Rosen's Cinnamon Buns
Rosen's Cinnamon Buns has a simple mission: to perfect the humble cinnamon bun. That's pretty darn near all they serve here, along with Ezra's Pound coffee and Honest Leaf tea (both Toronto businesses, both $2.50 a cup), but while I stand in the little white bakery, a steady stream of bun enthusiasts flows in and out.
These buns come from the mind of food writer Amy Rosen, who has long worked for such publications as En Route, the Globe and Mail, Chatelaine and House and Home. After years of travelling for work she desired a foodie career that wouldn't take her away from home so much, and noticed on a Christmas holiday that family members young and old quieted down to munch on her cinnamon buns.
All Rosen's buns are natural and handmade, but other than that she spent months testing the perfect recipe, taking into account opinions from as many tasters as possible. The result is a brioche dough bun with a gooey, liquidy centre that crusts on the bottom of the bun, topped with a glaze that isn't too overpowering.
Rosen uses Harmony organic milk and free run eggs. The buns go for $4, or $20 for a half dozen. There's also bread pudding ($10), but it's constantly selling out.
It all starts with an old enamel pot from home in the back of the kitchen that's totally open for all to see. Milk and butter are heated up in there, then poured in a mixer where yeast with a little sugar activates the dough. Secret spices, salt, flour and eggs are incorporated and the dough is kneaded for eight minutes. After that, it has to proof for an hour.
Then the dough is rolled out into a rectangle and starts to really become a cinnamon bun, spread with a butter, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar goop and rolled into logs. They freeze some logs when they can, a good way of not letting the yeast overproof, which would make for a drier bun.
The logs are cut into more familiar bun segments and proofed again in a larger proofing machine, described to me as kind of an incubator for cinnamon buns. For final steps, the buns get an egg wash before going into the oven, and once they've come out and cooled the airy dough is draped in a three-ingredient glaze.
To find this place look closely - the sign above the window still advertises the hair salon that used to reside in the same spot, which both serves as a shout out to the history of the neighbourhood, and makes this place a little mysterious with only white lettering in the window. There's a bar with no seating, and an art piece featuring Barbra Streisand with cinnamon buns for hair.
Photos by Hector Vasquez