Mid-Week Tangent: Cinnamon Bun Woes

Oh friends, you know that expression “fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me”? Well, shame on me this week. After my National Donut Day fail, I gave our local coffee shop another chance with it’s Sticky Bun Saturdays and I’m here to tell you that I am officially throwing in the towel on Ratio Coffee‘s pastries. It is a sad moment for me, partly because I was duped not once but twice, but also because I so badly wanted to have a local pastry hotspot. Alas, I will keep looking. In the meantime, join me in my cinnamon bun woes.

Okay it’s a terrible picture, I know, but it doesn’t even look promising.

Where: Ratio Coffee, Vernon BC

Price: about $4.50 for one “sticky” bun (i.e. pretty pricey)

The Low Down:  Okay, here’s the thing: the cardinal rule of a sticky bun is that if you want to call it a sticky bun, then it absolutely must be sticky. This is non-negotiable.  If you have a tiny ribbon of non-sticky cinnamon running through incredibly thick layers of dough, then call it a cinnamon ribbon bun and call it a day.  This is a cinnamon ribbon bun at best.

I know I sound critical, but cinnamon buns and sticky buns are a personal fave, and what makes them delicious is all that sticky goodness. My dream cinnamon bun is ultra moist, with thin layers of dough that are basically just a vehicle for masses of buttery cinnamon-sugar filling that oozes out both the top and bottom. And if you’re going to call something a sticky bun, that oozing-out-the-bottom factor is absolutely paramount.  Paramount.

This “sticky bun” only leaves up to half it’s name: bun. Oh there is dough, friends. There is so very much dough. To be honest, the dough is perfectly fine. It’s brioche like and quite tasty.  But no one, and I mean no one, buys a sticky bun for the dough. You buy it for the sticky filling. In this bun, there was none (rhyme unintended but delightful nonetheless). I wish I had taken a picture of the barely-there ribbon of cinnamon that ran through this bun. I mean, it was less visible than the streusel ribbon in a coffee cake. Unacceptable.

The saving grace for this bun was the frosting, which my partner loved with all his heart. I had a more measured reaction. It was good in that it was frosting, but it was by no means incredible frosting, and there was certainly not enough of it. That said, it was absolutely critical to balance out the sheer volume of dough in this bun. Without the frosting, I probably wouldn’t have eaten my half of the bun at all. That, in itself, is a sad testament to just how disappointing this bun was.

Here’s the long and short of it: I absolutely do not recommend this sticky bun, but if you choose not to heed my warning, at the very least make sure you pay for the frosting.


Mid-Week Tangent: epic cinnamon bun fail

I don’t talk about cinnamon buns often, but a well-crafted cinnamon bun, heavily laden with cream cheese frosting, is one of life’s great pleasures as far as I’m concerned. I rarely eat them these days. Over the years, I’ve developed a fairly discerning eye when it comes to cinnamon buns and I can usually spot a crappy or mediocre cinnamon bun a mile away. I don’t even bother. If it’s not going to be great, it’s not happening. As a result, I almost never eat them. It’s sad, isn’t it?

This weekend, as we were making our way through an impromptu self-guided wine tour around Kelowna and West Kelowna, we stopped in at Bliss Bakery, a bakery we’ve visited before and at which we’ve enjoyed a trail bar and a midnight mint brownie in the past. This time around, I spotted a treat that had eluded me at our last visit (i.e. they had run out): the “cinny bun” (their name, not my affectionate abbreviation, I assure you).

The Cinny Bun is a beast to behold, a positively enormous cinnamon bun (I’m talking 5 inches by 5 inches), with a heavy layer of frosting, and a truly impressive weight for a yeasted baked good (sadly, I didn’t think to weigh it on my kitchen scale until it was too late). The second I saw it, I knew I had to have it.

Or so I thought…

Onward we went with our day, visiting winery after winery, all the while I was dreaming of getting home and digging into that cinnamon bun. I even turned down appetizers and dessert at dinner because I wanted to leave room to devour that glorious combination of soft dough, swirls of cinnamon and globs of frosting (okay, globs was perhaps not the most appetizing word to have used there…). I’m not joking. This cinny bun occupied a lot of my thoughts throughout the afternoon and early evening.

And then, later that night, finally at home and settled on the couch, I brought out the Cinny Bun. As I went to tear off a piece, I experienced my first early warning signals: the dough felt dry. Very dry. Crumbly actually. I was willing to give it the benefit of the doubt, though.  I mean, I have so rarely been fooled by a cinnamon bun’s appearance.  Perhaps it was just the outer edge that was dry. After all, it had sat in the trunk all day (though in a sealed take out container). I took another bite. Ugh. Still DRY. I decided to dig deeper into the middle, but no matter how far into the center I got, it was still dry, dry, dry. And I’m talking bordering on baked-several-days-ago-stale dry.  Even where there was cinnamon swirl. Cinnamon swirl is a moist-maker! How could it still be dry?!?

The only, and I mean only, redeeming quality of the cinny bun was its frosting, which wasn’t even the best frosting, but at least provided a semblance of moisture to the very top of the bun. In fact, the frosting and cinny bun dough in direct contact with the frosting, was all that I ate. The rest of the cinnny bun went exactly where it belonged, in the trash, a sad reminder of five bucks wasted and the fact that looks can be deceiving, size doesn’t always matter, and even a solid layer of frosting can’t save a bad baked good.

Sorry, cinny bun, but you were not good. I’m reminded of that old expression: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. This was a big shame on me. I know better than this. I know that a truly fantastic cinnamon bun is few and far between. Next time I will be wiser.