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The Kitchn: These breakfast buns are like grown-up cinnamon rolls

By Grace Elkus on

The secret to a stress-free brunch party? Finding a foolproof, big-batch, crowd-pleasing recipe you can count on every time. This is mine (and should be yours too).

These fluffy buns are sweet enough to please the pastry-lovers but much less sugary than your average cinnamon roll. Round out the table with a big bowl of fresh fruit and a pot of hot coffee, and you've got a pretty perfect breakfast spread on your hands.

Not your average cinnamon roll

When I was a kid, I loved unraveling the spirals of a cinnamon roll and slowly eating my way to the gooey center -- whether it was a Little Debbie Pecan Spinwheel (my favorite after-school snack) or a giant homemade bun from my dad's bakery.

But now that I'm an adult, I find traditional cinnamon rolls to be much too sweet. So when I made these sweet potato cinnamon buns for the first time, a lightbulb went off: I could still enjoy the pillowy-soft spirals of a cinnamon bun, but with a less-sweet dough and a totally new flavor combination. Adding the flesh of a cooked sweet potato to the yeasted dough gives these buns their gorgeous orange hue, as well as a slightly earthy flavor that offsets the sweetness, and a bit of moisture that ensures these bake up tender and fluffy, and never, ever dry.


From there, I began experimenting with flavor combinations. Orange is a natural pair for sweet potato (you'll often find orange juice in sweet potato casserole), so I added orange zest to both the dough and the filling, and made a simple powdered sugar glaze with freshly squeezed juice. Warm, slightly-spicy cardamom tastes great in both sweet and savory dishes, making it the perfect spice to swap in for cinnamon. Chopped pistachios add a bit of crunch and a gorgeous pop of green. Lastly, opting to sweeten the buns with dark brown sugar instead of granulated gives them a more complex, molasses-like flavor.

If you're hosting brunch on the later side, you can wake up and make these the morning of. But if you want to serve warm buns to early risers, see the recipe notes below for how to prep the dough in advance.

Sweet Potato Cardamom Buns with Pistachio and Orange

Makes 12 buns


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