Is/can a cinnamon roll also/also be a donut?
November 12, 2018 5:32 AM   Subscribe

Three friends have been arguing this out, to no firm conclusion. The strongest argument against is that a cinnamon roll is (usually) baked and a donut is (usually) fried. But there are exceptions, as well as crossover versions [1][2][3]. To complicate, cinnamon rolls can be made from donut dough. Can they be the same, or not (either logically, or using empirical evidence)? Assume donut (US) = doughnut (UK).
posted by Wordshore to Food & Drink (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
No. The platonic donut is fried dough, while the platonic cinnamon roll is baked. They also generally use different dough and completely different structure. The fact that you can find weird crossovers doesn't change the quintessential nature of each.
posted by chrisamiller at 5:54 AM on November 12, 2018 [12 favorites]


Shape is the determining factor. If it is rolled out and put in spirals, it's a cinnamon roll. If it is either an O-shape or a filled round shape, it's a donut. There is no issue with these criteria. All your edge cases cited as crossovers are either clearly donuts or clearly cinnamon rolls. Except for that turducken-like thing, which is beyond description.
posted by quadrilaterals at 5:57 AM on November 12, 2018 [9 favorites]


There are yeasted donuts and cake donuts, which suggests that what makes something a donut is the mode of cooking, not the dough. Ergo, a cinnamon roll is not a donut.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:57 AM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]


That is: cinnamon roll, donut, donut (with some uncertainty as the frosting obfuscates the underlying structure), abomination / as described, cinnamon roll-stuffed donut.
posted by quadrilaterals at 5:59 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


The fact that donkeys and zebras can produce offspring does not make a donkey a zebra. Their offspring is neither a zebra nor a donkey.

Team separate foods represent: words mean things.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:06 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


So what if you made a cinnamon roll out of donut dough, rolled it like a cinnamon roll, and deep fried it like a donut? I'd say at that point you've made something that is both a cinnamon roll and a donut. Also the picture of a donut with a cinnamon roll inside is clearly in crossover territory.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:08 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


Shape is the determining factor...
posted by quadrilaterals


That is an unexpected and interesting line of argument. Extrapolating, does that mean that if the item under consideration is spiral then by default it is a cinnamon bun and cannot, either explicitly or implicitly, be a do(ugh)nut? As an exhibit, said bun available in branches of Ikea (in Europe, unsure as to the USA).
posted by Wordshore at 6:14 AM on November 12, 2018


Shape is the determining factor
...unexpected

To be fair, the shape is part of the name. While being rolled is not a sufficient condition (not all rolled things are cinnamon rolls), it is a necessary condition. If it is not rolled, it cannot be a cinnamon roll.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:17 AM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]


Also the picture of a donut with a cinnamon roll inside is clearly in crossover territory.

I'd argue no - it's right there in your wording. The inside part is a cinnamon roll; the outside is a donut. They are two things that are put together in this instance but remain, separately, a cinnamon roll and a donut.

Also, the other two pictures labeled crossover versions in the OP are both clearly donuts which use "cinnamon roll" as a flavor.
posted by augustimagination at 6:23 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


If I ask for a cinnamon roll, and you give me a fried dough torus, you are a doofus. Similarly, if I ask for a donut, and you give me a baked dough spiral, you are a dingus. By this we can establish these are two distinct cooked sweet dough products.

The question isn't is X a Y, but what differentiates the archetypes so upon examination, one can reliably categorize; or upon request by name, one can reliably deliver what is desired. To wit:

Cinnamon roll: sweet baked dough, rolled in a spiral, with interlayer butter and cinnamon, with optional icing.

Doughnut: sweet fried dough, either in a torus or a filled oblate spheroid, with optional icing.

You can play games with taxonomy all you want, finding exceptions, proving rules, but the purpose of categorization is clarity, so that when you say "give me a doughnut" or "give me a cinnamon roll" you know by first approximation what you'll get.

