The Sticky Bun Discourse

Sticky buns. Cinnamon rolls. Honey buns.

Aren’t they all just variations of a cinnamon-y sugary bready deliciousness? Trying to get answers to why each is called what it is & where each originates was a little trying. Poring over google searches left me with a urgent need to scoff one of these enigmatic bakes.

I devoured cinnamon rolls with great gusto when I lived in Texas in the 80s- thickly frosted soft fluffy cinnamon bread rolls; the kind that made one’s teeth ache from first bite. Having youth & a sweet tooth on my side, this wasn’t a deterrent at all.

Sticky buns I encountered in the late 90s when I read Jostein Gaardner’s The Solitaire Mystery. More engrossing than the story of Hans-Thomas & his father driving through Europe looking for a lost mother, more than the philosophical considerations, more than the fantastical, magical tiny book hidden in a sticky bun, was The Sticky Bun itself.

What was a sticky bun? Was it anything like a cinnamon bun? How on earth were they able to read a book covered in sticky syrup? were the kind of thoughts that rattled at the back of my mind as I read.

At least one other person was consumed by these sorts of questions as I found this post written in 2016 – “Eating My Words: The Solitaire Mystery Sticky Bun”. Bea Pantoja‘s proposal was that The Sticky Bun referred to in the book was in fact a Norwegian bolle. I have asked my Swedish friend about this and she says they are called bulle in Sweden, pulla in Finland. Much more plausible since these particular buns are not drizzled in caramel or honey or slathered in frosting. Another interesting difference is that they are all spiced with cardamom instead of cinnamon.

I finally had my first sticky Sticky Bun in the early 2000s at a local bakery Simply Bread. We have eaten quite a few through the years.

Ruminations on this business began last week when Loving Husband spied a tray of cinnamon rolls on My Christmas Inn. He said he needed to have a Sticky Bun. “Why not a cinnamon roll?” was the question asked. But it brooked no logical response, so a Sticky Bun recipe was called up and a batch made.

From King Arthur Flour: one of my favourite places to visit for recipes.

For my own purposes, I will differentiate them thus: they all start with a coiled cinnamon-filled bread roll (and now I am beginning to think of babkas & cinnamon bread loaves!). Sticky buns will be baked with a caramel glaze & nuts at the bottom of the pan. Honey buns will be baked with honey & nuts at the bottom of the pan. Cinnamon rolls or buns will have a white frosting drizzled on top..

There is also a functional differentiation in my household: all four of us love cinnamon rolls, but Older Daughter will not eat Sticky Buns. I have never made Honey Buns, but I assume she will not eat them as well as they are also texturally sticky.

Which will you make today: a sticky bun? cinnamon roll? honey bun?

27 Replies to “The Sticky Bun Discourse”

    1. I love the range of scone variations available now – you are the Queen of Savoury Scones! I’m afraid my family only allows 2 kinds of scones to be baked regularly – plain scones and cheddar & chive. So all else I enjoy vicariously!

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      1. I’m pretty traditional with scones though I might play a bit with the type of cheese and add herbs. I am. Instantly amazed by the flavours and ingredients I see in scone recipes. Many seem more life free form muffins and kind of miss the point of scones as a quick, cheap food.

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        1. I hear you – lots of barriers being broken these days in the food arena. I just heard a discussion on a podcast about pies, tarts & galettes … the pie lady basically said if it has a crust & a filling, she would consider it a pie.

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