During one of my recent visits to Belle for a breakfast sandwich, baker Scott Shanesy emerged from the kitchen to tell me how pleased he was with his recent batches of cinnamon rolls. He displayed the earnest excitement of a passionate cook who had nailed it. As if I were not already sold, immediately after we spoke, one of Charlottesville’s better chefs entered Belle, ordered breakfast, and, unprompted, began congratulating Shanesy on his cinnamon rolls, which he had tried on a previous visit. “Honestly, man,” he said, “best cinnamon roll I have had in a long time.”
Now that I have had one, I see what they mean.
Shanesy uses a sourdough that he ferments for 48 hours, which not only adds flavor but also yields a roll that retains a pleasantly soft texture all day long, without drying out. He incorporates a touch of orange into the glaze, giving it a citrusy tang that complements that of the dough. If any of this sounds off-putting, it is because my words do not do justice to the finished product. Shanesy’s well-considered tweaks do not offend the palate as unnecessary cheffy deviations. Rather, the result is a traditional cinnamon roll experience, enhanced.