It’s no easy task, but someone had to take it on, Dan Edwards said, mixing and pouring a picture of days spent in his home kitchen, baking up what could be the best cinnamon roll ever to rise in Kansas City.
“I really couldn’t find a good cinnamon roll,” Edwards, founder of Tin Pan Cinnamon Rolls, said of what sparked his start down a sinfully swirled path to deliver the treat he craved most.
Too dense, too sweet, too doughy, too frosted — just a few of the problems Edwards came across as he tried to satisfy the sweet tooth metrowide, he recalled.
“I just decided, ‘You know what? I’m going to go for it.’”
So, three years ago, with the help of a legion of friends and family lined up willing and eager to taste test every proofed prototype, Edwards did it, he said.
“Everybody thought it was amazing and I got some offers to buy them and then one thing kind of led to another,” he said of the day his signature tin pan full of cinnamon rolls debuted in the breakroom of Reactor Design Studios, the Crossroads Arts District-baked marketing and branding engine where a good friend of Edwards worked.
“They really liked them and I hadn’t done anything with the business yet,” he recalled, noting the venture was more of a hobby as he transitioned out of his career as a music teacher and stepped into a role as a “full-time” dad, staying home with his four young children.
“They offered to do some design work for me and get some branding going. Really, that was kind of what launched the business. I had some ideas in the back of my head, but they really kind of helped me formulate them. They jumpstarted me.”
With customers lining up to order Edwards’ creation, swirled with a generous balance of cinnamon and spices then topped with just the right amount of vanilla glaze — but never cream cheese frosting — the home baker-turned-entrepreneur found immense value in making the business feel personal.
“It’s just me in my kitchen, taking orders over email,” he said. “I’ve done pop-ups, but delivery is what I’ve centered [the business] around. That’s 80 to 90 percent of my business right now.”
And sold out delivery dates for the month of December are a sure sign Tin Pan holds something special with each drop-off.
Click here for information on placing an order in various sizes or to purchase a gift card.
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“Folks are at home. They want this kind of novel, unique idea that they can get a warm, freshly-baked pan of cinnamon rolls on their doorstep,” he said of customer reactions as they discover Tin Pan for the first time.
“People really like that. Anybody I hand the pan to says, ‘Oh, they’re still warm,’ and that’s kind of my whole bag; bringing them as fresh as possible, still warm from the oven.”
Tin Pan Cinnamon Rolls use a blend of cinnamons to add punch and complexity to a normally boring pastry: Saigon (Vietnam) for spice and power, Korintje (Indonesia) for warmth, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) for exotic floral notes, said Dan Edwards.
And still warm in Edwards’ mind: his childhood baking memories, instilled in him by his mom — a consumer sciences teacher — and driving his commitment to perfectly baked treats as he looks to scale the business beyond a one-man, home cooked show in 2021.
“That’s where I started baking. Sitting with her and making cookies and cakes and things in the kitchen. I always loved helping her out,” he said, noting he now has the same opportunity to share the art of baking — and an entrepreneurial mindset — with his kids.
“We did Christmas cookies last night and they love getting in the kitchen with me. They’re excited about learning, eventually, they’re pretty young still. But them getting to help me with the business is something I look forward to in the future,” he said.
“Being a dad and doing this has been great. Before COVID, I could drop them off at school and me and my youngest would go on delivery routes.”
As the pandemic presented the world with its challenges, Edwards’ too had to pivot, shrinking his delivery capacity to juggle the needs of family, which made Tin Pan an even larger-scale family business, he said.
“My wife has helped in a big way. I work around her schedule to deliver, because there’s days that she can work from home,” he said, crediting her for her immense support of the growing business.
“I usually bake in the evenings, prep pans, I’ll roll out the dough, get them rolled out and then they rise overnight in the fridge. I usually do that in the evenings either after the kids have gone to bed. It’s definitely a partnership with me and my wife she’s super supportive and she lets me do this — and it’s not easy.”
But what does come easy for Edwards: passion, further fueled by his surprising progress, he said.
“It’s just a pan of cinnamon rolls — but it’s probably going to be the best cinnamon roll you’ve ever had,” he said playfully.
“I fixed what needed to be fixed with cinnamon rolls around town and when you taste the cinnamon rolls — you’re going to understand that and realize, ‘This is the cinnamon roll I’ve been dreaming about.’”
Watch a Curbside KC interview with Dan Edwards below.