Breads, Rolls + Donuts Breakfast

Buttery, Flaky Morning Buns

morning buns

I promised another bun recipe for you, and here it is: Morning Buns. Unlike the Cinnamon Bun recipe you all love, this one uses a quick Danish dough, which gives each morning bun buttery, flaky layers. I based the filling off the famous Tartine morning bun filling – I recently went to San Fransisco for the first time ever, and got to visit Tartine and try their famous morning buns (which I am still dreaming about).

The buns are then coated in a cream cheese-orange icing, which brings out the orange flavor inside the filling, and also helps keep the centers tender and gooey.


Where the sweet fields do lie forgot,
Where willing Nature does to all dispense
A wild and fragrant innocence;
And fauns and fairies do the meadows till
More by their presence than their skill
Their statues polished by some ancient hand
May to adorn the garden stand
But, howsoe’er the figures do excel,
The god themselves with us do dwell.
-Andrew Marvell, The Mower Against the Gardens

Summer is upon us, and I admit happily that I am enjoying the leisurely approach to life. There are no alarm clocks waking us before the sun, no lunches to pack, no children complaining about homework. I still have plenty of work to do, but somehow the days seem longer and sweeter without school in the mix. We have spent a lot of our days reading: I am a big advocate of books before screens, and am determined to make my children into bookworms. So far, so good. Currently I am reading the Harry Potter series out loud to my kids, and we just finished The Goblet of Fire (with a four hour marathon reading session today, and I may not be able to talk for a week). I haven’t been able to settle on a book for myself – I keep starting and stopping books, losing interest quickly (so if you have any summer reading recommendations for me, I’d love to hear them!). My daughter is also starting the The Nancy Drew series, which makes me incredibly happy, as I also started reading them at her age.

A few other things:
*Molly was kind enough to mention my cookbook (affiliate link) in her Home & Kitchen Essentials article on Apartment Therapy.  Also, her new show debuted today on the Food Network!

*Last week I spoke about my chocolate chip cookie recipe going viral at the Cherry Bombe Radio event here in Minneapolis. Mpls. St. Paul Magazine reprinted what I had to say on their website, if you want to read it.

morning buns
morning buns

Making Morning Buns

Using the Danish dough recipe from my book, The Vanilla Bean Baking Book, filling adapted from Tartine Bakery.

I’ve made the morning buns in individual soufflé molds, specifically, these 3 x 2-inch copper mini molds from Mauviel. If you do not have soufflé molds, you could use ramekins instead, just make sure they are roughly the same size. The molds I used have straight 2-inch sides, which helps give the morning buns their tall shape. The sides of the pans are buttered and then dusted with sugar, which caramelizes the sides of the buns, making for an incredible roll. As much as I like soft, gooey cinnamon buns, this version is currently my favorite way to partake.

The one downside to the copper molds is that they are crazy hot when they come out of the oven, which can make it a little tricky to get them out. I use a kitchen towel and wrap it around the base of the copper mold, then run a knife carefully around each roll, and flip them onto a wire rack. Make sure to line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper as noted in the instructions, or the buns will stick to the bottom and it will be extra hard to get them out.

Easy Danish Dough Tips

The dough does need to rest overnight in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly. It’s important for the Danish dough to come to room temperature before you roll it out, or the butter will not incorporate correctly. This dough can be frozen, but doesn’t rise quite as nicely as when it’s fresh. If the dough is not used right away after being out and turned, it will puff up in the refrigerator. This will make it a little harder to roll out, but you will still have good results.

morning buns

Flaky, Buttery Morning Buns

Servings: 10 buns
Delicious morning buns made with an easy Danish dough, and filled with orange and cinnamon. Glazed in a cream cheese icing with more orange flavor.
Sarah Kieffer
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  • 3/4 cup whole milk warm (100-110F)
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 2 large egg yolks room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups (355g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) | 57g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) | 170g unsalted butter, cold, cut in 1/2-inch pieces


  • ½ cup (99g) granulated sugar
  • ½ cup (99g) brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Zest of 2 oranges
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled


  • 2 ounces cream cheese
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-4 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 cups (226g) confectioner’s sugar


For the easy Danish dough

  • Grease a large bowl.
  • In a large liquid measuring cup, combine the milk, egg, yolks, and vanilla.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on low. Add the room temperature butter and mix on low until it is incorporated into the flour and no pieces are visible. Add the cold butter and mix on low, until it is broken down and smashed a bit, but still in 1/2-inch pieces. Add the milk mixture and mix on low until combined. The dough will be very sticky and there will be visible lumps of butter. Using a spatula, scrape the dough into the prepared bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, or up to 3 days.
  • The next morning, transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. Knead 10-12 times, until the dough forms a ball. Cover the top lightly with flour and cover with a tea towel, let rest until it comes to room temperature. Pat the dough into a 6-inch square and roll into a 16 by 20-inch rectangle. If the dough sticks at all, sprinkle more flour underneath it. Brush any excess flour off the dough, and, using a bench scraper, fold the short ends of the dough over the middle to made three layers, similar to a business letter. This is the first turn.
  • Flip the dough over (seam side down) and roll into an 8 x 16-inch rectangle. Fold the short ends over the middle, business letter style. Repeat the steps again, for a total of four turns.
  • On the last turn, gently use the rolling pin to compress the layers together slightly. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour before using or keep refrigerated for 2 days.

