Relentlessly time marches on, and it is now more than a dozen years since the Tuck Shop last opened its doors.
The establishment which at one time figured so largely in the University of Alberta experience is now just a rapidly fading memory. Only a mere handful of today's University of Alberta students have even heard of the eatery and social centre that figured so prominently in the campus life of their predecessors. No plaque marks the spot on the east side of 112 Street where it stood before giving way to progress and the new Fine Arts Centre.
But the Tuck Shop is not without a legacy on campus for each weekday morning hundreds of persons — albeit most unknowingly — pay tribute to its memory as they enjoy one of the cinnamon buns which originated with that establishment.
The cinnamon buns are exclusive to the CAB Cafeteria where, according to the cafeteria manager Mrs. Joyce Kerr, as many as 70 dozen are baked in a morning. And it is a rare day that any remain unsold at noon. In fact, care is taken to ensure that not too many of the buns are made, for, as Mrs. Kerr explains, "they're best fresh."
It is to Mrs. Kerr that credit must go for preservation of the Tuck Shop Cinnamon Bun tradition on campus. She has been the manager of the CAB Cafeteria since the Central Academic Building opened in 1971 and she brought the recipe for the special cinnamon buns with her.
Mrs. Kerr had begun her involvement with the University's food services operation more than 20 years earlier when she went to work in the cafeteria of the Education Building (the building now renamed Corbett Hall). While there she developed a popular cinnamon roll that is still made on campus for the Lister Hall cafeteria and the smaller campus lunchrooms. But her fateful meeting with the Tuck Shop Cinnamon Bun was still in the future — after she had been involved in the opening of the Lister Hall operation in the mid-1960s and had then moved on to SUB when it opened in 1967.
In SUB she ran a special test kitchen where recipes were tested and developed and standards and purchasing specifications for the entire campus food services operation were set.
Then, in 1968, the University acquired the Tuck Shop, which had been in business since 1917, and Mrs. Kerr, while continuing her involvement in the SUB test kitchen, became manager of the Tuck Shop lunch counter. And there the fateful meeting took place.
For a good many years the Tuck Shop had served a popular cinnamon bun, but the recipe had never been standardized and the results were not always consistent. Enter Mrs. Kerr with her broad background in recipe testing and development. She perfected and standardized the cinnamon bun recipe, and when the Tuck Shop closed she ensured it would have a legacy by making the Tuck Shop Cinnamon Buns a feature of the new CAB Cafeteria.
The recipe given here is a version developed by Mrs. Kerr especially for use in home kitchens. Happy baking.
Tuck Shop Cinnamon Buns
Soften 2 packages instant yeast
or (not both) 1 oz. Fleishmann's fresh yeast
in 1/2 cup warm water
and 2 Tbsp. sugar
Let this mixture set until the yeast is dissolved (about 10 minutes).
In a large bowl put 2 cups boiling water
Add 3 Tbsp.margarine
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. sugar
Let the margarine melt and the mixture cool a bit.
Then add 2 cups All Pupose flour
Beat this mixture hard until very smooth and creamy (about 5 minutes).
Then add the softened yeast mixture,
and 3 1/4 cups more flour
Continue beating until the dough is very smooth. (It should be a very soft dough.) Cover and let stand in a warm place to rise until the dough is doubled in bulk (about 1 hour).
When dough is rising:
In a flat pan melt 1/3 cup margarine
Set aside to cool.
In a flat dish mix 1 cup white sugar
and 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Turn the raised dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Let the dough set 5 to 10 minutes to "firm up". Cut the dough into pieces about the size of an orange. Dip each piece of dough first into the melted margarine, then coat it well in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Stretch the dough piece until it is 4 to 5 inches long and form it into a simple knot. Place the knots side by side in a 9" x 12" x 2" pan. (Be sure the pan is 2" deep and allow a 3" square for each bun.) Let the finished buns rise for about 45 minutes. Bake at 375 C for 30 minutes. This recipe makes 18 good sized buns.
N.B. An electric mixer is needed for this recipe as it requires a lot of beating. If the dough is too soft to handle, add a bit more flour. However, the less flour used the better the buns will be.
Published August 1982.