Updated: Oct 23, 2022
The ultimate Sunday baking treat - Masala Chai Cinnamon Buns. The dough is made with orange pekoe infused milk, so it gets that beautiful pinkish golden chai colour, then the filling is made with the classic brown sugar and cinnamon, and a HEALTHY dose of chai masala. I used a premade one from India, but it’s so easy to make your own as well (recipe below). Finish them with a generous amount of cream cheese frosting, and these will be done before the end of the night.
Masala Chai Cinnamon Buns
Prep Time: 2 hours Cook Time: 17-20 minutes Yield: 16-20 buns
For the Dough
1 cup milk
2 black (orange pekoe) tea bags
Warm water, as needed
2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 - 3 1/2 cups flour
3 tbs butter, softened
For the Filling
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbs ground cinnamon
1 tbs chai masala**
For the Frosting
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 - 1 cup powdered sugar (adjust according to your sweetness level)
1-2 tsp milk or cream (adjust to your desired consistency)
Salt to taste
Homemade Chai Masala **
2 tbs ground cardamom powder
2 tbs ground cloves
2 tbs ground cinnamon
2 tbs ground ginger powder
1 tbs ground peppercorns
1 tbs ground star anise
Add milk and tea bags to a small sauce pan and steep over low heat till tea infuses and milk is brown in color, 4-6 mins. Do not let the milk boil.
Remove the tea bags from the milk, and add enough warm water to make 1 cup. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer with the yeast and sugar. Let sit for a couple minutes to bloom.
Once the yeast has bloomed, add the egg and salt and use the paddle head attachment to mix. Add 1/2 cup of flour, and mix in low speed until fully incorporated.
Switch to the dough hook attachment, and add the remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, mixing on low speed at first then increasing to medium once the dough starts to take form.
Once 3 cups of flour has been added, add the softened butter in small pieces, until fully incorporated. The dough gets fairly sticky after adding the butter, so add a spoon more of flour at a time until no longer tacky and the dough is smooth.
Run the mixer for 4-6 minutes on medium speed to knead the dough. Once done, remove from bowl and put into another clean, oiled bowl. Cover and set in a warm place. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Once the dough has risen, prepare the filling. In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon, and chai masala until fully combined. Roll out your dough on a well floured surface into a large sheet. I rolled mine out to about 24 by 10 inches, but it doesn’t have to be exact. Spread 1/2 cup of the softened butter all over the base of the roll, making sure to cover every single inch of the dough. Sprinkle the brown sugar mixture all over the butter, then use your hands to press in the sugar as much as you can.
Tightly roll up the dough on the long side, then use a sharp bread knife to cut it into about 16-20 rolls. Place the rolls into a greased brownie pan (9x13), cover, and let rise for another 30-45 minutes until slightly risen. While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 325 F. Once the rolls have risen a second time, bake for 17-20 minutes.
Whole the rolls are baking, prepare the frosting. Combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract in a bowl. Whip using an electric mixer until combined. Add in the icing sugar, little by little, until all has been whipped in and you’re left with a thick frosting. Add in a little milk or cream to get the desired consistency that you like. Spread onto the warm rolls.
To make the homemade chai masala**, simply add all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Use for this recipe, and store remaining masala in an airtight jar or container for up to 1 year.