These soft, buttery buns, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, are just sweet enough, but not too rich—so you can enjoy them anytime!
I like that these don’t look like the Cinnabon type cinnamon bun—the more common way to make them—and I love the satisfaction of peeling each layer apart. (Mmm… makes me salivate just thinking about it!)
They’re heavenly warmed up for breakfast!
Growing up in South Africa, it was our family tradition to break the fast on Yom Kippur with a warm Cinnamon Bulka (a/k/a Boolke). Waiting in anticipation to bite into Auntie Phyllie’s delicious, fresh-baked Bulkas made the fast all-the-more torturous!
When I moved to Los Angeles, my friend’s mom, Rita—who took in all the stragglers for the holidays—gave me a taste of home with her mouth-watering Cinnamon Bulkas, passed down from Bobba Skuy, who grew up in little shtetl called Varklan, near Riga, Latvia.
Nothing gives you more satisfaction than sitting down with a warm Bulka that you made from scratch!
That’s why I went the extra mile to make these easy enough for anyone to enjoy making them.
Thank you to my baking advisors!
- My friend Daniel, owner of Viktor Benes Bakery in Gelsons, Calabasas.
- Stephanie Ephron, an old friend of my brother, Neville, who knew me as a little girl, and now living in Dallas came across my blog through Stan-The-Good-Shabbos-Man’s Newsletter. (Small world!)
- Mimi Markofsky of Elite Catering, who kindly answers all my questions on my favorite Foodie Facebook group, Norene’s Kitchen, by favorite Canadian cookbook author, Norene Gilletz
I’ve updated this recipe, with step-by-step directions for success, incorporating all of their advice. (8/15/13)
Watch the YouTube clip and see how simple it is.
The highlight was making “bilkas” with Aja!
It seems that no matter what you do to this dough they are still edible! (Well, to an almost-four-year-old, anyway!)
I baked hers off in the toaster oven and she was in heaven!
What you will need.
Melted butter mixture.
Yeast before proofing.
Beautiful bubbled up yeast!
Kneading the dough (Love this pic!).
Smooth ball of dough.
Set aside in a warm place to rise.
Dough doubled in size.
Dough has doubled in size when indentation remains after tips of fingers are pressed lightly and quickly into dough.
Work with half the dough; refrigerate the rest.
Divide each half into sixteen pieces.
Roll each piece into a ball.
With the craggy side up, flatten into a round.
Keep rounds covered.
Butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and slit from the centre to the edge.
Form a triangle.
Combine on one baking sheet, about an inch apart.
Cover loosely and allow to rise for 20 – 30 minutes.
Brush with butter and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.
Bake until golden brown.
Transfer immediately to cooling rack.
Sit down and enjoy a warm bulka and cup of tea/coffee/milk!
- Parchment Sheets
- Bench Scraper
- Silicon Pastry Brush
- Instant Read Thermometer
- Cuisinart 5 1/2 Quart Stand Mixer
- The New Food Processor Bible by Norene Gilletz
- The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
- 1 cup butter, salted (plus more for brushing and greasing bowl)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar + ½ teaspoon for proofing yeast
- 1 ½ cups whole milk
- Cinnamon Sugar: ¾ cup sugar, 2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon butter, softened (for greasing the bowl)
- Melted butter for brushing (about ½ cup)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten with a fork
- 8 - 9 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for board
- 2 x 1/4 oz envelopes active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup warm water
- Set oven rack to the middle. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Dissolve top 3 ingredients (butter, sugar, milk) in a small saucepan over low heat; set aside to cool to lukewarm. (Do not boil—just warm milk till butter melts.)
- While it cools, stir 1/2 teaspoon sugar and yeast into 1/4 cup warm water—like very warm bath water. (100 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.) Let stand 10 minutes till foamy. If yeast doesn't get bubbly toss and start again!
- Kneading the dough: Put 5 cups of flour in mixing bowl of your mixer, fitted with the paddle beater. Make a well in the flour and add yeast, beaten eggs and warm milk mixture. Mix on lowest speed just until combined and smooth, 1 - 2 minutes. Scrape bowl and paddle.
- Change to dough hook. Add salt, and two more cups of flour, one at a time (with mixer off) and mix on low (Cuisinart #2) until each is incorporated. If dough is too sticky or doesn't form a loose ball that cleans the sides of the bowl, tap more flour on the side of the bowl - ½ cup at a time, with mixer running, until fully incorporated. The dough should be slightly sticky and soft, or the bulkas will be heavy. Knead each addition until completely worked in to the dough.
- When dough clings to hook, knead for about ten minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. (Cuisinart #3) Stop motor occasionally and poke dough to check for firmness and stickiness. Scrape bowl and turn dough over to incorporate all the flour. Knead just until it feels smooth and elastic and is no longer sticky.
- Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball. Place in large bowl greased with butter. Turn over once to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap and rise until double in size in a warm place, free from draughts, about 1 - 2 ½ hours.
- Once doubled in size, push your fist into the center of the dough; fold the outside edges into the center to fully deflate it. Flour board just enough that dough doesn't stick. Divide dough in half with a bench scraper. Return one half to bowl, cover, and refrigerate.
- Working with half the dough: Divide in half again, and work with one piece at a time, keeping the other one covered. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Slice in half, lengthwise. Divide each piece into 4 pieces; cutting off one piece at a time, 2 - 2 1/2 oz each, keeping the rest covered. Don’t make them too big or once they rise and bake they'll be huge.
- Roll each piece into a ball, and with the craggy side up, push down into your palm to form a round, about 4 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick. Place smooth bottom side on prepared baking sheets, covered loosely with plastic.
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in the microwave. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. (1/2 - 1 teaspoon each.) With a sharp knife, slit each round from the center to the edge. Fold one third of the circle on top of another third, and then fold the remaining third on top of that, to form a 3-layered triangle.
- Combine all 16 on one baking sheet, about an inch apart because they'll spread and rise more in the oven. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise again (not quite double), 20 - 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). When risen, brush the tops generously with melted butter (2 tablespoons) and sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar.
- Bake 16 to 22 minutes until brown and not doughy in the middle. Rotate pans halfway. If the tops get too brown cover loosely with foil. If the bottoms get too brown place another baking sheet underneath. Transfer parchment to wire racks immediately to cool.
- Serve warm. Reheat at 350 degree F for about 5 minutes, loosely covered with foil.
- To freeze: Cool completely before placing in ziplock freezer bags; suck excess air out with a drinking straw. Thaw and reheat.
- Once you've shaped the bulkas, you can refrigerate them overnight, covered with plastic wrap. Remove from refrigerator and let stand at room temperature one hour before baking.
- If the dough climbs over the hook, this usually indicates that it's sticky, and more flour should be added. The sooner all the flour is added, the less likely the dough is to climb the hook.
- You can knead the dough by hand for 10 - 15 minutes.
- Rising at room temperature for 1 - 1 1/2 hours is ideal, but you can rise dough in the oven for an hour. Before making your dough, put a tray with hot water on the bottom shelf and set the oven to 175 degrees F for 1 minute—then shut off.
- Or cover with a dishcloth and something thick (folded blanket or duvet) and rise overnight.
- Or rise in the fridge overnight—then let dough come back to room temperature.
- Dough has doubled in size when indentation remains after tips of fingers are pressed lightly and quickly into dough.