates in half and remove pits; discard. Place dates in a small bowl. Pour hot water over. Let soak until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain dates and transfer to clean food processor; discard soaking liquid. Add 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 2 tsp. ground cinnamon, and remaining ½ tsp. kosher salt. Purée, scraping down sides as needed, until smooth, about 4 minutes. (You should have about ½ cup purée.)

  7. Time to assemble the buns! Grease a 10" cast-iron skillet with remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Punch down dough, then transfer to a clean, unfloured surface and roll out to an 8" square. Fold in half into an 8x4" rectangle, then fold rectangle over itself to form a 4" square (this is the same folding process you did before). If dough feels tough and uncooperative, let it sit about 5 minutes to relax and try again. Roll out dough to a 12" square about ¼" thick.

  8. Dollop date purée all over. Using a small offset spatula or spoon, spread evenly over dough, leaving a ½" border without purée along edge farthest from you. Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup (packed; 50 g) dark brown sugar over purée.

  9. Starting at edge closest to you, roll dough away from you into a tight log. Using a sharp serrated knife and long sawing motions, trim about ½" of dough from both ends and discard. Slice log crosswise into 3 sections, wiping knife clean between slices. Slice each section crosswise into 3 buns (you should have 9 buns total that are each about 1" thick). Transfer buns to prepared pan as you go. When you first place the buns in the pan, space them evenly. As they proof, the buns will start to touch (this is what you want so that when then bake they rise vertically in the oven.)

  10. Cover pan tightly with foil (or a domed lid if you have one) and place in a warm, dry spot. Let buns rise until they’re doubled in volume and spring back slowly when poked, leaving only a small indentation, 1–1½ hours, depending on how warm and humid your kitchen is. (If your kitchen is cold, you can let the buns rise in a turned-off oven with its light on.)

  11. Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Bake buns, still covered, until puffed, pale, and mostly set, about 20 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes if you prefer a soft and squishy bun and up to 25 minutes for a more toasted bun. Let cool slightly.

  12. Meanwhile, whisk ¾ cup (83 g) powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract, and remaining 3 Tbsp. buttermilk in a medium bowl to combine. (Vanilla bean paste will give you cute flecks, but extract offers the same flavor.)

  13. Brush glaze over warm buns (warm buns are key so that the glaze can soak into all the crannies) and serve from skillet.

