What does it take to make over 300 cinnamon buns in a morning? First, you need goopers, then rollers, then bakers, then dumpers, and finally, wrappers. Then mix in friendship, humor, and a whole lot of life experience. Sugar doesn’t hurt either.
I turned up early one morning (or so I thought) to learn about the monthly cinnamon bun sale at the Central Bucks Senior Center in Doylestown. Although it was a quarter to eight, the place was already in high gear. The “goopers” were spreading a delicious mix of sugar and butter (“goop”) on the bottom of a dozen square baking pans. The rollers were, well, rolling. The dough had been mixed at 5:30 that morning, and three ladies and one gentleman were hard at work rolling it out, sprinkling copious amounts of cinnamon sugar, raisins and nuts on the dough. Amidst friendly banter and chatter, the crew was turning out pans and pans of buns, some with raisins, some with nuts and some plain (“virgin” as one roller described it).
The cinnamon bun sale has been going on at the center the last week of every month for at least 25 years, if not more, all done by members of the center who volunteer their time one morning a month. At one time they were turning out 500 buns a day, says Alice Troster, who sits at one of the large round tables in the senior center’s dining room, knitting and chatting with fellow “dumpers.” I sit down to listen and share a cup of coffee when suddenly a bell goes off and everyone at the table drops whatever they are doing, and hustles into the kitchen. The buns are done and need to be dumped out.
You know what sticky buns taste like. Try to imagine what it smells like when 30 pans of buns are coming out of the oven at once. Of course I had to try one—a warm, gooey one—right out of the oven. It was good.
The recipe for the buns comes from member Andy Zeek, or rather his father, who had a bakery in Doylestown. “These are the best,” says Zeek. “The only ones that come close are at the Quakertown Farmers Market.” But why go to Quakertown when you can pick up a dozen or more buns on Tuesdays through Fridays, the last week of every month (except December) at the Senior Center? You can even order ahead, as many local businesses do as a treat for their employees.
The buns freeze well, says Bun Day Coordinator Kim Osker, who has been working with the Senior Center volunteers for five years. “I love being here,” she says, “It’s a great bunch of people.” Osker says anyone can volunteer, you don’t have to be a member, and you can be any age (one of the goopers is 15 years old). It’s worth it just to smell all those buns coming out of the oven, and to devour a warm and sticky one on the spot.
Beginning at 9 am you can buy the buns by the dozen in four flavors: plain ($5), raisin ($5.50), nuts ($5.50), or raisin and nuts ($6.50).
This week the sale begins on Tuesday, October 27 and continues through Saturday, November 1, every day from 9 am to 3 pm. The sale takes place the last week of every month with the exception of December.
Stop by the center at 700 Shady Retreat Road in Doylestown (near the intersection of Shady Retreat and Broad St., just off the Doylestown by-pass). For more information or to order ahead, call 215.348.0565.