That Cinnamony Goodness

UBC Cinnamon Buns

Nearly 65 years of UBC alumni remember the pillowy softness and caramelized edges of the UBC cinnamon bun as a quintessential part of their university experience. But where did it all begin?

The UBC cinnamon bun recipe was first perfected by Hungarian Baker Grace Hasz in 1954. Within a few years she went from baking two dozen to a staggering 120 dozen per day as the bun grew in popularity.

This is the very same mixer Grace Hasz used to develop her cinnamon bun recipe. Now it’s an irreplaceable UBC artefact.
This is the very same mixer Grace Hasz used to develop her cinnamon bun recipe. Now it’s an irreplaceable UBC artefact.

Grace baked cinnamon buns for UBC until her retirement in 1971.

She baked by instinct and never wrote the recipe down, though her grandson has recorded his attempts to create the original recipe from memory (ubccinnamonbun.blogspot.ca).

A few things have changed since 1955 – the original recipe used margarine, a holdover from war-time butter shortages, and was said to have so much cinnamon the filling looked black – but the association between UBC and great cinnamon buns has never diminished.

Today’s recipe is still made from scratch every day, using real butter and simple ingredients. Next time you’re craving a cinnamon bun, you’ll find them in most UBC Food Services locations. But go early – they often sell out!

For the crafty home bakers out there, here’s the recipe used in our campus bakery:

UBC Cinnamon Bun Recipe

Yield: 18 large cinnamon buns

Ingredients:

Dough

3 cups (750mL) milk
6 tbsp (90mL) butter
6 tbsp (90mL) plus 1 tsp (5mL) granulated sugar
1 tbsp (15mL) salt
½ cup (125mL) warm water
2 envelopes active dry yeast
2 large eggs
9 cups (2.25L) all-purpose flour

Filling

¾ cup (175mL) melted butter
1¼ cups (300mL)
granulated sugar
2 tbsp (30mL) cinnamon

Method:

  1. Scald milk. Stir in butter, 6 tbsp sugar, and salt. Cool to lukewarm.
  2. Dissolve remaining 1 tsp sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over water mixture. Let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes. Stir.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine lukewarm milk mixture with eggs. Stir in dissolved yeast mixture.
  4. Add four to five cups of the flour and beat well for 10 minutes. With a wooden spoon, gradually add enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough.
  5. Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, adding additional flour as needed. This is a soft dough!
  6. Place dough in a well-greased bowl and roll around to grease all sides of the dough. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about one hour.
  7. Punch down dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half.
  8. To fill, roll out each piece of dough into a 9 x 18-inch rectangle. Spread 1/4 cup of melted butter evenly onto each rectangle.
  9. Combine sugar and cinnamon for filling. Sprinkle onto the rectangles. Roll dough up like a jelly roll, starting from the long side. Cut into 2-inch slices.
  10. Place remaining ¼ cup of melted butter into the bottom of a 16½ x 11½ x 2½‑inch pan. Arrange slices in the pan and cover loosely with greased wax paper.
  11. Let rise in pan until doubled in size, about 45-60 minutes.
  12. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
  13. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
  14. Remove from oven and immediately invert onto a serving tray.

Comment

12 comments

  1. Chris Traynor says:

    I received my Trek magazine in the mail Wednesday, and tried this recipe out the next morning. It’s delicious! Reminded me fondly of my time at UBC.

    May I suggest an Oxford comma in the first line of the directions, after “sugar”? I had to read the line twice to make sure I didn’t put 6 tbsp of salt in the milk–which I’m sure would have flunked the recipe.

    1. Duncan Schouten says:

      Hi Chris,

      Good catch! I never need much convincing to use an Oxford comma, so I’ve put it into the recipe as you suggested.

      Glad to hear that the buns brought back some fond memories.

      Best regards,
      Duncan
      Assistant Editor, Trek Magazine

    2. Sandra Vena says:

      Someone is a little “salty” about the Oxford comma!

  2. Going to try to make a healthier version of the UBC cinnamon buns (475 calories each) that I truly miss. I remember the cashier always telling me I would become fat from eating them. Luckily I retired into becoming a Personal Training and Nutrition Specialist.

    1. pesach aceman says:

      what is the recipe for a “healthier version”

  3. Lana says:

    Tried buns today, but they seem a lot less sugary/gooey than I remember (or the photos indicate). They were a lot more like a standard cinnamon bun in the end – tasty, but could use icing. I can’t see where I missed something.

  4. Nancy Chiao says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for printing out the recipe. My fondest memories of UBC involve these cinnamon buns. As a student on limited income, I would often buy one in the morning and eat it slowly during the day. : )

    I have been on campus various times recently and have not seen any for sale. I keep telling my son about them but sadly he cannot fathom how delicious they are – most of the food outlets are contracted out. Hopefully UBC will go back to the old days and create more of a ‘home made’ atmosphere.

  5. Katherine says:

    I halved the recipe as it is quite large. Sigh. Very delicious and brings back memories. With a liver transplant I follow the “90/10 rule.” That is, eat healthy at least 90% of the time and enjoy these buns for my 10% of indulgence today
    . When I was 3 years old I helped my mother bake some peanut butter cookies. I asked her if I could please have one even though it was close to suppertime. She crouched down and looked into my hopeful big blue eyes and said, “Of course darling, that’s why we made them.” If you don’t make these buns so you can sit right down to savor and enjoy this delightful creation, then don’t make them.

  6. pesach aceman says:

    this was the reason to get to UBC early and sit with the gang and have a drink/coffee and a bun or two never had anything like it since will have to try the recipe and someone wrote a healthy style of bun. If they could add comments by what they meant in changing the ingredients i woul really appreciate

  7. A Klann says:

    When I recently toured UBC with my grade 12 daughter, sadly there were no food outlets selling the buns and the best we could do was buy cinnamon buns on Alma. Our student guides didn’t know much about the buns – or about the history of Lady Godiva and the Engineers ride (that definitely raised an eyebrow). I say bring back the UBC cinnamon buns, some traditions deserve to live on!

  8. Hilja Toom BSc(Pharm) 1981 says:

    Since I left UBC many, many moons ago, I have craved – yet never found – sticky buns to match those I eagerly devoured at UBC. They were my once-a-week ‘splurge’ which I looked forward to with great anticipation.

    Needless to say, I was thrilled to find the recipe in the latest Trek magazine and have already baked a big batch, sharing them around to family and friends … shamelessly addicting them to the sticky, cinnamony, piece of heaven – way down here in Australia.

    Thank you so much for publishing the recipe. Yay UBC Sticky Buns!

  9. Wayne G'Froerer says:

    I ate so many cinnamon buns at UBC in the 60s that the sight and smell of these whoopers are etched forever in my memory. Oh, the joy of sitting down at the SUB and tearing off bits of the scroll and savouring the texture and cinnamon is part of the happy time I had at UBC. To read your article triggered many memories like Brock Hall, the Auditorium, Acadia Camp, the “old” Music building and adjacent huts and of course Lady Godiva. (I once had the joyful privilege of “leading” the Homecoming Parade in downtown Vancouver in 1967 in my old Hillman Minx (known as the Purple Fart) with the Queen Mama Schultz of the Music Faculty waving her wand.) See what a cinnamon bun memory can do!!! Still looking for more of these buns in Australia!! The recipe is a gem!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please be aware that comments submitted through this form will appear publicly below this article. Comments may also be published in future print issues of Trek magazine.

Comments are moderated, and may take some time to appear.