Food & Drink

Contemplating the Power of Pastry on Cinnamon Bun Day

Before moving to Copenhagen for the first time in 2008, cinnamon buns were just something that people in Philadelphia ate for breakfast (I’m from the US). I’d never had a particularly good bun and, with treats available to me like croissants, cake and doughnuts, I didn’t see the need to add yet another sugary pastry to my long list of items I crave with a cup of coffee around 4 pm.

But then Denmark happened and my view of baked goods took a dramatic left turn. Some might argue a turn for the worse because, you know, health. I’m a strong believer in moderation, however, so I regret nothing.

Cinnamon buns originated in Sweden. It’s no surprise, then, that it’s this country that enjoys a reputation for producing the best in the world. Though I spend the majority of my time in Denmark, I hold with global opinion on this one. The hint of cardamom, the light buttery layers, the crunch of the sugar crystals. Who among you can honestly say you’re not salivating right now? The Swedish got it right.

A kanelbulle with a cup of coffee is about as good as it gets on a cold winter’s day in Stockholm. The tradition of the fika isn’t just for fun; it’s a survival tactic. And the Danish iterations of the snack; the kanelsnurre or kanelsnegle (to say nothing of the enormous Onsdag snegle), bring comparable levels of hygge to the dark days of my annual post-Christmas slump.

So when I moved from Copenhagen to London in autumn 2009, my heart grew about three sizes when I found Nordic Bakery. I was walking through Golden Square, from my former boss’s office to the Piccadilly Circus tube station. It was the smell of cinnamon first (of course it was), then the giant glass window, the wood interior. It looked strangely out of place among the grey streets and stone buildings; an oasis.

I ordered my first cinnamon bun and coffee on that October afternoon and sat reading a recently purchased Grazia (when indulging a guilty pleasure, go all out), very pleased with the world. I didn’t yet have an apartment, my first real paycheck was nearly a month away and I’d discovered that morning that my coat wasn’t waterproof. True, that cinnamon bun didn’t change much except for warming my stomach and holding me over until dinner but it gave me a moment of reflection, of peace, of optimism.

That’s the power of a really good cinnamon bun; it’s perhaps not the bun itself but the time you take to enjoy it. Everyone deserves that moment. I’ve since moved back to Copenhagen but visit London often and one of my first stops, after picking up my Grazia, is Nordic Bakery. One whiff and I’m right back to that crisp fall day, the world swirling in my coffee cup.

Happy Cinnamon Bun Day, everybody!

This article is reposted from its original publication on the Nordic Bakery Blog. Thanks to Nordic Bakery for having us guest-blog!