Milk Bar Mondays: Cinnamon Bun Pie


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I have been coveting the book Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi for quite some time. She’s a self-proclaimed sugar-aholic, she unapologetically cooks with butter, sugar, eggs, Skippy peanut butter, Cap’n Crunch cereal, cream, and fat.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

She can apparently consume raw cookie dough by the batch.

I love this woman already.

She creates crazy, decadent, mind-blowing recipes that include ingredients ranging the gamut from clear imitation vanilla extract rather than expensive vanilla because it has a “taste people associate with home” to ingredients you probably don’t have laying around your home, like glucose, freeze dried corn to grind into corn flour, citric acid, and feuilletine.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

If you’re not familiar with the book, you should to be, but you are warned.

First, the recipes in the book are not of the quick and easy variety. Most recipes have recipes within the recipe.

For example, in the actual Cinnamon Bun Pie recipe in her book, first you are to make mother dough from scratch.

Then make cinnamon rolls with it.

Then, make a liquid cheesecake filling from scratch.

That’s my rendition of liquid cheesecake filling, oozing, below.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

Then make a crumble topping.

Finally, combine and layer all the recipes within the recipe together and bake.

Ingredients for pie in bowl

I love anything with a crumble topping and was thrilled to get my crumble on.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

Secondly, many of the recipes themselves are (extremely) over-the-top.

Try this title on for size: PB & J Saltine Panna Cotta: Concord Grape Jelly, Peanut Butter Crunch.

In that recipe, you’d make panna cotta (I hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to make it until I read about it)

Make your own grape jelly (making homemade jelly just to use within a recipe? I just made my first ever batches of jelly here and here last month)

And then make the peanut butter crunch (peanut butter recipes, I can handle those)

Amazing? Yes, I’m sure. Time consuming? I can guarantee it.

You be the judge if it’s worth it to you to cook like this. This cookbook is for people who love to create, love being in the kitchen, and are bored by standard issue chocolate cake and run-of-the-mill peanut butter cookies and who want to elevate their culinary creations to the next level. Christina calls these people “hardbodies”; those who go above and beyond, never complain, work through the toughest of times, approach each recipe and task with a sense of humor, keep cool, and keep creative. She further states, “Softbodies need not apply in our kitchen.”

If you eat too many of these cinnamon rolls, softbody in the more traditional sense of the word is a foregone conclusion. But worth it.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

Some of those hardbody types include the ladies who formed the group Momofuku Milk Bar Monday’s in which they are cooking their way through the book, one recipe at a time.

Audra from The Baker Chick

Cassie from Bake Your Day

Erin from Big Fat Baker (the original recipe for Cinnamon Bun Pie is on Erin’s site today)

Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker

Krissy from Krissy’s Creations

Meagan from Scarletta Bakes

Nicole from Sweet Peony

Follow the Milk Bar Monday ladies on Twitter

Each member cooks the same recipe and everyone posts it on Mondays. I was honored when the ladies asked me last week if I wanted to be a part of their group. Ever since they began in a month ago, I have been eyeing all of their posts, every other Monday, secretly wishing I could do something so fabulous, and took being asked to join as a cosmic sign from the Cooking Gods.

Based on time constraints and the short notice for this post, I did not make my cinnamon buns from scratch. Instead, I used these. Like using a boxed cake mix, or boxed brownie mix, there’s no shame my friends.

Can of Pillsbury cinnamon rolls

I have a feeling that if I had made Christina’s recipe as written, 99% of you reading this would never make it anyway.

And I want you to make these!

The way I made this “pie” (as an 9×9 pan of bars) is extremely do-able, with only about 15 minutes of active work-time in the kitchen.

Ingredients in mixing bowl

And the taste, the layers, the combination of it all.

These cinnamon rolls have enough layers and butter and fat to make Paula Deen jealous. I may need to buy bigger pants.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

Topped with a Butter + Sugar + Cream Cheese mixture.

Topped with a Cinnamon Streusel layer.

A nice light dessert.

Cinnamon Bun Pie



Cinnamon Bun Pie, inspired by Cristina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook

Makes 8 to 12 servings

8-count package of refrigerated cinnamon rolls

8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Cinnamon Streusel Topping

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch salt, optional

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare an 8-by-8 or 9-by-9 inch baking pan by lining it with aluminum foil and spraying it very well with cooking spray. Place the cinnamon rolls in the pan, distributing them evenly. There will be gaps. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and blend until mixture is smooth. Pour this mixture over the cinnamon rolls and spread evenly over the entire pan.

