When you spend your whole childhood living in one city, you get to know the local carbs. In Madison, Wis. in the ’80s and ’90s, that meant Rocky Rococo pizza, Bagels Forever bagels, and the morning bun from the Ovens of Brittany. The last of these items is a local legend, and it still pops up (with varying degrees of fidelity and quality) around town, with good renditions at Barriques and Lazy Jane’s Cafe, and a relatively feeble version at La Brioche (the actual heir to the Ovens of Brittany business). And if you’re a glutton for punishment, you can even make them in your own kitchen.
The thing that makes the morning bun so addictive is this: You get the flaky sophistication of a croissant plus the gooey sweetness of a cinnamon roll, creating a “best of both breakfast worlds” situation. Good croissant dough has a chewy, flaky, buttery character that is well-complemented by the aggressive sprinkling of some cinnamon and sugar, and a great morning bun is at once sophisticated and childishly delightful.
Honey and Rye, the St. Louis Park bakeshop, has a morning bun on its menu for $3.50. Despite similarities in name and structure, there’s no direct Madison connection. Baker Anne Andrus says her first morning bun came from an Oakland, Calif. bakery called La Farine, and her version uses Danish dough (which typically includes milk, sugar, and eggs), rather than a simpler croissant dough, for added tenderness. And while it’s not a bite-for-bite clone of the Madison version, it’s quite strong in its own right. The Honey and Rye bun is about half the size of the big honkin’ buns found in Wisconsin, and it lacks the large, gooey core of its Madison counterpart. Instead, it has a delightfully consistent, chewy crispiness accented by a strong natural-cinnamon kick. In short, slightly different item, same result — a high-class yet slightly silly breakfast-time indulgence.
Honey and Rye Bakehouse, 4501 Excelsior Blvd, Minneapolis; 612.844.2555