Banana Cinnamon Buns are delicious! (Bookmarked Recipes #24)

go directly to the recipe

summary: recipe for banana cinnamon buns; submission for “YeastSpotting” and “Bookmarked Recipes 24”; click on photos for larger views

Bookmarked Recipes - every MondayBookmarked Recipe for YeastSpotting

banana cinnamon buns Initially, I was going to make these again (and NOT burn them) before publishing the recipe. But then I came to my senses. I’m so far behind that this may never get done if I don’t do it now. And the recipe for these banana cinnamon buns are too good to be left in a folder.

I believe I mentioned that I got the idea for the buns after reading the novel, Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks. There was no recipe for banana cinnamon swirl bread; just a note to add more bananas to the The Tassajara Bread Book recipe for Banana Sandwich bread and make it into a cinnamon swirl bread. The description of the banana bread was so wonderful that at the time, I really wanted to make it.

So ages ago, I got the Tassajara book out of the library. It’s so horribly laid out (for me anyway) that I didn’t want to buy it – even though some people swear that it’s a fabulous cookbook. After a lot of page flipping back and forth from basic formula to additions to… um, NOW which page am I supposed to turn to???, I finally scrawled down the recipe for the bread. And promptly forgot that I had done it.

Because, for some reason, we hardly ever buy bananas. No idea why. Maybe it’s because they have to travel so far. Maybe it’s because T has eaten bananas ripened on the tree and turns his nose up at the insanely green bananas available to us and will only eat them when they are at that perfect stage with just a few brown dots on the otherwise completely yellow skin.

A week or so ago, I saw bananas on sale. And bought them. Green green bananas that didn’t seem to want to ripen to that perfect stage. Until they did and in an instant, three of them went past to the other stage of being only good for baking.

At last!! The perfect opportunity to make the Tassajara bread!

huh?? When I looked at my scrawled notes for the Tassajara bread the other day, I stared in disbelief. What did those chicken scratches mean?? No idea!! This image is roughly what it looks like (I don’t dare to photograph the actual scrawling – it wouldn’t do for people to see how illegibly I write when in scrawl mode…) I couldn’t look in the book – I’d long since returned it to the library. And long since decided against buying it. (As I say, I’m sure it’s a fine book; it’s just not for me.)

The next day I went to begin the bread. What the…??? There were only TWO bananas. Someone (who shall remain nameless, but suffice it to say that it’s the same someone who made a face when he saw the state of the bananas and swore he wasn’t at all interested in eating them) had eaten one. Granted, I didn’t say “DON’T eat the bananas”; I just said, “I’ll make banana bread with those bananas.” :lalala:

But I went ahead anyway, figuring that the Tassajara version with fewer bananas would be pretty darn good too. I also decided that instead of making bread, I wanted to make buns. But not just any buns. I would try shaping them the way that Petra ‘Cascabel’ (Chili und Ciabata) had shaped her cinnamon buns….

I really love these buns.

banana cinnamon buns The banana flavour wasn’t very pronounced though. I think that Ryan Hendricks is right; these really do need more banana. T thinks they aren’t sweet enough. (Maybe with one more banana, they’d be sweet enough… :-)) And I’m afraid that my shaping wasn’t quite right. The buns look fine but not nearly as wonderful as Petra’s “Flop und Top” buns. If you haven’t already seen them, do look; they’re beautiful: Chili und Ciabata: Finnische Zimtohren

Here is what I did to make our buns:

Banana Cinnamon Buns
based on a recipe in the Tassajara Bread Book by Edward Espe Brown, notes about the recipe from Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks, and shaping by Petra (Chili und Ciabata)

makes 20 buns

  • ¼ c (60ml) lukewarm water*
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 Tbsp demerrara sugar
  • 2 ripe bananas (use 3!)
  • ¾ c water
  • ⅓ c skim milk powder
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I used safflower)
  • left-over sludge after feeding wild yeast (optional)
  • 1 c whole wheat flour**
  • c unbleached all-purpose flour**
  • 2 tsp seasalt
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted***
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp white sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon


  1. In a smallish bowl, mix yeast and a few grains of demerara sugar with ¼ c lukewarm water (do the baby’s bottle test on your wrist). Let stand as you mix the other ingredients or until it bubbles (5 to 10 minutes).
  2. In the meantime, mash the banana in a large mixing bowl.
  3. To the bananas, add the rest of the water, the rest of the sugar, milk powder, the lightly beaten egg, and oil. Using a wooden spoon, stir until smooth.
  4. Add the flours, salt and left over sludge from feeding wildyeast (if you have it). Remember to add the yeasted water. Stir well with a wooden spoon.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Wash and dry your mixing bowl. This prepares the rising bowl AND gets your hands clean.
  6. Hand knead the dough for 8-10 minutes til the dough is smooth and silky.
  7. Put the dough in the clean mixing bowl. (It is entirely unnecessary to oil the rising bowl!) Cover and leave in a no-draft place til it doubles (around 2 hours).
  8. Shaping: When the dough has doubled, melt the butter and allow it to cool to room temperature. Combine the sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl.

    Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board. Divide it in two and using a lightly floured wooden rolling pin, roll one of the pieces, as thinly as you can, into a long rectangle. Evenly slather the top of the rectangle with half the melted butter and half the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll the rectangle up as tightly as you can to form a long tube. Cut diagonally and use a chopstick to press down the centers so that the spiral flares out. instructions for shaping and cutting buns

    Place well apart on parchment covered cookie sheet. Repeat with the other piece of dough. Cover the shaped buns with a damp tea towel and let sit for about half an hour.

