Lockdown loves cinnamon rolls: Prague's best buns for pick-up and delivery plus a recipe

Move over sourdough! Expat bakers talked to us about why they can't roll out cinnamon buns fast enough during the latest wave.

Marcus Bradshaw

Written by Marcus Bradshaw
Published on 20.01.2021 11:38 (updated on 20.01.2021)

Cinnamon buns are proving to be the bake of choice for home bakers during this latest wave of lockdown. Don’t worry if you don’t have the patience to knead your own dough, these sweet treats – originating in Scandinavia and popular in North America – are becoming increasingly beloved in the Czech capital. 

The American chain Cinnabon has just opened branches in both the Chodov and Harfa shopping malls, the Artic Bakehouse, and the Conductor Cafe cater to the city center and Vršovice districts, while recent start-up Buns and Bites is offering a free delivery service across the city.

The recent start up

Buns and bites cinnamon rolls delivery
Buns and bites cinnamon rolls delivery

When asked why cinnamon rolls are enjoying such popularity at the moment, Buns and Bites co-founder Iman Delic points to the wintry climes of the bun’s native Scandinavia. “The cinnamon scent is very festive, which is amazing at this time of year” she says. It’s the smell of comfort on a cold winter’s evening.

Originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iman was not familiar with cinnamon buns before moving to Prague in 2018. “I’m ashamed to admit it now, but back then I ate cinnamon buns mostly in Starbucks!” Little did she imagine then that just two years later that she would start a fledgling business – during the middle of the pandemic – baking, selling, and delivering cinnamon buns around the city.

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Buns and bites packaging
Buns and bites packaging

Like many successful food businesses, Buns and Bites initial concept was developed at the kitchen table. “I baked some cinnamon buns at home one day and the results were fantastic. My boyfriend said, ‘We should start selling these’, and things went from there.”

Iman graduated with a degree in graphic design from Prague College in September 2020, which she has put to good use as she created a visual identity for her new brand. She maintains a strong focus on incorporating sustainability into her product; deliveries are made in cardboard boxes, lined with wax paper that can easily be removed, keeping the box clean and grease-free and allowing it to be reused.

Eager to check out the competition, she has visited the Cinnabon store in Harfa. “I liked their buns” she says, “and I admire that they’ve been in business for more than 30 years.” In comparison, Buns and Bites is a tiny operation, just Iman and her boyfriend Jón Karel, and they have both been very, very busy. Since they started the project in November 2020, they have been baking and delivering the buns themselves, as well as handling all of the marketing – taking photos, shooting and editing videos and managing their social media.

We have big plans for the future. Soon you’ll be able to buy Buns and Bites products in cafes and stores, but for now, you can buy online at bunsbites.com, with the discount code EXPATS15.

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"Cinnamon rolls have been very popular from the day we opened our bakery. We make them in four varieties and sales are continuing to grow," says Icelandic duo Gudbjartur Gudbjartsson and David Arnorsson. Their Artic Bakehouse bakery at Ujezd opened in April 2018 and their cinnamon rolls have been an instant hit.

We have been making cinnamon rolls for years in Iceland.

Artic Bakehouse use genuine Nordic recipes, honed through years of baking in Iceland and Scandinavia. Their rolls are available for collection at their bakeries at Ujezd 11 and Myslíkova 13, and for delivery through Wolt.

A happy accident

The Conductor Cafe, Krymska
The Conductor Cafe, Krymska

Whereas the Icelandic bakers grew up in a country with a strong cinnamon bun tradition, other bakers stumbled cinnamon rolls by accident. Slovenian chef Bojan Mišič from the Conductor Cafe on Krysmká was making bread rolls to be served with pulled pork when, one day, he found that he'd made too much dough. "I heard my grandma's voice in my head saying 'Don't waste bread!', and I thought, 'What I can do with this?'"

His thoughts led him to French toast, which he usually makes with cinnamon and powdered sugar, which gave him the inspiration to try cinnamon rolls. He baked a tray, put them on the window to cool, and then offered them, free of charge, to his regular customers as they ordered their pulled pork sandwiches.

It's perfect comfort food for colder days. It's just freshly baked dough with simple ingredients and an intoxicating aroma that evokes memories of home cooking. I think that's the reason why they are so popular.

As people started coming back for more, Bojan realized no one else in Prague was making cinnamon rolls at that time (December 2016), and that he had created an original that people were raving about. When asked what made his signature Conductor Rolls so successful, he says "Practice, quality ingredients, a fresh bake, and lots of love."

Before the Pandemic, Bojan was planning on opening a second store that would focus exclusively on cinnamon buns, but the calamity has delayed those plans. Despite the recent hardship, the Conductor Cafe continues to cook for its customers, and he is very thankful for their loyalty and support.

The Conductor Cafe Cinnamon Rolls
The Conductor Cafe Cinnamon Rolls

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However, he looks forward to the days when masks will no longer be necessary. The thing I miss the most these days is giving a big smile to our customers and getting another big smile right back. You can't see my smile behind the mask, but it's still there all the same."

Make your own cinnamon buns

Ingredients

  • 480ml whole milk, warmed
  • 100g sugar
  • 115g butter
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast
  • 625g flour (hladka)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the filling:

  • 165g light brown sugar
  • 170g butter
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For the icing:

  • 100g cream cheese
  • 30g butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 120g icing sugar

Instructions

1. In a large bowl, whisk the warm milk, sugar and melted butter. Add the yeast, stir, and set aside for 10 minutes. Add 500g of the flour to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Cover the bowl with cling film, and let rise in a warm place for one hour.

2. After the dough has doubled in size, turn out onto a clean surface. Add most of the remaining flour, baking powder, and salt. Knead the dough for ten minutes, adding flour as necessary, until the dough just loses stickiness and no longer sticks your hands.

3. Roll out the dough into a large rectangle, about 3cm thick. Spread the butter onto the dough using your fingers. Sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture on top and roll it into the dough using a rolling pin.

4. Starting from the short end, roll the dough into a log and pinch the seam closed. Place seam-side down. Cut the log into even pieces, about 8cm thick.

5. Place onto a greased baking tray, one roll in the middle and the others surrounding it. Leave to rise for at least 30 minutes, and preheat the oven to 180° C. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

6. Meanwhile, make the icing by whisking the sugar into the remaining ingredients. Beat until smooth and runny. Allow the buns to cool for 10 minutes, before drizzling over the icing.

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