cinnamon buns

“We are all children. We all need approval.”

~ Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly

If you haven’t heard of this book, it’s the memoir that Jean-Dominique Bauby, former editor of French Elle, dictated by blinking one eye. My friend Hugh, a retired psychiatrist, bought me the book last year. He said he knew that I would love it, and love it, I did. It’s a poignant, powerful book – a testimony to the human spirit. The kind of book that makes you seriously re-think everything. Everything you think you know.

Bauby was the man who had it all. Two gorgeous children, a glamorous enviable career, money, beautiful women, and travel. He was living the sweet life in the fast lane in Paris – when everything changed in a flash. Bauby was just 43 years old when he suffered a terrible, massive stroke that left him paralysed and speechless – a rare condition called Locked-in-Syndrome. The only movement he could make was to blink his one good eye. His other had to be sewn shut.

Bauby was in hospital in France when he dictated his remarkable autobiography. He worked with a woman who transcribed his blinks into words. They did this painfully, one letter at a time using a form of code. If you think writing a book is an epic project, imagine having to blink out each letter out individually.

Bauby died ten days after the book was published in 1997. A decade later, The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly was made into a stunning, astonishing film that won major awards at Cannes and other international film festivals. The film also scores 4.5 stars on Rotten Tomatoes.

This morning I got up while it was still dark and went into my kitchen to make a batch of cinnamon buns. It’s autumn and I’ve been under the weather and needing TLC, and was craving some serious comfort food. But as fabulous as these buns are, I was a little guilt-wracked about all the white flour and sugar.

Then, this evening, I sat down and watched The Diving-Bell and the Butterfly – a reminder that we don’t actually know what’s coming next and that life really is too precarious to waste one moment worrying about anything so inconsequential as a little white flour and sugar – especially when it comes in the form of  home-made cinnamon buns.

My late mother-in-law used this dough recipe only she didn’t have a bread maker. She was not only a superb cook – but also one of the strongest, kindest, and most capable women I’ve ever known. When she served these cinnamon buns – it was like love on a platter.

 Grandma M’s Cinnamon Buns

1/2 cup milk, warmed slightly
1 large egg
2 tbsp. butter
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine in order listed. Use dough setting. If you don’t have a bread machine mix together the warmed milk, sugar and yeast and let stand for approximately five minutes, then mix in the remainder of the ingredients. Knead thoroughly and set to raise until doubled in size.

Cinnamon Filling

1/4 to 1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tbsp cinnamon

Once the dough is ready, roll out to a rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick. Spread thickly with butter (use as much as you like – be generous!) and then sprinkle with brown sugar (1/2 cup) mixed with 1 tbsp cinnamon. I’m pretty conservative with the sugar – use more if you want the full-on Cinnabon kind of experience. Roll tightly starting with the long side of the rectangle. Divide in 12 equal portions. Place the rolls into a well-buttered Pyrex lasagna pan (9 x 13 inches)- giving the rolls room to expand. Set to raise for 30 minutes in a warm spot.

Bake at 375 deg F for approximately 15 minutes or until the buns are golden brown.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 tbsp butter
3 oz cream cheese
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch salt

Beat together and spread over the warm rolls before serving.


20 thoughts on “love on a platter

  1. This looks really delicious, and I enjoyed reading this post! I’ve never heard of the book/film, but will look into it! Food made with love always tastes better 🙂 It’s true how we should enjoy all the little things in life!

  2. I have never heard of Jean-Dominique Bauby. Now I am so intrigued. I need a new book right now and perhaps I should search for this one. Is it written in French? As for the cinnamon buns, oh my Lindy…these are wonderful! They look so comforting, I could use one right now at 7am. And I wouldn’t even think twice about the white flour and sugar! 🙂

    1. Oh yes – please do read the book – it’s beautifully written and so powerful. It was written in French but the translation seems to be excellent. It’s a shortish book – as you can imagine – having to blink out every single letter. But what it lacks in volume it more than makes up for in meaning.
      The buns are gone – and that’s a good thing! I’m glad you wouldn’t care about the white flour and sugar. That makes me smile. 😉

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment. Our love affair with cinnamon buns is interesting – they are so basic and yet – so special all at once. And even the smell – so evocative! Not much better than a cool morning, a kitchen that smells of baking and a pot of really great coffee. Really hard to beat!

  3. I LOVE the book and the movie, it’s inspiring, sad and everytime I think about it I am thankful for my life as it is. I also love the cinnamon buns, I am going to make your recipe this weekend. Warm soft cinnamon buns are just what I want! Life is much to short to sweat a little white flour and sugar.

    1. Oh I’m so glad you love Bauby too. I had not heard of him until my friend gave me the book. Then I could not believe how wonderful it was and I was aghast with myself for knowing so little! It really is a treasure for humanity. Incredible what he endured and his courage.
      And yes – a little white flour and sugar is sometimes just the tonic. 😉

  4. I love that book so much that I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch the movie in case it doesn’t live up to my expectations. Perhaps I should – with a freshly baked batch of cinnamon buns. Something else I’ve never made. These look wonderful.

    1. I know exactly what you mean and I waited a year before seeing the movie. It doesn’t follow the book exactly – but I still loved it. It’s wonderful that it keeps the memory of Jean Dominque Bauby’s incredible courage and spirit alive – for all of us – and for his family too.
      Lovely to hear from you here. Thank you!

  5. The buns look perfect – but how many of them did you eat in one sitting?! I read The Diving Bell and the Butterfly quite a few years ago and it still sits in my mind. None of us know what is round the next corner.

    1. Maria – so happy to see you again. I hope all is well. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is remarkable and not easily forgotten but I still found the film a good reminder course. As for the buns – I confess – I had one and a half buns in one sitting and another before the day was over. And that was it! I was pleased when they were gone or I might have had more!

  6. These were amazing – I didn’t know they were grandma’s recipe! That makes them even sweeter. 🙂 Loved seeing you today! xoxo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s