  9. When the buns have doubled, turn the oven to 350F. Gently press down the centers of the shaped buns to flare them out again (not entirely necessary, but it’s what I did.) Spray liberally with water and put them on the TOP rack of the oven to prevent them from burning on the bottom. Bake for about 15 minutes in total, turning them around once to account for uneven oven heat. They are done when they sound hollow on the bottom. Allow the buns to cool on a well ventilated rack before serving. If you wish to eat warm cinnamon buns, reheat them gently in the oven.
*Tap water is fine to use – just make sure that it has stood for at least 12 hours so that the chlorine has dissipated.

Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in your hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave and add cold water until it is the correct temperature (use the baby bottle test on the back of your wrist – your fingers have no idea of temperature!)

** The all-purpose flour is “No Name” unbleached (about 11.5% protein). The whole wheat flour is “Five Roses” (about 13% protein). Our cup measures hold 250ml (slightly more than the US cup).
edit September 2013: How much flour??? When I was revisiting this recipe, I noticed a discrepancy. It said “3½ c unbleached all-purpose flour” but the title spec said “2+1/2 cups”. I looked again at the original scrawled recipe I had followed initially and while it was not much help, I’m guessing that when making half the recipe, I must have used 2+1/2 cups of flour if the full recipe said to use 6-8 cups.

*** Next time, I’ll use one more banana in the dough and in the filling, I’ll use softened butter and cream cheese in place of the melted butter.

Events: YeastSpotting and Bookmarked Recipes

Bookmarked Recipes
Bookmarked Recipes - every Monday Ruth (Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments) created this event to urge herself (and everyone else) to actually make the several recipes they have bookmarked. For complete details on how to participate, please read the following:

Bookmarked Recipes #24 is hosted by Pam (Sidewalk Shoes).

Yeastspotting - every Friday ( image)

Each week, Susan (Wild Yeast) compiles a list of many bread-specific recipes from across the web. For complete details on how to be included in Susan’s (Wild Yeast) YeastSpotting round up, please read the following:

edit 28 September 2008: I just finished reading SAVEUR magazine #114 (The Breakfast Issue) and there in the kitchen notes was a panel talking about all the trials they had gone through baking cinnamon buns:

One batch would […be…] perfectly risen and golden brown on the outside but gooey and undercooked within; the next batch would look great on the inside but have a blackened bottom […]

They tried pyrex (glass heats too slowly so the buns had oozed over the sides by the time they were cooked); then they tried dark non-stick metal pan (pan heated too quickly so the buns burned on the bottom); then they tried light-coloured aluminum (the buns were juuuuuust right).

But I’m not wild about using aluminum. I think I’d rather try the top shelf method first. Still, I sure wish that I’d read the end of this particular SAVEUR magazine before I burned my banana cinnamon buns! The cautionary tale might have triggered what’s left of my brain into remembering to put the buns on the top shelf of the oven.

(I’ll just say this one more time for me: Bake cinnamon buns and any other sweet rolls on the top shelf!!)

edit 29 September 2008: Pam has posted the Bookmarked Recipes #24 roundup (

6 responses to “Banana Cinnamon Buns are delicious! (Bookmarked Recipes #24)

  1. MyKitchenInHalfCups

    I think you’ve done brilliant Banana Cinnamon Buns here. They look gorgeous AND you’ve taken several ideas form several sources and put them together into very successful Banana Cinnamon Buns!

    You’re far too kind, Tanna. I agree that they were very successful from above… but from below, not so gorgeous. If only I hadn’t burned them on the bottom! – Elizabeth

  2. pam

    I may try these over fall break, they sound so good! Thanks for your entry!

    edit 29 September 2008: Thank you for hosting, Pam. The buns are good. Just make sure that you bake them on the top shelf of your oven. And if you have a light coloured aluminum tray, it might help too. Because of the sugar content, they really want to burn on the bottom. -Elizabeth

  3. Susan/Wild Yeast

    Yeasted banana sandwich bread is very appealing but I must say banana cinnamon rolls are more appealing! The shaping is terrific on these and they look gorgeous; what’s a few black bottoms among friends?

  4. Natashya

    I have a spattered old copy of the Tassajara bread book, it has been a while since i have baked from it.
    These look delicious, and I love your instructions – you are definitely a scientist in the kitchen!

    I hope you can decipher the instructions, Natashya. AND I hope that nobody eats your extra bananas just before you try making these. -Elizabeth

  5. Heather @girlichef

    Ha! Okay, if only I hadn’t thrown out my chicken scratch piece of paper from when I very first bought the Tassajara bread book…for that exact bread…it looked quite similar (but so messy)!! I love the shaping of these buns, they’re beautiful. And YES, the banana flavor in this recipe is very unpronounced. I do remember your other post, because I’ve always wanted to make a bread shaped in that fashion!

    Oh, do make the braided ring, Heather! It is quite satisfying! I must say that I’m sorry that I never took the opportunity to write to Judith Ryan Hendricks to find out what kind of chicken scratchings she had for the banana bread recipe. Although… if she didn’t include the recipe in either of her bread novels, perhaps her chicken scratching was completely indecipherable. :-) -Elizabeth


Leave a Reply to Susan/Wild Yeast Cancel reply

You must fill in the "response", "name", and "email" fields. Please rest assured that your email address will never be posted or shared. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam; learn how your discussion data is processed. Please note that the optional fields that point to your website URL and website name may be removed without notice. For more information about what can (or cannot) be included, please read the Discussion Policy.