Inside the Cinnabon kitchen, the smell of sugary sweet cinnamon wafting in the air along with freshly baked hot rolls was intoxicating. "Open oven!" one of the bakers would announce loudly every so often, before she pops in a new tray of rolls to bake, or takes another one out to transfer to the display counter. The baking energy was exciting and dynamic, and perhaps it's from a day-long sugar high of being up close with all these sweet ingredients that keeps smiles on everyone's faces that day.
And that cinnamony, sugary magic is not just inside the Cinnabon kitchen where passers-by can take a peek into the rolling and baking action. Step inside a mall which houses an outlet and most likely even from a good walk away, the familiar mouthwatering scent of cinnamon rolls in the oven will tell you that yes, there is a Cinnabon near you. Just like pan de sal bakeries, their scent lures and sells. and for Cinnabon, their sweet rolls never fail to delight cinnamon lovers since it opened in Manila in 1999.
In an exclusive baking session at The Podium branch courtesy of Cinnabon Philippines, I was able to create my ultimate favorite from Cinnabon since the early 2000s: the Cinnabon Classic (P95/piece, P330/pack of 4, P65/Minibon).
If you've ever tried Cinnabon, it's obviously this classic order of cinnamon roll that you are most familiar with. I've forgotten how many times I've enjoyed one growing up, with a branch nearby my school (Robinsons Galleria) and another one near our home (Greenhills). Cinnabon Classic lets you sink your teeth into tender bread that meets a sticky and sweet cinnamon filling, finishing off with a smooth and lightly tangy cream cheese frosting. In one oversized cinnamon roll, you have yourself a hefty dessert of 720 Calories best chased with a hot cup of coffee, or best shared with a companion if you want to share the sweetness (and calories, too, because you can be generous like that).
To prepare 6 pieces of Cinnabon Classic before popping it in the oven, it should take the in-store bakers no more than 7 minutes to flatten and shape the yeast dough, slather margarine and their trademark Makara Cinnamon sugar mix, and expertly roll the treats. Being a first-timer cinnamon roll baker, it took me a little longer, of course, as I was assisted in every step and I had a lot of questions for every procedure.
We all know how Cinnabon's cinnamon rolls, in their many permutations and flavors (there are rolls with chocolate, and rolls studded with pecan, and limited edition flavors), are sweet indulgences in every bite -- life needs frosting once in a while, and some feel good treats can taste so delicious that it can almost be as comforting as a warm hug during a long and dreary day. So here are some trivia I learned about the Cinnabon Classic by being inside Cinnabon's kitchen -- to educate and entertain all you sweet toothed foodies. And also in case any Cinnabon fans want to attempt to recreate these rolls at home, as there are countless Cinnabon recipe hacks found online (Cinnabon's secret ingredients and detailed dough making process are not divulged, though, so good luck hacking!).
1. The Ruler, Rolling Pin, and Weighing Scale are three essentials to prepare the rolls. Rolling Pin shapes and flattens the dough into a rectangle, which you measure with the ruler; you also use the ruler for precise cuts of the rolls. The weighing scale is used for the ingredient that makes all Cinnabon rolls legendary: the Makara® Cinnamon.
2. Makara® Cinnamon is used in all of Cinnabon's rolls and it is a trademark blend of cinnamon, our local Muscovado sugar, and other top secret ingredients that give Cinnabon's rolls their distinct sweet and cinnamon-y flavors that are irresistibly good especially when served freshly baked or warmed. Cinnabon sought for high quality cinnamon to use for their Makara® Cinnamon -- and there are many kinds of cinnamon spice and the flavors vary -- making the cinnamon rolls you get from their store extra special. For a Cinnabon Classic of six pieces, you use 6 ounces of this ingredient.
3. Dough Sheeter is the machine used to flatten the dough to a precise thickness, and the Cinnabon Classic uses two settings (9 millimeters and 4 millimeters), as the sheet is passed through twice into the machine--the longer side first, then the shorter side next. The dough is then measured and shaped into a 14 x 20 rectangle before slathering 4 ounces of vegetable margarine and adding 6 ounces of Makara® Cinnamon.
4. "Lift, Tap, and Roll" is the technique used in rolling the dough to achieve perfect and even tightness -- rolling too loose will make the rolls collapse, while rolling too tight and pressing on the dough won't allow it to properly rise in the oven. 'Lift' is gently stretching the rectangular dough outwards away from you, then you 'tap' the dough down. You then "roll" down that side of the dough you are holding until the area where the cinnamon has stretched apart. Repeat on the other side, and continue doing so until you have a full log of rolled dough of 15 inches, which will be sliced into six rolls then baked in their oven.
5. Fresh-off-the-oven cinnamon rolls naturally stick to each other, its side pressing the other rolls when it rises during baking. These clingy parts of the bread that stick together are called kisses which you separate with a knife, before topping each freshly baked Cinnabon Classic roll with a slather of cream cheese frosting (exact ingredients a secret!) enough to cover the surface and fill the gaps (spaces between rolls).
3 Fun Treats to Try from Cinnabon (that aren't cinnamon rolls!)
It's clear that the rolls smothered in irresistable cinnamon sugar are Cinnabon's prized possessions, but give these other Cinnabon treats a shot and take them home to discover their signature soft breads and Makara® Cinnamon baked differently.
1. Raisin Bread (P130/loaf)
With a loaf boasting of the same kind of texture as the Cinnabons (read: soft and moist), their Raisin Bread uses the same dough, formed into a loaf of bread smothered with Makara® Cinnamon and dotted with raisins. Best consumed within two days, the bread is best sliced and toasted on the oven for 5 minutes, and spread with butter. Pro tip: make an easy French Toast Raisin Bread, as the loaves come with the simple recipe and procedures; make it extra luscious with a topping of butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.
2. Dinner Roll (75/pack)
Just like the raisin bread, Cinnabon's Dinner Rolls are products you can only find in Cinnabon Philippines -- they were first tried and tested for approval of Cinnabon before being sold at all the Manila bakeries. The rolls are from the same dough as Cinnabons, soft and moist, sans the cinnamon sugar, so that you can pair these soft rolls with your soups and savories at home.
3. Cinnabon Stix (P70/4pcs)
Mini-treats of hand held sweet treats, making for a good cinnamon-loaded snack for when you are on-the-go. These bready twisties are pop in your mouth fun, especially when freshly baked. Perfect with coffee too, just like the bons.
Cinnabon also rolls out limited-edition flavors; previously they have released a Nutella Minibon, and until August 2, 2015, their new
Mixed Berry Minibon (P95) is available at all 16 outlets.
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