Cinnamon rolls are an unrestrained indulgence. Oversized, over-sweetened and overly sticky, when done the American way these delights are both too messy and too tasty to share. For many from the States, they offer a brand of nostalgia that’s hard to replicate. For this reason, ‘a taste of home’ makes a befitting slogan for Jingan newcomer CinnaSwirl, Shanghai’s first dedicated cinnamon roll joint.
Unlike the lighter Scandinavian variety, CinnaSwirl’s rich, doughy rolls are dripping with all-American decadence. Their fresh flavour attests to the care that goes into their preparation, with all-natural ingredients mixed on-site in small batches throughout the day. During baking hours, their aroma pours out the shop door and onto the street.
While flavours such as pumpkin and raisin (21RMB/each, 95RMB/box of six) are rotated, it’s hard to beat the original (18RMB/each, 75RMB/box of six) – a delightful interplay of sugar and spice, made extra-moist with a drizzle of frosting. For treat-seekers practising CinnaSwirlmoderation, there are mini-sized versions, too (25RMB/three, 85RMB/box of 12).
CinnaSwirl first got its start in the kitchen of Shanghai-based American food-blogger Heather Turner. When friends lamented the city’s lack of good cinnamon rolls, she dug up her family recipe and rolled up her sleeves. Distributing the homemade buns to her buddies created a buzz, and soon she was launching an online delivery operation to meet demand. Initially, Turner and her husband Jared handled the entire process, but balancing their growing business with raising four kids proved tricky, leading them to hire staff and take the operation bricks-and-mortar.
Now, CinnaSwirl’s humble digs consist of a kitchen, countertop and cash register, meaning it’s mainly a takeaway spot – that is if you can manage to get your roll out the door before devouring it.