Chai Cinnamon Bun for a Peak-Millennial Snack to Pair with Your Third-Wave Coffee

March 5, 2018

Chai tea has become a common offering in the ever-growing cafés, both commercial and third-wave, across Manila. From the almost-staple chai tea latte to more inventive concoctions like the dirty chai or the chai chocolate, drinkers are suckers for the spice-rich drink. We decided to infuse the most standout spice flavors of the chai with another coffee shop ubiquity: the cinnamon bun.

Peek your pre-glazed cinnamon buns to smell the thick scent of clove and cinnamon wafting from their swirls.

TBH, we may have provided a recipe that leaves us with excess frosting because can we ever really have too much cream cheese frosting?

Don’t be daunted by the total time it takes to make this dish—the steps are simple, and the recipe time is mostly a waiting game (and you could easily use that waiting time to catch up on your TV shows). You can pick up chai tea concentrate online from Jacob’s Well or pick some up at SnR. If you have some chai tea bags lying around though, you could also steep that in 3 tbsp. of water for about 8 minutes for a similar result. The final sticky sweet mess is your next chai fix in snack form, and will make you hope that this chai-infused pastry becomes the next café staple.

Chai Cinnamon Bun

  • Serves: 1 dozen
  • Active time: 1 hr
  • Total time: 4.5 hrs
  • Difficulty: Medium
  • Special tools: Stand-mixer



  • 1 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 ½ cup flours, divided
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 ¼ tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt


  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. cloves
  • ¼ cup butter, softened


  • 8 oz (1 block) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp clove
  • 3 tbsp. chai tea concentrate


  1. To make the dough, combine milk and butter and heat in microwave until just warmed through. Place milk and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and add 1 cup of flour, sugar, egg, yeast, and salt. Mix until combined.
  2. Add the remaining flour and beat on medium speed until well combined and all the flour is absorbed. The dough should be soft and smooth and pull away from the sides of the bowl.
  3. Remove dough from the bowl and transfer into a separate oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and leave for 2 hours at room temperature. Dough should proof to about double its size.
  4. While the dough is rising, make the filling. To make chai spiced filling, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves and softened butter in a bowl. Set aside.
  5. Prepare and oil a large baking sheet. When the dough is proofed, turn out onto a floured surface and roll into a large rectangle, about 18×12 inches. Spread the filling evenly all over the dough, leaving a ½ inch border on the top of the dough.
  6. Carefully roll the dough into a log, pushing up slowly, and ending with the seam down. Cut the log into 12 equal pieces, about 1.5 inches thick each. Place each cinnamon roll cut side up onto the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for an hour or until rolls are doubled in size.
  8. Preheat oven to 350F. Place the proofed rolls in the oven and bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  9. While rolls are cooling, prepare the frosting. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, butter, cinnamon, clove, and chai tea concentrate in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until light and combined, about 5 minutes. Cover the rolls in frosting and serve.
Bea Osmeña SEE AUTHOR Bea Osmeña

Bea Osmeña is a healthy-ish eater who is just as likely to take you to a vegan joint as she is to consume a whole cheese pie to herself. A former picky eater, Bea has discovered the joys of savory fruit dishes, but still refuses to accept pineapples on her pizza. On the rare occasion you catch her without food in her mouth, you are likely to find her looking at books she can't afford, hugging trees, or talking to strange animals on the street.

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