Recipe by Sohla El-Waylly

Related Video

Sohla Makes Cinnamon-Date Sticky Buns

Reviews SectionThese were definitely a labor of love, as other reviewers have mentioned, but I had no problems with the recipe and the buns turned out absolutely delicious. I even made them dairy-free by creating my own "buttermilk" — 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar (white vinegar or lemon juice will also work) in a liquid measuring cup, then fill up to the 1 cup line with the milk alternative of your choice (oat milk for me). Yes, the dough was sticky. Yes, cutting the rolled-up dough into 9 slices gave me anxiety. But it was so worth the effort.Tasted great but so much work! Prob should have known that considering it's a recipe with yeast. Long process but the result is delicious.KatiehwalshAustin07/30/20These were so awesome. My boyfriend "hates" dates and he loved these; they don't taste like dates, they just taste less terribly-sweet and more complex. I found the recipe straightforward and well-tested as everything went perfectly. I did use coconut sugar instead. I don't have a food processor so I just kneaded by hand. I prepped the night before and then baked the next morning for the most amazing weekend breakfast.These turned out so good! Making them was a long process. I didn't have a food processor so I mixed and kneaded the dough by hand and made the date paste in a blender. The dough was VERY sticky. It got a little better after kneading, but I still had to cheat and floured my counter and hands. I used yogurt instead of buttermilk in the dough, added extra cinnamon to the filling, omitted the salt in the filling, and used half and half in the icing. Took a long time but turned out delicious and I would definitely make again. Next time I may add some orange juice or zest to the icing for a little tang.Great recipe! I don't have a full-sized food processor, so I just mixed the dough in a bowl with a spatula, drizzling the buttermilk mixture in slowly, and that worked perfectly well. Agreed with lots of other reviewers that you don't necessarily need the full additional 1/4 cup of brown sugar in the filling – I sprinkled maybe 2 Tablespoons and that added just enough sweetness. Don't skip the glaze though, it's heavenly and really brings the whole thing together. SOHLA IS A QUEENWhen I saw this recipe, I fell in love with the idea of dates replacing some of the sickly-sweet sugar you usually get in cinnamon rolls. I brought my baking courage, prepped the ingredients exactly to Sohla's wishes, and started the journey.What I finished this escapade with was a broken food processor and a cinnamon roll that resembled corn muffins. Flavor was stupendous, texture was cry-worthy given how much time I spent working. The dough didn't form a ball for me, and instead crept up the food processor blade and down into the rotor, resulting in a stinky, sticky mess. I broke out the Kitchen-Aid dough-hook, but everything was so sticky, I had to add flour to just get the dough out of the bowl, plus more to make it form a workable dough. For a recipe that takes two days, you better effin' love cinnamon rolls or be forever indebted to someone who really wants them.Moral of the story: save your food processor for the date mixture and you can achieve a workable dough with a stand mixer. The only advantage I can really think of is less to clean, but since you're making these rolls over 24 hours, you should have enough time to clean up everything anyway.WkndChefVentura, CA07/17/20This is just for the dough ( I didn't have dates and subbed orange marmalade mixed with toasted cardamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Some blueberries thrown on half for good measure) I also didn't have a food processor so did this by hand. The dough was really easy to work with, and I love the flavor, but it came out just a teeny tiny smidge dry. I'd like to try with the weighted measurements next time, or to just add a little extra liquid at the onset. All in all a keeper. For anyone wanting to try a non-date filling, these were a hit with the marmalade and spice filling.AnonymousMinneapolis07/16/20ALSO - didn't have a huge food processor (My mini one only holds 2-3 cups) so I used a hand mixer with the dough attachment on.Fun to make! I subbed buttermilk with unsweetened cashew yogurt (Forager brand) and vegetable oil with coconut oil in the dough. Dough proofed and rolled out fine. Only thing is I did find these to be a bit too sweet. I decreased the amount of brown sugar like another reviewer and I honestly could go without the glaze since the dates themselves are already pretty sweet.I enjoyed making this from start to finish! Thankfully the cups were translated to grams which worked well for me. The part that didn't exactly turn out well for me would be when making the date paste. I added a tad too much liquid and my paste became runny. other than that it tasted great!AnonymousSingapore07/03/20I am blown away by the outcome of this recipe. I did not expect my version to resemble anything close to Sohlae’s handiwork but due to the very thorough and easy to follow instructions, I am happy to say they did. The bun is so soft and light which contrasts well with the richness of the date mixture. The only thing that went wrong for me was the dough. It became too sticky to work with and I sadly had to add more flour because it was more like cake batter than dough. Is there anyway I can get the dough consistency without having to add extra flour?The texture of the bun itself was incredible, but for some reason my date mixture was awful: