Once upon a time there was a fast-food restaurant near our house called Grandy’s. It was a minute drive away where we pilgrimage twice a week for our holy meals. To my best recall, my orders consisted of Chicken Sandwich, Porridge and Coke from their endless soda fountain of free refills. The Chicken Sandwich was so meaty I believe it's a whole chunk of real chicken meat, nicely coated with breadcrumbs in between two simply tasty buns. The Porridge, let me tell y’all, came with a buffet bar of toppings with the likes of fried anchovies, sliced scallions, fried shallots, chopped golden deep-fried garlic, etc.
But nothing can ever, EVER! beat their most heavenly item on the menu, the oh sooo sinful… Sinnamon Roll. It was lusciously fluffy, with nuts and raisins peeping out in between the spiral, as sugar glaze carelessly tops over golden-crusted gorgeous ball of goodness. As I bite into it, my teeth will first crack the frosted glaze followed by a spongy resistant of the fluffiness, yet delicate as it tears. The dough was creamy as it melts on my tongue, bursting of flavors sweet, nutty crunch and a little hint of sour from the raisins. Smell of cinnamon lingers in the olfactory well after my portion eaten, reminding me of that pleasurable consumption. It was my first introduction and hitherto, the best cinnamon roll I ever tasted.
It has been 2 decades since Grandy’s departure, and no other rolls have yet to replace Sinnamon Roll (SR). It is a class of its own and no others come near. I’ve yet to sample the celebrated Sticky Buns from Flour Bakery, as to do so requires some serious flying from Malaysia to Boston, USA. I have to work within my limits; I’m going to bake one that best replicates Grandy’s SR. And my first attempt was a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, Limited Edition: Prizewinning Recipes.
As I steadily fumbled my way with focused effort, I pray and pray as I bake that it will turn out nothing in the likes of Cinnabon (I have nothing against them, Grandy’s and I just click). Coming out from the oven, they looked promising. As I serve the rolls to my hungry nieces and nephew, whom have been lured into the kitchen by the smell of cinnamon baking in the oven that had pervaded the entire house, I anticipated eagerly on their expressions and critiques and… they unanimously loved it. Songs of praises singing in my ears.
Then I took that first bite. At the same time thoughts in my head and the dreaded comment were verbalized… “It tastes just like Cinnabon only a lot better!” Oh gosh. I mean, they loved it and it's a good thing, the recipe works. But Cinnabon?
There are differences between SR and Cinnabon. The latter’s dough isn’t as fluffy but more compact with slight rubbery crust. The fillings weren’t memorable. I was not as happy, and I will not give up. This failure to achieve the desired texture leads me to dig deeper into types of available bread dough. So I searched and found that brioche is actually the right dough to recreate SR. Since the previous attempt was delicious for others, I took the best part of it, the filling (it was quite similar and lovely) and incorporated into my brioche. This is also a reminder that a mistake is an opportunity to excel. I had Nick Malgieri’s Bake! at hand. With his brioche formula and previous recipe filling of raisin, pecan and brown sugar, I rolled out my mission for the second time.
And here’s what happened. I ran out raisins, never mind, replace with dark chocolate chips. Will it be too sweet? Oh, let’s leave out the sugar glaze then. Well how did it turn out? Hmm… According to my 16-year-old niece, it’s more delicious the day after. Straight off the oven, she thought the absence of raisins didn’t counter the sweets, plus the chocolate chips made it too heavy. The next day she said she changed her mind and likes it the way it is.
Ok, but what about the bread texture, after all that is the goal? To everyone’s consensus it was the right dough, not perfect, but the correct foundation. I think I got it right to 70%. The texture and fluff is nearly there, needs more creaminess, and I suspect Middle-Class brioche will speed me off to that 90% mark. If I remember to stock raisins and add in the glaze, I might just make it to 95%. Then, God help me, may the allusion of Grandy’s Sin be among us sinners.