For the streusel topping combine flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon, salt in a small bowl and stir with a spoon until combined. Add the melted butter and vanilla, tossing it with a spoon until pea to almond-sized dark oat clusters form. Sprinkle the streusel in an even layer over the top of the cream cheese layer. Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until edges begin to brown very slightly, taking care not to overbake because these are best when gooey.

Allow dessert to cool before slicing and serving. Optionally, add or drizzle any frosting over the top of the dessert if the brand of packaged cinnamon rolls you purchased came with frosting included. Dessert will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator. Gently reheat individual servings of refrigerated leftovers in the microwave if desired.

Note: The cinnamon rolls will rise underneath the layers of cream cheese and butter and the streusel topping, so take care that your baking pan is deep enough to accommodate this. A “standard” depth 9-by-9 inch baking pan is what I used and I barely had enough room to accommodate the growth and rise, but was fine. I suggest placing your baking pan on top of a cookie sheet so if there is a bit of overflow, it will be caught on the cookie sheet rather than the bottom of the oven.


If you are looking for a seriously great weekend morning recipe, a brunch recipe to impress the heck out of everyone who eats them, or need something for a party, potluck, or to replace standard-issue vanilla cake at a bridal or baby shower, make these.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

Scott told me these were the best cinnamon rolls he’s ever tasted. Better than Cinnabon. I agree and I have a thing for Cinnbon’s. I worked at a job at the mall inches away from the food court and can tell you a thing or two about Cinnabon’s or Mrs. Field’s.

They may have started with a little help from Pillsbury and ironically the Pillsbury wrapper said they are “made with Cinnabon cinnamon” whatever that means.

The half pound plus of butter and cream cheese took them from canned discs of dough to rolls of pure glory.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

The crumble topping added a hint of crunch and texture to an otherwise smooth creamy layer and fluffy dough, and it “absorbs” some of the goeey cream cheese and butter layer perfectly.

They are so moist, and rich, and well, ridiculously good.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

I normally go to bed thinking about the first cup of coffee I’m going to drink the next day but I went to bed thinking about these after I made them.

And then couldn’t bear to wait for morning so had a midnight snack.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

If you like a little food with your frosting, these are your recipe.

Tons of soft and tendy gooey-ness in every bite, adorned with little nuggets of cinnamon-sugar streusel topping.

Cinnamon Bun Pie

Semi-related recipes in my archives include:

Raw Vegan Gluten Free Cheesecake

Raw Vegan Gluten Free Apple Crumble

Caramel Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars (GF with Vegan adaptation) – They have a great crumble topping

Caramel Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

Baked Cinnamon Bun Donuts with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

Baked Cinnamon Bun Donuts with Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze

Do you enjoy complex and multi-step recipes? If so, what do you make that’s fairly involved?

I am thrilled to be a part of Milk Bar Mondays.

I can say without a doubt that reading Christina’s recipes and book, reading about her approach to cooking, to baking, to recipe-development, and being a part of the Milk Bar Monday group has already, and will continue to, be a mind-expanding way to cook and grow, and I love that.

Or, do you prefer making things that are quicker, easier, less involved, and with less steps?

If my blog stats and page views are an indication, most of you prefer the easier and less involved recipes, based on which recipes get viewed most often. It’s the simplest things that people write in to tell me they loved and made, and make frequently.

I think we can all appreciate cooking as art, cooking as it’s own supreme craft, but unfortunately many of us don’t have the time (or desire) to cook like we’re on an episode of Top Chef or Cake Wars in our daily lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate it when others do it or do it for special occasions.

Plus, putting a few intricate recipes on your bucket-list of things to tackle one day in the future keeps the inspiration going.

The winner of the Nature Box Healthy Snacks Giveaway is Aimee @ ShugarySweets

Thanks for the Enjoy Life Plentils Chips Giveaway entries. Keep them coming!

See what the other Milk Bar Ladies created this week:

Audra from The Baker Chick

Cassie from Bake Your Day

Erin from Big Fat Baker (the original recipe for Cinnamon Bun Pie is on Erin’s site today)

Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker

Krissy from Krissy’s Creations

Meagan from Scarletta Bakes

Nicole from Sweet Peony

Follow the Milk Bar Monday ladies on Twitter

Have a great week!

About the Author

Welcome to AverieCooks! Here you’ll find fast and easy recipes that taste amazing and are geared for real life. Nothing fussy or complicated, just awesome tasting dishes everyone loves!

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Please note: I have only made the recipe as written, and cannot give advice or predict what will happen if you change something. If you have a question regarding changing, altering, or making substitutions to the recipe, please check out the FAQ page for more info.