No, cinnamon rolls are not donuts.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:29 AM on November 12, 2018 [16 favorites]


Just because I can get cinnamon roll coffee creamer does make the coffee creamer a cinnamon roll. A cinnamon roll is a rolled baked yeast dough product. A donut is a fried dough (yeast or otherwise), generally a torus but other shapes are admissible. The frying/baking distinction is, however, a bright line and the flavor profile is a red herring.
posted by drlith at 6:40 AM on November 12, 2018 [9 favorites]


P.S.: Please do not exist, red herring donuts.
posted by drlith at 6:41 AM on November 12, 2018 [10 favorites]


traditionally, donuts were made as twists, not rings. Dough-knots can take many shapes.
posted by jb at 6:53 AM on November 12, 2018 [4 favorites]


Realising that an argument against is that a cinnamon roll/do(ugh)nut hybrid is, or cannot be, (n)either of these things, but arguably a new thing entirely. A parallel argument was made for the croissant-donut which was (from a marketing perspective) not a 'cronut' - though again the shape aspect perhaps comes into play as this particular item appears to be neither spherical or swirling but six-sided.

Another argument that such an item would be a (distinctly different) hybrid is provided by this exhibit which contains the attributes of both a do(ugh)nut and a burrito, but is neither.
posted by Wordshore at 6:54 AM on November 12, 2018


Gaze long enough on the hideous image of the gravid doughnut slashed to reveal its raw cinnamon roll fetus and a protective cataract of NO will form and obscure it from your view, at once preserving your sanity and answering this unhol(e)y question.
posted by Don Pepino at 6:59 AM on November 12, 2018 [6 favorites]


Refutation of new points: a "six sided" torus is a torus. Raised donuts with a hexagonal shape aren't that uncommon - I see them frequently, especially in grocery stores.

And am I missing something on that doughrito? It looks like literally just a burrito with a donut inside. Again, not a hybrid, just a thing inside another thing.
posted by augustimagination at 7:15 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


To confuse the issue, there is the honey bun: spiral in form, like a cinamon roll/bun, and fried, like a do[ugh]nut, and neither of the above.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 7:17 AM on November 12, 2018 [4 favorites]


Cinnamon roll: sweet baked dough, rolled in a spiral, with interlayer butter and cinnamon, with optional icing.

Doughnut: sweet fried dough, either in a torus or a filled oblate spheroid, with optional icing.


There are many recipes for baked doughnuts that are still called doughnuts. There are doughnut pans specifically for baking doughnuts. And if you put a cinnamon roll in a deep fryer, I'd probably call it a fried cinnamon roll.

Long johns are doughnuts, so there's another shape.

I think it's the preparation of the dough. For a cinnamon roll, you roll the dough out flat and add cinnamon, butter and sugar, then roll it up again. (I'm noticing that the word "roll" indicates two completely different actions.) For a doughnut, you roll out the dough and cut it into shapes.
posted by FencingGal at 7:31 AM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


A cinnamon roll belongs to the family of rolls - bread roll, sweet roll, etc. It is categorically not a doughnut.

A doughnut historically is always fried in fat. However there is a baked cake doughnut variation but it's not really that good.

If you deep fry a cinnamon roll it's a deep fried cinnamon roll. I'm not sure why you would, as the dominant fat taste in a cinnamon roll should be butter, not whatever you are deep frying in.

Source: Canadian, we eat the most doughnuts per capita as per Wikipedia.
posted by warriorqueen at 8:16 AM on November 12, 2018 [6 favorites]


That ramen donut is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen; why am I reading this thread over lunch?
posted by basalganglia at 9:08 AM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately, to complicate...

Encased between a raw & dehydrated cinnamon donut bun you'll find chocolate mousse, sliced banana, a sweet red velvet patty, vanilla & coconut cashew cream, pink candy-floss cream, sliced strawberry, crushed pistachio nuts and finally drizzled with a salted caramel sauce.

