I think we all have memories of cinnamon rolls, and probably none of us can really say we have bad memories of them. We often reminisce about the kitchens of our childhoods filled with the wonderful aroma of cinnamon and freshly baked bread. Whether it’s a Pillsbury cinnamon roll from a tube or hand-rolled in grandma’s kitchen, my guess is you’ve got a story to tell. Albeit, we can all agree on one thing,
there’s nothing better than a good old-fashioned, jumbo-sized, cinnamon roll, warm, soft and meltilicious straight from the oven. Cinnamon rolls are also known as cinnamon buns, cinnamon swirls, and cinnamon snails, but not to be confused with honey buns which are variations of the doughnut. A cinnamon roll consists of cinnamon and sugar sprinkled over a butter-coated sheet of yeast dough, then rolled, sliced, baked then coated with a glaze or frosting. It sounds simple, but since being introduced to the Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls stand, I realized just how complex a cinnamon roll can be.
So I got curious. I did some reading on these mysterious buns, and was a little surprised at what I found.
Cinnamon rolls actually originated in ancient times in Egypt, then rolled to Europe and around the world, filling our toasty kitchens with the aromas and taste of spicy cinnamon for centuries. And, for centuries, bakers have consistently worked to perfect this time-tested legend, boasting the best flour, butter, yeast, sugars , and of course, cinnamon to use in creating melt-in-your-mouth masterpieces. If you’re looking for a cinnamon roll recipe, you might be shocked to find thousands of variations on Google. I guarantee you’ll spend a lot more time looking through recipes than time to make them. Cinnamon rolls are quite literally as unique as the creativity of the individuals who bake them.
Established in 1978, family-owned Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls has rooted itself as an institution and tradition at California fairgrounds and venues for three generations. Today, Ryan and Willie Madaus along with their daughters, Jaecie, Abby and Lily, and sons, Noah and newest arrival, Adam continue the family tradition, bringing Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls to 15 venues. Adam went to his first fair at the San Diego County fair at one month old. We met Ryan, Willie and Adam at the California State Fair in Sacramento in July of this year, and had our first taste of their delicious cinnamon rolls. In fact, they’ve got four versions and we tried them all.
Nothing is more American than a county fair on Labor Day, second to Independence Day, and a fair experience really wouldn’t be an experience without a fresh, warm cinnamon roll. So, after a very long, seven-hour (did I mention it was Labor Day weekend?) drive to the Monterey County Fair, we had lunch at Big Bubba’s Bad BBQ, followed by a delicious dessert at Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls. We knew they’d be at the fair – they mentioned it when we met in July and we’ve been following them on facebook. So, we made a point to look for them in Monterey. Believe me, once you try one of these cinnamon rolls, you’ll want to know where you can get them again.
Thick, soft, moist, warm and literally melt in your mouth, these cinnamon rolls are a perfect balance of flour, butter, sugar and cinnamon. We’re talking about true feel-good food that’ll give you a warm, tingly feeling while you’re savoring every bite. Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls have an amazing tenderness and texture with just the right amount of a very high quality cinnamon. I’m not a huge fan of cinnamon, because it can sometimes be a little too overbearing, or leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But, I had no idea that there are as many options for cinnamon as their are for sugar, butter or anything else for that matter.
Cinnamon sticks are actually classified into grades, depending on the thickness, weight and variation. The best cinnamon seems to come from Indonesia, and the size ranges from the size of a pencil to the size of a baseball bat. Indonesian cinnamon is “Cassia cinnamon” and known for superior quality, but the true cinnamon is apparently the “Ceylon cinnamon.” Regardless, the general consensus seems to be that Cassia cinnamon is the preferred cinnamon for cinnamon rolls. Whatever Ryan and Willie are using in their cinnamon rolls, I’m guessing it’s some kind of high grade Cassia cinnamon brought in from some remote region of Indonesia. Or maybe they get it at CostCO. There’s no argument, Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls makes absolutely the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted, and I hope that the next time I drive seven hours anywhere, I’ll find them at my destination. Because, that 2 1/2 -inch thick, warm, smooth, sweet cinnamon roll, smothered in a sweet home-made cream cheese frosting made the trip well worth the effort.
October 4 is Cinnamon Bun Day (or kanelbullens dag) in Sweden, and probably a big day around the Madaus household, as well. The Swedish take credit for introducing the cinnamon roll as we know it today, and have been celebrating Cinnamon Bun Day since 1999, bringing in the autumn harvest with a festive baking theme. Celebrate your Oktoberfest and kanelbullens dag with a cinnamon roll and a coffee drink from Country Fair Cinnamon Rolls, and be sure to say hello to Ryan and Willie for us.