  1. Hi I must say your recipes look terrific, good enough to print and eventually cook and hope they come out as beautiful as yours. Problem, no way to print as where it says print this I click and nothing happens it is not like other recipes where it takes me to another step and prints. I could hit print but I end up with 30 pages for a 1 page recipe, waste of paper waste of ink as the I print in black in white so not good and disappointing. I love the fact of the step by step and pictures as I love to see that process. Any suggestions?

    1. 95% of my recipes are printer-friendly. Recipes that are 4-5+ years old may or may not be. I suggest simply copying/pasting the recipe portion of the blog post into an email to yourself and printing. Super easy!

  2. Oh my goodness! You are right, it’s brown sugar!!LOL I am sooo sorry. I kept looking and I swear, they looked like 2 brown eggs. I cannot wait to make this! Thanks.

  3. In your ingredients pic you show 2 eggs in the bowl w.the topping, however, it is not mentioned in the list or the directions. I am thinking it goes in the cheesecake filling? Please let me know, as I would love to make it!

  4. Do you think you could make these the night before and bake them the next morning? I would love to take these to a breakfast party, but don’t want to get up super early! Thanks!

    1. They won’t be AS good if they’re not warm from the oven but still fine. You can just assemble it the night before, cover with plasticwrap, put in fridge, bake in the a.m.

  5. I forgot the flour in the toping :-(

    But mine see drowning in the cream cheese they are not fluffy and dry looking like your pics
    Everything else was right on I am lost

    1. Well unfortunately forgetting 1/3 cup flour in a recipe like this is a pretty big deal and that’s why they’re drowning. Without that flour to absorb the butter/cream cheese mixture, yes, they will be much more soupy. Next time if you add the flour, you won’t have that issue.

    1. No, it just saves on a ton of dishes/cleanup, since all the gooey stuff is contained neatly!

  6. oh wow! I love Milk Bar & Christina Tosi. Amazingness. I’ve made their Compost cookie (seriously yummy), and the Thai tea parfait is in the freezer, thai tea crunch too. Milk Bar Monday is such a good idea to kick start the week with awesome sweets!

    1. Well and this recipe uses a big shortcut so you can kickstart things in 30 mins and get your fix on! Not 10 hours later like most Tosi recipes :)

  7. This is definitely best when it’s been allowed to cool completely, so plan to make it several hours before you need it, or even the day before. This is clearly an indulgent dish, and made all my eaters very happy! Perfect to add to a holiday brunch, and it comes together so quickly.

    1. Glad you liked it! I like it just as well warm piping hot from the oven as I do cool – Very little can top a piping hot cinnamon roll for me, though!

  8. Mmmmmm, I love cinnamon buns, so I think I would really like this pie. I made a cinnamon bun cake once and it was fab!

  9. We made these tonight. And oh. mah. gawd. They were INSANE.

    I have no words…because my mouth is full of yummy…

    1. OMG THANK YOU!!!! For the field report, for making them, and glad you loved them. Were they not the best cinnamon rolls you’ve ever had AND the easiest? Seriously, it’s amazing what a little doctoring up can do, right? :)

  10. Welcome to the swap! What a fun adaptation of the recipe – they look so light and fluffy and chewy – yum!

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline, for inviting me. It’s truly going to be SUCH a labor of love cooking with this group :)

  11. Good Lord, Averie! Your version is so brilliant that I just had to comment. You are a genius! My thighs will hate you. Thank you!

  12. loving these milk bar monday posts! it is definietly my new fave cookbook and visiting Milk Bar is a must for me on every visit to NY! can’t wait to make cinnamon roll pie yum!

  13. Wow!!! These look so amazing! Sooo glad you made this recipe doable because complicated in my book is not doable. I love cinnamon rolls nd anything gooey! Another groovy winner!! :-)

    1. As a mom, I KNOW you understand that complicated is NOT happening. You cook amazing things for your kids but there are only so many hours in the day for any of us. Make these. They are so good (and easy!) if you’re kids need a special treat!

  14. Ok, I just commented on Cassie’s site about friggin amazing this looks and just have to say the same here. O-m-g I will pay you to send me some :)

    1. My version is the cheater’s method and I tell you girl, they are the best cinn rolls I have ever had and I am super picky about my sweets :) MAKE these!

  15. My mom used to make Pillsbury cinamon rolls all the time when I was a kid. This looks like an awesome way to jazz them up. Great idea for simplifying a complicated recipe!

  16. Oh my god, this looks so delicious. Definitely going to try this one. My work friends will die.

  17. I received this book for Christmas, but have yet to make anything from it. i really need to get on that, but it’s a little intimidating! My sister made the compost cookies for our mom’s birthday last week and they were nothing short of fabulous. I highly recommend!!

