Cinnamon buns are right up there with bagels for me as far as favorite special occasion breakfasts go.
Bagels are a rare treat (made even rarer by the fact that in Kuwait it isn’t nearly as easy to find a decent quality bagel as it is in New York). But ironically (because there’s a Cinnabon that’s just a two-minute walk from where we live), cinnamon buns are an even more rare treat.
But last Christmas I had a serious cinnamon roll craving and I made it my business to copycat the Cinnabon recipe (which I will definitely be sharing with you at some point!). After a couple tries, I think my recipe was even better than Cinnabon’s (of course I’m biased though), and now regular Cinnabon doesn’t hold the same appeal that it used to. But delicious as they are, cinnamon buns are not something I make very often.
However, sometimes a special occasion warrants an insanely good cinnamon bun…right?
And sometimes when a killer cinnamon bun is in order, you just don’t have the time to whip up a batch.
But bread pudding. Oooh, bread pudding.
The genius thing about bread pudding is that it takes truly minimal effort (read: 10 minutes, and that’s if you do it while enjoying a cup of coffee and a chat with a friend) the night before you want to have it. Then after a quick bake the next morning, you can serve what is sure to be the hit of brunch to friends. Gooey cinnamon swirl, custard-y bread pudding, and rich frosting. It’s the stuff cinnamon dreams are made of.
Cinnamon Bun Bread Pudding
Cinnamon Swirl Syrup:
- 1/2 cup (110 g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 5 large eggs
- 2 cups (475 ml) whole milk
- 4 tablespoons light brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups cubed stale French bread
- 1/2 cup (60 g) powdered sugar (also called confectioner’s sugar, icing sugar, or 10X sugar)
- 4 tablespoons whole milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Butter or coconut oil, for greasing the casserole dish
- Generously grease a 1.5-liter casserole dish with butter or coconut oil.
- For the cinnamon swirl syrup, add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once boiling, cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly, and then remove from heat. Cool to room temperature.
- For the bread pudding, whisk together the eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add half of the bread cubes to the prepared casserole dish and drizzle on half of the cooled Cinnamon Swirl Syrup. Add the remaining half of the bread on top and drizzle on the remaining half of the syrup. Pour in the egg mixture, gently pressing down on the top of the bread with a spoon to make sure all of the bread pieces are soaked.
- Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate 12 hours or overnight.
- The next day, preheat the oven to 350F and let the pudding sit at room temperature while the oven preheats.
- Once the oven is up to temperature, bake the pudding until the custard is set and light golden on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.
- Whisk together all ingredients for the icing and drizzle on the pudding while it’s still hot.
- Serve warm.
Cream Cheese Icing Alternative: If you prefer cream cheese frosting for cinnamon rolls, add 1 oz softened cream cheese and start with less milk, adding more milk gradually until the frosting reaches your desired consistency.