Cinnamon Bun Turkeys

Transform decadent cinnamon buns into cute little turkeys perfect for Thanksgiving breakfast. Crisp salty bacon and pecans offset the sweet[ gooey frosting.]

Total Time:
8 hr 40 min
50 min
7 hr 15 min
35 min

12 buns

  • Dough:
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from a 1/4-ounce package)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus more for the bowl
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (see Cook's Note)
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • Filling:
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, very soft, plus more for coating the pan
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • Decorative Details:
  • 12 pecan halves
  • 24 dried currants
  • 24 slices thick-cut cooked bacon
  • Glaze:
  • 1 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the dough: Combine the milk and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan and warm over low heat until it is about 100 degrees F (but no more than 110 degrees). Remove from the heat and sprinkle the yeast over the surface. Sprinkle a pinch of the granulated sugar over the top and let sit without stirring, until foamy, about 5 minutes.

  • Whisk the butter, vanilla and egg yolk into the yeast mixture.

  • Whisk together the flour, salt, nutmeg and the remaining granulated sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and stir in the yeast mixture with a wooden spoon to make a thick and slightly sticky dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until soft and elastic, about 6 minutes. Shape into a ball.

  • Brush the inside of a large bowl with butter. Put the dough in the buttered bowl, turning to coat lightly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and trace a circle the size of the dough on the plastic. Let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

  • Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead briefly to release the excess air; reform into a ball and return to the bowl. Lightly butter a large piece of plastic wrap and lay it on the dough. Cover the entire bowl tightly with the plastic and proof in the refrigerator for 4 hours or up to overnight.

  • For the filling: Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Whisk the granulated sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Cut off a 3-inch, or 5-ounce, ball of dough and set aside to make turkey heads. Turn the remaining dough onto a floured work surface and press flat. Then roll into an 18-by-10-inch rectangle, with a long edge facing you. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving about a 1-inch border on the side opposite you. Evenly scatter the cinnamon-sugar over the butter. Starting from the long side facing you, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder. Lightly brush the clean edge of the dough with water. Press this edge against the cylinder to seal.

  • Slip a long, taut piece of string or unflavored dental floss under the cylinder, about 1 1/2 inches from the end. Lift and cross the string ends over the cylinder, and then pull the ends tightly in opposite directions to cut a single roll. Repeat, cutting every 1 1/2 inches, to make 12 rolls. Place the rolls cut-side-down in the prepared pan, leaving 1 inch of space between them.

  • Cut the reserved piece of dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a 3/4-inch ball. Set each ball of dough aside in a separate baking dish. These will become the turkeys' heads.

  • Cover the rolls and dough heads loosely with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place to rise until both double in size, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Using kitchen shears pointing diagonally upward, make a horizontal snip halfway through the front of each ball of dough to form a pointy beak. Pull the beak down a bit to exaggerate the shape. Place a pecan half halfway inside each snip under the beak to form a "waddle." Place two currants above the beak for eyes; press lightly to secure. Place each dough head on top of the lower left hand corner of each cut roll to make turkeys.

  • Bake the buns until golden brown and the tops of the buns spring back when pressed lightly, about 30 minutes. (Leave the oven on.)

  • For the glaze: Meanwhile, sift the confectioners' sugar into a medium bowl. Whisk in the condensed milk, butter and vanilla to make a thick, smooth icing. When the buns come out, cool them in the pan for 10 minutes. Drizzle the glaze evenly over all of the bun bodies, but not the heads.

  • While the buns are cooling, warm the cooked bacon strips in the oven.

  • To serve, remove each bun turkey from the pan. Slice bacon strips in half. Insert four half-strips of bacon into the back-most cinnamon swirl, so that they form an upright fanned turkey tail.

  • Copyright 2016 Television Food Network, G.P. All rights reserved.

  • Cook's Note: When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)

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    This recipe is featured in:

    Thanksgiving Entertaining