John Whaite’s Cinnamon Swirl Buns

Cinnamon Swirl Buns
Photography by Yuki Sugiura

When we planned our production trip for our January/February British Issue, we knew a visit to John Whaite’s Kitchen Cookery School in rural Lancashire, England, was a must-see. Twenty-eight-year-old John won the third season of The Great British Bake Off; has authored four cookbooks, his latest being Comfort: Food to Soothe the Soul (Kyle Books, 2017); and opened the cookery school on his family’s dairy farm two years ago. We spent a few days with the entertaining baker we got to know through Instagram (@john_whaite) and had a jubbly time baking with him. Below, we share his Cinnamon Swirl Buns recipe that we baked, but to find more about our trip to Lancashire and what else we baked, check out our January/February British Issue! Improving upon the universally beloved cinnamon buns, John adds tang and crunch with a lemon glaze and generous sprinkling of pearl sugar in this cinnamon buns recipe.

John Whaite's Cinnamon Swirl Buns
Makes 12
  • Dough:
  • 2 cups (254 grams) strong white/bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 cups (250 grams) plain/all-purpose flour
  • 2½ teaspoons (10 grams) caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons (4 grams) fast-action/instant yeast
  • ⅔ cup (160 grams) warm water (105°F/40°C to 110°F/43°C)
  • ½ cup (120 grams) whole milk
  • 1 large egg (50 grams)
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • Flavourless oil, for greasing
  • Cinnamon Filling:
  • 9 tablespoons (126 grams) unsalted butter
  • ½ cup (110 grams) firmly packed dark brown muscovado sugar
  • ¼ cup (31 grams) plain/all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons (12 grams) ground cinnamon
  • Zest of 1 lemon (6 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon (2 grams) ground cardamom
  • Lemon Glaze:
  • ¾ cup (90 grams) icing sugar/confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) fresh lemon juice
  • Garnish: pearl sugar
  1. For dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add flours. Whisk in sugar, salt, and cardamom. Add yeast, and whisk into flour mixture. With mixer on low speed, add water, milk, and egg. Increase speed to medium, and add softened butter. Beat until a smooth, elastic dough forms, about 5 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with cling film (plastic wrap), and allow to rise until doubled in size, usually an hour but it could be longer if your kitchen is cool.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all Cinnamon Filling ingredients. (Use your hands as that helps to soften the butter and combine the ingredients more quickly.)
  3. On a floured workspace, roll dough into a rectangle of about 15 to 17 inches (38 to 43 centimeters). Spread Cinnamon Filling all over dough. Roll up in a tight spiral. (As you roll, pull toward you to create this tight spiral.) Push each end toward centre to compress roll. Trim off messy ends, then cut roll into 12 equal slices. (I use dental floss for this, which I slide under the dough to where I want to cut, then bring across the two ends, up and over the dough, pulling it tight to cut through—just like a cheese wire.) Place buns, spiral side up, in a 13x9-inch (33x22-centimeter) baking pan, leaving a little space between each one. Allow to rise until buns are swollen and wobble slightly when touched, about 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).
  5. For lemon glaze: In a small bowl, add sugar. Whisk in lemon juice until combined.
  6. Bake until risen and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. As soon as buns come out of the oven, glaze with lemon glaze, and sprinkle with pearl sugar, if desired


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