Sticky cinnabons: a tribute to Nook Eatery

Cinnabons, straight from the oven

I recently became a coffee person after being a tea drinker of note for years. It started last year when I became pregnant: besides chocolate, coffee was one of my few (unwanted) cravings. I granted myself one really good quality cup of coffee or cappuccino per week, which meant that I started to frequent the coffee shop scene in picturesque Stellenbosch. And believe me, once you discover the world of coffee shop living, you cannot go back!!

I love going to Mila the Cake Shop in Dorp Street, for their decadent dark chocolate mousse cake and coffee, Oude Bank Bakkerij for the most beautifully made cappuccino in town and a pressed sandwich or a chocolate stick, and especially Nook Eatery in Ryneveld Street for a seriously strong cappuccino with a sticky cinnabon on the side. Nook is a small and cosy coffee shop / bakery / eatery serving freshly baked pastries, cakes, breakfasts, light meals and sometimes wood fired pizzas. They also make a daily lunch buffet which is to die for.

If you’ve seen the sticky cinnabons at Nook, you’ll agree that they don’t necessarily look like the star of the show. They might be easily overshadowed by the looks of the impressive German chocolate cupcakes or the tray of pain au chocolate. But oh dear, once you’ve tasted a sticky cinnabon from Nook you’ll never look back. It is a light and fluffy pastry, rolled up with a layer of muscavado sugar and cinnamon, baked in individual wrappers untill golden brown on top and drizzled with a sticky caramel and cinnamon sauce. Eaten slightly warm, it is just perfect with a very strong coffee or cappuccino.

I just had to try to recreate them at home, so I looked for a recipe online that resembled it the closest (check out Evan’s Kitchen Ramblings). You will need a stand mixer with a dough hook, because mixing the dough by hand just becomes a bit tedious. My house was filled with the most wonderful aroma while baking – very close to the smell hanging around at Nook! However, I have to admit that Nook’s original sticky cinnabons are unbeatable. No contest. The recipe below is just a (great tasting) decoy to keep me from hanging out at Nook on a daily basis.

Jessica and Luke: you have created a real gem in your little eatery. Hope to see you later for a quick cappuccino and an original sticky cinnabon.

Ingredients for the dough: (makes 12 cinnabons)

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • 115 g butter (around 1/4 of a 500 g brick)
  • 1 XL egg at room temperature, well beaten
  • 1 t vanilla extract or essence
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 cups white bread flour
  • 1 envelope instant yeast (10g)

Ingredients for the filling:

  • 115 g butter (around 1/4 of a 500g brick), softened but not melted
  • 1 cup muscavado sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fine cinnamon


  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter (do not let it boil) then add the water and milk, heating untill you can just put your finger in it without burning. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter mixture as well as the rest of the ingredients for the dough (in the order as set out above), and mix with the beater on low-speed for 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides, change to dough hook attachment and knead on medium speed until smooth (around 5-8 minutes) and no longer sticking to the sides.
  3. Lightly oil a large bowl, transfer dough to the bowl, cover with plastic and leave to prove in a warm area untill doubled in volume.
  4. Turn dough out on a floured surface and roll out roughly into a rectangle of around 60 x 30 cm wide and around 1 cm thick.
  5. Spread generously with the softened butter, then spread the muscavado sugar and cinnamon all over.
  6. Roll up in the length so that you have a 60 cm long log, then cut into 12 rounds.
  7. Arrange squares of baking paper inside a muffin tin, and put each round cut-side-up inside the muffin openings. Cover with a large plastic bag and let it prove once again untill nicely risen (around 30 min). Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  8. Remove plastic, and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes untill well risen and golden.
  9. Remove from oven and serve warm. The sugar and butter filling creates a lovely caramel sauce, but if you like yours really saucy you can make an extra batch of caramel sauce on the side and drizzle the cinnbons with it when they come out of the oven – just heavenly!

PS: I found out afterwards that Nook makes their cinnabons with croissant dough, which gives them their utterly fluffy texture. If you are skilled enough to make croissant dough, give it a try!

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