by Cheryl Baehr
We have Sweden to thank for inventing the cinnamon roll, but two St. Louis bakeries are putting their own stamp on the breakfast treat. For this week's Thursday Throwdown, we visited Amy's Corner Bake Shop (4476 Chouteau Avenue; 314-371-2253) and Crepes Etc. (52 Maryland Plaza; 314-367-2200) to see who heaps weekend mornings with the biggest dose of comfort.
Amy's Corner Bakeshop
Tucked away off the beaten path in the Grove, Amy's Corner Bakeshop infuses the air around its Chouteau and Taylor avenues storefront with the aroma of baked treats. The charming shop is known for pies, cakes and cupcakes, but its secret weapons are the freshly baked cinnamon rolls. At first glance, they're nothing remarkable -- just a pinwheel of dough, lightly glazed and flecked with cinnamon. Upon tasting this sweet treat, however, it's clear that subtlety is its strength. The soft yet hearty dough is filled with a rich, yeasty flavor that is akin to sourdough. The roll is semi-sweet, with more cinnamon than a hint, but not so much as to make it a spice bomb. The glaze is similar to what you might expect on a doughnut -- enough sugar to give it a glisten without forming a thick coating.
Julie Weldele's cinnamon rolls are quickly becoming one of the town's hottest pastries. Walk into Crepes Etc. on any given weekend morning, and the line out the door is filled with patrons ogling the gigantic cinnamon pillows that grace the display case. These rolls are quite the sight to behold, but they're not just pretty faces. These soft morning buns are filled with caramelized, buttery cinnamon sugar that collects in crispy little pockets throughout their interior. The vanilla-y cream cheese icing melts over the top and gets in between each nook and cranny, making this a knife-and-fork-necessary pastry.
The difference between the cinnamon rolls at Amy's Corner Bakeshop and Crepes Etc. is like the difference between Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. Amy's "Audrey" is all about subtlety -- a hint of sugar, a dusting of cinnamon, a taste that evokes sourdough. Crepes Etc.'s "Marilyn" is a voluptuous, over-the-top treat. It's in-your-face and makes no apologies for its deliciousness. The nice thing about Amy's Corner Bakeshop's roll is that it is savory enough to eat more than one. However, for sheer spectacle, Crepes Etc. takes the honors.