too salty, not enough cinnamon flavor (and I used good cinnamon, too), and too much oil flavor. I love the dough recipe & would definitely make it again, but with a different filling.roofbatSan Francisco06/11/20These buns are amazing. Followed the recipe to a t and everything came out perfectly. Since Sohla clearly knows what she's doing much more than some of your other recipe creators, how about you guys actually pay her for her videos? Whatever her salary, she obviously deserves to be paid much more.very tasty and easy to [email protected] from buffalo - if you don’t want the step by step images there’s an option (top right of step one on mobile) to hide imagesAnonymousbrooklyn06/08/20SO GOOOOOOOD!! Worth the work. #level10caesalmemphis, TN06/07/20Really great recipe that I’ve made several times. I use the mixmaster with the dough hook instead of the food processor as the dough is too heavy and sticky and burns out the food processor. My only real complaint is that it’s annoying not being able to print the recipe.AnonymousEdmonton, AB, Canada06/06/20Can you post recipes without all the hoopla? I just want the written instructions minus the play by play video bs.AnonymousBuffalo, NY, USA06/02/20In the end, these were delicious, however, the journey it takes to get there looks absolutely nothing like the dough in the video. I have now made these 3x, once with buttermilk, once with plain yoghurt, and once with milk soured with lemon juice, and all three times I have gotten a profoundly sticky dough that is incredibly hard to work with. It never has come into a ball in the food processor, and in fact, every time I try, my dough turns into the consistency of freshly chewed bubble gum, and similarly sticks to everything it touches. Takes about 10minutes to get it off the blades, and another 10minutes of hand kneading on a countertop swimming in oil just to get it to a point where im not constantly and painstakingly removing it from my fingers with a bench scraper. That being said, once these have proved the first time, the dough is a lot easier to work with, but is still stickier than any other bread roll dough I’ve ever encountered and I constantly have to stick it back in the fridge because trying to cut through it while its sticking the the knife, my countertop, and my hand is slightly easier when its cold. Buns come out of the oven fluffy, moist, and delicious, but the effort it takes to get there seems a bit bizarre when I see them come together so effortlessly for Sohla. I seriously wonder what I’m doing wrong :-/AnonymousLos Angeles06/01/20Love love love these buns!! For anyone who's curious, this recipe is very easily made vegan by subbing the egg for xanthan, flaxseed or your choice of egg sub and almond milk for the dairy - I added a bit of brine from my lactofermenting jars to get the effect of buttermilk to great success.AnonymousVancouver05/29/20Quintessential quarantine baking recipe! We've made these twice already and definitely a keeper recipe! Used whole milk kefir in lieu of buttermilk and it worked well. The second time I made it, I inadvertently skipped the addition of brown sugar for the filling. I was worried it would be ruined with only the date filling but I was pleasantly surprised, it still worked well and honestly a perfect level of sweetness for me! If anything might have been a tad too sugary (for my preference) with the extra brown sugar added to the filling (but still amazing). So just saying you can go with or without it and it still turns out great!AnonymousDenver, CO05/25/20Made them tonight for Eid. Only problem is parents ate most of them tonight, so question is do I make another batch?The only think I changed was that I didn’t have to wait 8 hours for the dough to rise. We live in Sri Lanka and the tropical weather means a hot humid kitchen. By hour 5 my dough was ready so went ahead and baked.It’s amazing!HebaHusainSri Lanka05/23/20the dough didn't come out as wet or sticky for me in the beginning for some reason (I think because I didn't have a food processor and hand-kneaded it) but after resting in the fridge I was able to work it the next day into something usable, but after baking they came out amazing and the dates were an amazing touch.Very good dough. I used it to make cheese rolls as suggested by Sohla's IG. No food processor and hand kneaded it. Highly recommend watching Sohla's IG stories on kneading as she gives tips and additional metric measures in it too (e.g. 170ml yogurt/buttermilk and ~87g oil). My dough was not that sticky probably since I used Canadian AP flour which has slightly higher protein. Rolling it out was difficult at first but resting helped.These are maybe the most impressive thing I've ever made? I was a little intimidated but followed the instructions to a tee and they turned out amazing!! The only adjustment I had to make was changing the pan, since my cast iron pan was too large and didn't let the buns cozy up to each other which is very important. I switched to a small Dutch oven and that worked perfectly even with the extra space above the buns. While kneading the dough, it started to get too sticky a few minutes in, so I just used a bench scraper to tame it back into shape and it quickly cooperated again. The texture of the dough was perfect in the finished product, and stayed pretty nice even 4 days later (we're a 2-person household and couldn't share these due to COVID). For leftovers, just pop them in the toaster oven for a few minutes to soften them up a little.soapnanaChicago, IL05/12/20


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