To assemble

  • Butter ten 3 x 2-inch soufflé molds (see note above about soufflé mold specifics). Line the bottom of each mold with parchment paper, and then generously coat with granulated sugar, tapping out any excess. Place the molds on a baking sheet.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the sugars, cinnamon, orange zest, and salt.
  • Roll the dough into a 16 x 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture evenly over the top, pressing it lightly into the butter so it adheres. Starting at the long side, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pinch the seam gently to seal it and position the dough seam side down. Use a scissors or a sharp knife to cut the dough into 10 equal pieces. Transfer the pieces to the prepared pans and place them cut side up. Cover the pans loosely with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  • Adjust the oven rack to the middle lower position. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  • Remove the plastic and bake 22 to 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the rolls are golden brown. While the rolls are baking prepare the icing.
  • Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the morning buns cool for a few minutes. Use a kitchen towel or oven mitts to pick up each soufflé mold, then run a knife carefully around the edges of the pan, and flip the roll onto a wire rack. Carefully put the roll right side up, and repeat with the remaining rolls. Let cool for 5 minutes, then place a piece of parchment paper under the wire rack. Pour the icing over each roll. Serve warm.

For the icing

  • Place the cream cheese in a small bowl. Add the salt, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons orange juice and mix until smooth. Add the confectioner’s sugar and mix until combined, adding more orange juice if needed, until the desired consistency is reached.
  • Reply
    Malinda Clay
    Thursday, November 9, 2023 at 10:23 am

    I am just now finding you and so glad I did!! I can’t wait to try some of your recipes. As far as your request for books to read: try the Outlander series by Diana Galbadon. I have been a book reader all of my life (63) and hers are the best that I have read. The Starz series (some seasons also on Netflix) is so good.
    Thanks for sharing all of these wonderful recipes with the world!!!

  • Reply
    Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at 2:18 am

    Hi I made this recipe exactly as written minus the orange zest and I didn’t bother with the cream cheese glaze– suffice to say it is the best thing that I have ever baked in my life yet so far!
    I am an inexperienced baker, and the thought of yeasted breads truly scare me because of all my previous disasters. This recipe is wonderful and easy to follow. My morning buns were crispy on the outside and fluffy and flakey on the inside. The dough had so much flavour. It is well worth the time. Thank you!

  • Reply
    Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I am working part-time at a bakery that sells a hugely popular item called morning buns, and they are very similar to this except that they are made with croissant dough. I would love to give these a go to compare!

    Is there any way that I could bake the buns in a muffin tin?

  • Reply
    Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 9:42 pm

    How would you make this without a stand mixer? I only have a handheld mixer and a food processor. Would any of that work?

  • Reply
    Isabella A
    Wednesday, September 26, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    can i leave the shaped buns in the molds in the fridge overnight to bake in the morning?

  • Reply
    click here
    Monday, July 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm

    Cannot deal with this cuteness!!!

  • Reply
    Saturday, June 30, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    Did you mean to say that the dough does need to rise overnight? Confused by the note and the difference in the recipe. These look delicious! Thanks!

    • Reply
      Sunday, July 1, 2018 at 5:16 pm

      The dough does need to rise overnight – it does say so in the recipe, near the beginning. After the morning buns are shaped, they rise for a shorter time period. I hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Misrii - Homemade Food
    Friday, June 29, 2018 at 5:12 am

    These look so delicious! I love the buns

  • Reply
    Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 10:11 pm

    The name morning bun sounds even more appealing than cinnamon bun to me. I like your take with the moulds. If you’re still looking for a book, I recommend “The Measure of My Powers” by Jackie Kai Ellis. The book is structured with essays that end with a recipe so I found it hard to put down. Best, Shauna

  • Reply
    Kelsey @ Appeasing a Food Geek
    Wednesday, June 27, 2018 at 5:24 am

    These look and sound AMAZING! Seriously wish it was the weekend so I could whip these babies out. Also, I am obsessed with your site redesign. It’s gorgeous. Congrats on that and all of these other amazing things happening in your life! xo

  • Reply
    Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 11:36 pm

    WOW these buns look so delicious and perfect for weekend brunch!

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