While I have nothing against a warm doughnut or pain au chocolat, my heart has always belonged to the sticky bun. In my mind, it’s everything a breakfast pastry should be—gooey, cinnamony, and with so many layers to unearth, endlessly entertaining. (I started baking at age six with the sole intention of making my own super-gooey cinnamon rolls. Old habits die hard.)
When I saw Joanne Chang out-bake Bobby Flay on the Food Network’s Throwdown, I knew I had to hit up her Flour Bakery in Boston the first chance I got. Flay’s needlessly experimental orange-almond rolls couldn’t hold a candle to Joanna’s “Sticky Sticky Buns,” doused in a brown sugar-honey “Goo.”
What's Her Story?
Chang is a Harvard grad with a degree in Applied Mathematics—and whatever calculus she’s applying to these baked goods, it’s working. Flour Bakery has won acclaim across the board: Gourmet, the New York Times, and the recipient of Boston Magazine’s Best Bakery award four times. The Sticky Stickies are so sought-after that Flour recommends calling ahead of time to reserve your breakfast.
Needless to say, my expectations were high.
The Taste Test
By the time I got to the counter, the sticky buns on display were gone. Luckily, mine were waiting patiently in the back: warm, soft, and absolutely swimming in trademark Goo. One bite had me sold: this was the best sticky bun my mouth had ever met.
Sticky buns should be sweet, and this was: between caramel and brown sugar, with cinnamon and honey rounding things out. Sticky buns should also be a little nutty, and this was: pecans sprinkled on top and hiding between the layers. Sticky buns should be sticky, and this one was so thoroughly Gooed, it dripped all over the box, the table, my hands, and everything within a three-foot vicinity.
But even more importantly, the dough was tender and perfect. Plenty of sticky buns mask mediocre pastry in a sea of sugar, but this wasn’t the case with Joanna’s. The few un-Gooed bites were soft, sweet, and just a little yeasty, airy in the middle and a teeny bit crispy around the edges. And while the bun was big enough to satisfy my sticky bun tooth, it didn’t leave me weighed down or sugar-buzzed. (Even after I finger-swiped the extra Goo from the box.)
It's All About the Goo.
While Flour Bakery's other pastries are perfectly tasty—I especially liked the flaky, raspberry jam-filled “Pop Tart”—the sticky buns are the main event. So if you stop by for a gooey Sunday morning treat, make sure you call ahead. (And go to sleep with visions of sticky buns dancing in your head.) If a trip to Boston is nowhere in your future, fear not: Flour will even overnight them to you. No one should miss out on a breakfast this sticky.
1595 Washington Street, Boston MA 02118 (map)