Cinnamon buns are a favourite treat for many Reginans and they certainly are at my household. They are ooey-gooey, sweet and delicious, warming you up from the inside and filling the room with their incredible aroma. They are often tied to feelings of nostalgia, like a Sunday afternoon at your grandma’s house. In short, they are comfort food.
When COVID lockdown began back in March, I tried my hand and making my own cinnamon buns. It is hard. The challenges are many: making a nice dough and ensuring it rises properly; striking the right balance of butter, sugar and cinnamon for the filling; timing the bake to ensure caramelization and “goo” formation as well as a nice crust on your bread…
Making cinnamon buns is as much an art as it is a science. And each time I made a batch, they came out differently. They were just okay, not as good as what the pros make. So when I went out to taste, compare and rank Regina’s best cinnamon buns, I had an enhanced appreciation for each bakery’s technique and execution.
1. Green Spot – The people’s champ
There are two reasons why Green Spot wins ‘Best Cinnamon Bun’ in the Prairie Dog reader poll every year: elite goo and unparalleled consistency. They come out a beautiful golden brown every time and the goo is buttery and plentiful, running through the middle and down the sides. These are the best cinnamon buns in the city.
2. Brewed Awakening – Beautifully soft bread
Brewed Awakening makes a delicious bun and whereas Green Spot’s bun feels almost like a pastry (think buttery croissant), Brewed’s is arguably perfect bread: soft and airy, tender and fresh. The goo is a nice caramel sauce, but it’s not baked that way, it’s added on afterward. There is a nice presence of dark cinnamon filling as well.
3. Naked Bean – Standing tall in the crowd
If Brewed Awakening’s cinnamon bun has the best quality bread, Naked Bean’s is a close second. And its goo is nearly as good as Green Spot’s, with a touch of vanilla to it. It’s a tall bun with dark cinnamon through the middle, and my only knock on it would be: I wish it had more goo distributed down the sides and middle.
4. Everyday Kitchen – Cream cheese icing sets it apart
Everyday Kitchen is best known for its sourdough donuts but they make a mean cinnamon bun every Monday. Distinguished by delicious cream cheese icing, it doesn’t have the goo “wow factor” of its rivals, but with plenty of cinnamon and excellent bread (although a touch light in colour), it charts its own path. Great value as well – these were the only buns under $4 apiece.
5. Tangerine – Classic execution
I love Tangerine as a bakeshop and café in general. Everything they make here is delicious and their cinnamon bun is no exception. It has tender and moist bread, a nice balance of cinnamon and sugar through the middle and at both ends, and served upright (all others are served upside-down) with a sticky-toffee-like glaze with a hint of vanilla. My bun had a minor underbake/doughy issue on my taste test though.
- Fresh & Sweet – Served with cream cheese icing on the side, this cinnamon bun is crispy and pastry-like instead of being soft and bready. Its goo is more like a hard toffee than a runny caramel, but it has a nice layer of cinnamon and sugar through the middle. Unfortunately, belying its brand, it didn’t feel as fresh as the others.
- Nicky’s Café – I’m a Nicky’s breakfast fan and often buy a cinnamon bun at the till when I pay the bill. It’s a tall bun with nice bread and a wonderful, baked-on, golden goo. I wish it had more goo however, and on my recent visits, the buns have been “refrigerator cool,” indicating they were likely baked the night before.
By Allan Pulga:
Allan Pulga is Regina-based PR and communications consultant with a healthy appetite – for food and sneakers. He writes the monthly “Regina Bites” food column for CBC Saskatchewan. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @poonisms.