I was watching TV the other night when one character lobbed the insult "doughboy" at another. The next thing I know, I was thinking of the Pillsbury Doughboy and cinnamon rolls in the can.
I probably ate a thousand of those things growing up. My mom always let me peel the paper off the can, and when it didn't open -- it never opened -- she let me poke the seam with a knife or beat the hell out of the can until it obeyed me and released the sweet, raw dough inside.
My life hasn't been bereft of non-canned cinnamon rolls, but I figured it was a good time to turn a critical eye toward my childhood favorite. After all, it's not like all cinnamon rolls are created equal, and cinnamon plus dough plus icing doesn't automatically mean baked success.
The first stop on my cinnamon roll tour was Spencer's Grill
in Kirkwood. Its roll (on the right in the photo) was moist and chewy in a pleasant way. It had a slight brown sugar taste to it, with just the right amount of cinnamon. The icing had a slight creaminess and tasted a lot like Pillsbury's little-plastic-container-inside-the-can icing I remember so fondly from when I was a kid.
Even better? There was a ton of that icing. My server nuked the cinnamon roll for a few seconds and then microwaved a whole cup of icing and poured it over the roll -- which, by the way, was already lightly drizzled with icing. You might think this would be overkill. I know I did. But, when I tasted it, it was still just perfect. It didn't make the roll soggy or gloppy at all. Thank you, Spencer's!
I then headed to Companion Bakehouse
in Clayton. It was almost closing, and there weren't any cinnamon rolls left, but MoMos were in stock (at the top of the photo). The MoMo is essentially a cinnamon roll without icing. Gasp! Who do they think they are trying to re-invent the cinnamon roll? Um, experts, that's who they are.
While I'll admit I missed the icing, this was still a top-shelf cinnamon roll experience. Companion dusts the outside in sugar to make up for the lack of icing, and the roll itself is of the substantial brioche variety. I think it could use a bit more cinnamon through the roll, but it will definitely curb a craving.
is right across the street from the Clayton Companion, I decided to give its cinnamon roll a go, too. I wasn't disappointed. This roll (on the left) was the amplest of the three, and every bite was amazing. It was slightly crispy on the outside, but still tender and doughy inside. It had the most solid texture of the rolls I tried but was moist nonetheless, with a nice mild yeasty taste.
The generous drizzle of icing was just right. Its flavor was a bit different -- like maybe there's almond extract or something else you wouldn't normally get in cinnamon-roll icing in there. This is a roll to be reckoned with.
Even after eating three great cinnamon rolls, you know what I still want, right? Pillsbury, here I come...