...troublingly resembles neither cinnamon bun, nor donut. I guess on the Venn Diagram interpretation of the original question, this particular example would sit either in the intersection, or outside all circles, depending on your perspective.
posted by Wordshore at 9:27 AM on November 12, 2018


[Look, this is fun chatfilter and we've given it a pass, but it needs to not become an extended and wide-ranging debate. If you want to propose the larger question for a MetaTalkTail, that'd be it's proper home.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:38 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yes; in God’s bakery there are many mansions. In fact both the cinnamon ronut and the cinnamon doll are lawful to the hungry.
posted by Segundus at 9:47 AM on November 12, 2018 [3 favorites]


Cake doughnuts are baked from cake batter. Yeast doughnuts are fried from yeast dough. If you put yeast dough in the oven and bake it, you have not made a doughnut, you have made a bread product of some other form, and I believe this to be a universally acknowledged truth. So anything you do to a baked cinnamon roll in its basic form lies in that same bread-not-doughnut realm and cannot therefore be a doughnut.

You could swirl cinnamon into cake batter and call it a cinnamon roll, but you would be at best sadly mistaken. You could describe it as a cinnamon roll style cake (or doughnut, if appropriately shaped) legitimately. English permits the omission of the word 'style' in that phrase, adding ambiguity, but since it wouldn't be a cinnamon roll based on other cinnamon roll requirements the word 'style' is implied. It is a cinnamon roll style doughnut, but not a doughnut that is also a cinnamon roll.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 10:36 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mais non, cake doughnuts are not baked. They are fried. All doughnuts are fried. The rising agent determines the doughnut type, not the method of cooking. The rising agent in the cake doughnut is baking soda rather than yeast.

At Mister Donut we sold a thing called a Mister Ugly which was yeast doughnut dough with a little of the filling for the apple-filled doughnuts and some cinnamon sugar swirled in. Heavy wads of this substance were fried to a mahogany finish and then opulently glazed. The result was the most bang for your Mister Donut buck, sugar- and dough-wise. If asked what Mister Uglies were, we were to tell people they were "apple fritters."

Were the Mister Uglies donuts? What about the other denizens of the "fancies" case? Were the "twists" doughnuts? (Twists were yeast batter twisted into the shape of the infinity sign, fried, and glazed--so basically a glazed yeast-raised doughnut, but with more dough.) I would have no trouble calling a twist a doughnut, but I couldn't call a Mister Ugly a doughnut. I couldn't honestly call it a fritter, either, since I think of fritters as sortof lightweight confections and you could have used a Mister Ugly as a doorstop if you needed to.
posted by Don Pepino at 11:53 AM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


If cake donuts cannot be baked, then what should we call the cakes that spring from these pans?
posted by HotToddy at 12:42 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


If you start with a flat sheet covered with flavors and roll it up into a spiral and slice into segments that are cooked edge-on then it's a bun. If you cut the tube into longer segments and join the ends into a torus and cook, then it's a rolled doughnut. Do it with the right sort of really thin dough and method and cinnamon and it's a cinnamon croissant rolled doughnut. YUM.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:53 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


So what if you made a cinnamon roll out of donut dough, rolled it like a cinnamon roll, and deep fried it like a donut?

My local grocery store (Hy-Vee) bakery makes these, and even puts white glaze/frosting on top.

They're pretty good.

No idea what to call them though other than cinnamon roll donuts.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 1:03 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


what should we call the cakes that spring from these pans?

...loop muffins?
posted by Don Pepino at 2:36 PM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]


At the risk of being a killjoy and spoilsport, I am going to insert The World Famous's comment from the Cereal=Soup? question back in 2011:

". . .the names we give food are not part of any rigid taxonomy. You're trying to find taxonomy where there is only nomenclature."

I'm sorry / you're welcome.

(That said, donuts and cinnamon rolls are manifestly different things, odd loopholes and hybrids not withstanding. Yes, this is the hill I'm prepared to die on)
posted by ananci at 2:41 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]


...loop muffins?

Loopholes?
posted by HotToddy at 3:32 PM on November 12, 2018 [5 favorites]


A cinnamon roll is no more a donut than a hot dog is a sandwich.
posted by boghead at 9:23 PM on November 12, 2018 [1 favorite]


No. The easiest way to assure yourself of this is to misguidedly buy something temptingly described as a "Cinnamon Scroll" from a purveyor of doughnuts, only to discover that it is (unsurprisingly, with hindsight) most definitely and disappointingly a cinnamon-roll-shaped-and-flavoured doughnut.

Why yes, I speak from experience. Still bitter.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 2:53 AM on December 14, 2018


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