Born again sticky bun lover

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Sticky buns, where have you been all my life?

My first real job as a teen—first to pay me an actual check and not  involve tutoring church kids or reading mail to the legally blind old woman who lived next door—was as a cashier at a Panera rip-off in Miami.

As would become the pattern of my work life, I hated it. The ugly khakis I had to wear, upselling bread bowls, even the fact that my sister worked there, too. I hated all of it.

All of it except one thing. Even more so than my meager paychecks, the one redeeming perk of the gig were the pastries I rescued at the end of each shift. Muffins, cookies, croissants, cinnamon rolls, danishes—they were all up for grabs at the end of the night and I rarely left without a bag. (Shout out to the thousands of calories consumed without so much as thinking of working out. Ah, youth!)

There was one thing, however, that never appealed to me: sticky buns. All that shiny, sticky gunk reminded me of the rubber cement I’d used as a kid, each bun a tacky tar trap of molasses. And those nuts, stuck in the gluey goo? A warning to my teeth.

Maybe it was all those neglected sticky buns I left to be tossed, all those passed over pastries, that subconsciously drew me to the sticky bun at Little King’s coffee window a few weeks ago. Maybe it was divine intervention.

Normally a cocktail bar with a small menu, Little King recently opened a walk-up window, selling Intelligentsia coffee and Roberta’s pastries to L train-bound locals weekday mornings. Glad to have an option that wasn’t Dunkin or bodega brew, I stopped for a coffee one day, and on a complete whim, a sticky bun to go with it.

Palm sized and more popover shaped than the swirled rolls I was used to, these sticky buns from the hipster mecca Roberta’s, were airy and fluffy, all buttery brioche under their salt-flecked, caramel glaze.

I am addicted. I’ll drive myself into financial ruin buying these every morning. Sometimes, I wake up and count back to when I last had one, trying to justify if it’s been enough days to treat myself to another one. If I have a run planned later, I’ll grab one and chalk it up to carbo loading. I daydream of that soft dough and buttery, salted caramel.

I would say I’m sorry to all those sticky buns of my youth, the ones that got away and got chucked, but I’m pretty sure they were nothing like these doughy, sweet buns I now constantly crave. I can’t imagine there are any left over each day, but if by chance there are, I hope whoever’s in charge of clearing them away knows how very lucky they are.

 

The magic of hype

Dominique Ansel's Magic Souffle

Dominique Ansel’s Magic Souffle

The moment I read that Dominique Ansel, the evil genius behind the now infamous Cronut, had come up with something new called the Magic Soufflé, I immediately got to plotting when and how I’d get my hands on one.

When Cronuts first came out, I didn’t want to believe all the hype, but as soon as I had one I fell under their spell just as fast and hard as all the other Cronut zombies out there. (And let me tell you, New York is crawling with these pastry loving fiends. They will shank you if they think you have a Cronut, so watch yourself.) Suspecting we might have another pastry craze on our hands with the Magic Soufflé I wanted to cast my vote early, before things got crazy.

Earlier this week, I moseyed over to Dominique Ansel Bakery, making sure to get there before noon (because they’re apparently already gone by then), and ordered a Magic Soufflé. Inside a cute little red and white striped open box, reminiscent of an old school popcorn box, was the rectangular Magic Soufflé, golden brown with a white star of powdered sugar on top. But even better than the pretty packaging was the fresh-out-of-the-oven smell of warm pastry dough, sugar and chocolate wafting out.

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Mmmmmm warm chocolate souffle.

The Magic Soufflé’s outer layer is a buttery, golden, orange blossom brioche, brushed with Grand Marnier caramel, but the real magic, the chocolate soufflé part, is inside, warm and soft and almost melty at its core.

So what do I think? It was pretty good, but not magical good, and certainly not $7 good. Even the Cronut doesn’t cost that much and it’s waaay better.  I guess I’ve just never been one for magic.

Pastelito pit-stop

So. Many. CHOICES.

While New York is far from lacking in places to get baked sweets—what with cupcake shops, bakeries, patisseries and all other manner of baked-good providers available everywhere—if there’s one thing I miss about Miami, it’s the ready availability of Cuban bakeries.

I miss pastelitos, dammit.

Growing up in Miami, these pastries were always around, whether you were Cuban or not. During high school my sister even worked at a Cuban bakery called La Rosa, where the uniform was a terrible, oversized magenta smock that I loved to make fun of her for. But if she came home with a box of pastelitos? Well, then my tune changed to a little butt kissing.

During my latest stay in Miami, the last thing I did before leaving the city was making one last stop at La Rosa to pick up some of my favorites. Continue reading

Breakfast buns

Decisions, decisions...

I’ve been cutting through Chinatown to get to work in the morning the past few days. Sometimes, when I find myself stuck in a sea of 3-foot-tall, ancient looking Chinese women, my New-Yorker-in-a-hurry powerwalk slowed to a near stop, I curse under my breath. “[Expletive]! This was a terrible idea. I’m never gonna get there in time. Am I the only one trying to get somewhere right now? Ugh.”

Today was different though. For one thing, I left 10 minutes earlier. But it wasn’t because I was factoring in the time it would take to elbow my way through the clogged sidewalks. No, I left earlier because I was making a stop along the way. A breakfast stop at a Chinatown bakery. Continue reading