I started National Sticky Bun Day off with some bad news. We were out of milk. I knew this going to bed. I just didn’t feel like going to the store the night before (and I was mad at myself for forgetting to pick some up earlier in the day when I was actually at the store). I knew we had enough for one cup of coffee so Lola would not be left out in the cold. She usually wakes up first and getting that first cup in her is essential. I knew going to bed that I would just go out first thing and pick up a half gallon from Cumberland Farms to get us through. No big deal, I just forgot about it overnight. Then when I opened the fridge in the morning, I remembered.
I threw on a baseball hat and hopped in the car. Cumby’s is right up the hill from us so it’s never a big deal. I went inside, grabbed the milk and headed towards the check out counter. That’s when I remembered it was Sticky Bun Day. I took a short detour over to their pastry case just to check out what was there. You never know what Cumby’s has in store for you. There, on the top row, carefully displayed on a parchment paper lined tray, was what I was looking for. I grabbed two, put them in a box and made my purchase. I was home minutes later and the water for my coffee was on the stove. When the coffee was ready, I grabbed my goods and walked into my office as is my usual routine, although this time I had some sweet baked goods with me.
For a gas station convenience store, Cumberland Farms makes some pretty good pastries. It was fresh, with lots of cinnamon which gave it that warming taste. The inside was moist and they don’t skimp on the glaze. In fact, that’s a trademark of all Cumby’s baked goods – cover it in glaze. You can’t go wrong. It was tasty, and another pleasant surprise that came fresh from the Farm. I enjoyed my coffee, my sweet treat and that’s how I celebrated Sticky Bun Day.
But wait! That’s a cinnamon roll!?!
Is a cinnamon roll a sticky bun? I don’t know to the answer to that. This was sticky for sure. It was a bun too, so I guess on the surface level it qualifies. But what’s the difference?
The internet told me that the key difference is found in the sticky part. A true sticky bun is cooked in a pan which is coated in sticky ingredients (like honey or syrup) as well as some chopped nuts or other ingredients. The rolls are cooked right in that goop and when they are done, the pan is inverted so your finished buns have the sticky stuff on top. These types of buns have been around since the 1500s and find their origins in Germany. They migrated to the States through the Pennsylvania Dutch who brought many of their German delicacies along with them to the New World. A cinnamon bun, probably more famous thanks to the creation of the Cinnabon franchise, is a cousin to the sticky bun. The bun is made in the same fashion, but the topping is either an icing, a frosting or a glaze. It’s not as sticky, but still as tasty. Next time you are in an airport sitting next to someone enjoying a nice big Cinnabon, you can approach them and share this knowledge with them. Everyone loves talking to strangers when they are eating a giant cinnamon roll.
Well this was a dilemma. Did my feasting on a cinnamon roll count for my sticky bun celebration? It was kind of filling, so going out and finding a sticky bun wasn’t a priority for me. Plus it was hard to find a bakery online that said they specifically sold sticky buns. I was going to call around, but that was a phone conversation that didn’t play well in my head as I acted it out:
Me: Hi there, do you have sticky buns? hehehehe
Bakery: Excuse me?
Nope, not an easy call to make. I’m too immature for this quest at times. Nonetheless, I was agonizing over this dilemma all afternoon. I found a bakery in Providence, The Seven Stars Bakery, which is kind of famous for their sticky buns (they are kind of a famous Providence bakery in general), but going to Providence was a little bit out of the way for me. I found some good bakeries in the area, but none specifically said anything about their sticky buns. I had come to terms with letting my cinnamon roll be my sticky bun celebration for the day, although I felt I had let the team down. As a last ditch effort, I scanned the internet for recipes. I wasn’t much into making my own dough, but maybe I could find something easy enough. The first recipe that came up was from a website called The Spruce and the first line of the recipe said that you start by buying crescent rolls. I was now interested. The rest of the recipe looked super easy. I realized that I could make this. I got up and made my daily trek to Clements Market.
This recipe was about as easy as any recipe I have used. I did make one slight change to it however. After looking at a few other recipes for sticky buns, I noticed they use a filling of cinnamon and sugar inside the dough. This recipe just had you use the whole roll of crescent dough, no filling inside. I decided to add some, so I carefully unfurled the dough into one flat sheet, I liberally sprinkled a cinnamon and sugar mixture on the inside, then rolled it back up. From there, I proceeded to follow the recipe. I melted the butter in the oven with the nuts in the pan. I added brown sugar and maple syrup to that. I cut the roll of dough into eight pieces and then dunked each piece into some more sugar and cinnamon. Then I arranged each piece of dough into the pan on top of the sticky mixture. It baked for about 18 minutes. When it came out, I let it rest for a minute, then I inverted it onto a plate so the buns were topped with all the sticky stuff that was on the bottom.
When they were halfway done cooking, Lola shouted out randomly, “Whatever you’re cooking smells awesome!” She’ll do that from time to time. It was late in the day and we were both probably a bit hungry, so warm cinnamon in the air will make you start salivating. When it was time to flip the pan, I had Lola come over to help me film it (the filming didn’t go so great), but she was right there for the first sight of the sticky topped buns. Oh wow. Did they look good. I put one on a plate for Lola so she could taste it fresh from the oven. She was in heaven. Her eyes closed in ecstasy as she savored every bite. The roll was fresh and moist with a slight crispiness to it as well. But the star was the sticky part which was pretty much a candied combo of sweetness with a layer of pecans. These were top notch and as a testament to that, Lola had a second one. A success, and definitely a sticky bun celebration.
That was a day filled with some big ups and downs. A tumultuous National Sticky Bun Day. It started with no milk, got better with a cinnamon roll, started darkening when I realized I ate the wrong thing and then rose to greatness with a great new recipe. What a rollercoaster. I guess that’s the mysterious allure of the sticky bun: the seductress of the pastry case. Another great lesson on this quest. To never give up. The answer is always right in front of you, and it could just make for a tasty ending. So if you ever pick up the phone and someone on the other end asks you if you have sticky buns, you can proudly answer. There’s no shame in sticky buns. Only deliciousness.
Next Up: National Margarita Day