  18. I need to get this book. Another amazing recipe – what a fun twist on a cinnamon roll!

  19. I love drooling over the pictures of recipes that take a lot of time and effort, but I know that I’ll never actually make them. Heck, I’m so impatient I never roast veggies. They taste amazing roasted, but I’m far too impatient to wait that long! Steaming is fast and eating them raw is even faster. ;)

    1. thank god it was one of those glitches that “self-repaired”…love it when that happens!

  20. Oh, Averie! These things look SO incredibly yummy – I’m literally drooling!
    I’ve been hearing about this “Milk Bar Monday” and was so curious, now I know!! Glad you shared and look forward to next Monday!

    1. It’s every other Monday but I always have a “big” recipe on Monday’s so regardless of which Monday, you’re set (with sugar) on my site :)

    1. Thanks for the great recipe choice and glad you liked my adaptation. Life, child, everything…no way I could have made the mother dough and gotten the post ready in time and I wanted to! So thankfully adaptations are allowed :)

  21. So happy to have you with us, Averie! Your adaptation is perfect & an easy shortcut. I’m sorry I missed out this week, but I can’t wait to bake more MBM with you! :)

    1. Thanks, Nicole, and I am happy to be joining you ladies! Sorry you had to sit this one out but I understand we are all so busy!

  22. omg these look so good and SO easy! Hope you had a fabulous weekend. I just shot you an email!

  23. Sometimes I like a project; other times I want to be in and out of the kitchen in 10 minutes. These aren’t something I’d make for myself, but if someone made them FOR me, I’d be able to munch on one and remain blissfully ignorant about what went into them… ;)

  24. I requested this book from my library recently after hearing lots of good things about it. I can’t wait until I can pick it up! This recipe might just be the first thing I make, it looks fantastic :)

    1. You are going to LOVE it. Just buy it…seriously. 20 bucks well spent and I don’t say that about many cookbooks but this one…you will love it!

    1. I am so in love with her whole approach and mentality and recipes…it’s one of the best cookbooks I’ve bought…ever! :)

  25. This looks great! I love that you used the Pillsbury rolls. I sometimes enjoy making complicated recipes as it always feels rewarding when you are finally done, but I often don’t have the time or patience so I like shortcuts like this!

  26. Sometimes i think its best to make things totalllly from scratch. These rolls look so worth the time. Crumb topping really gets me too

  27. wow what a post! loved everyword, I can really see and hear your passion for creating, sharing, and growing in the kitchen. Well I stick to the very basics in my own kitchen. I occasionally attempt harder things, which can be fun but day to day I have time for 5-10 minute throw together meals, and I’m fine with that. ( I think you’re typically similar in that sense). But yes once in a while its fun to take on a big project and prove to yourself you can do it! Can’t wait to see in the coming weeks what you make out of the book, some of those sound like incredibly complicated and fun desserts.

    1. Yes it was quite a post. More words than I usually write but it was definitely fun to write about and I could have kept rambling. lol

  28. I can make some super complicated recipes – but simpler is really the smartest way to go in my book. Less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying the dish.

    1. Isn’t that the truth…more time enjoying it. Sometimes big meals take HOURS to make and 10 mins to eat. Not exactly always worth it IMO :)

    1. It’s one of the best cookbooks I’ve ever bought just based on all her insights…let alone the recipes!

  29. These look amazing. And, yes, while there is a time and place for making complicated, delicious food, I also believe that simple is often just as wonderful.

  30. Whoaaaa! This is so filled with awesomeness! I am a bit scared to try some of the recipes from that book, but they sound lovely. So glad you’ve joined the team!

  31. These look rich and heavenly, and I love the simplified recipe. I’ll make multi step recipes when I know I have the extra time (but there are always other things to do), so I love fast, easy, minimal mess type dishes so I can feel efficient. 15 min of prep time is right up my alley!

    1. Most people don’t even cook, let alone anything more than 15 mins or so of prep time, so when posting blog recipes, I try to keep things geared for the average person or working woman who doesn’t have time to make mother dough from scratch :)

  32. These look incredible! I’ve always had a thing for Pilsbury cinnamon rolls! My mom would make these almost every Saturday morning and I would wake up to the smell of sweet cinnamon filling the house.

    1. Girl these rolls when doctored up, too, you’d never guess they were “just” from a can. If you like them the way your mom made them, try these! I think you’ll be in heaven!

  33. Averie, these look dangerously insane. SO glad you provided a shortcut for this recipe. i need to stop drooling over your pictures and make my own…!

  34. I’m loving this milk bar monday series, I’m so excited to get a copy of the book. I’m not normally one for long recipes but it really looks the results are worth it!

    1. Well and these I adapted so they aren’t long and complicated and many of her recipes, you can eyeball them and pare them down as needed, as long as you are willing to get a little bit creative. I think you’d love the book.