Dining With Denise Neil

Best cinnamon rolls made at home – with ‘a lot of love in them’

Kim Love’s cinnamon rolls are raised three times, which she says contributes to their airy goodness.
Kim Love’s cinnamon rolls are raised three times, which she says contributes to their airy goodness. The Wichita Eagle

When they were kids, Kim Love and her siblings always looked forward to Easter.

That’s when “Mama Love,” their mother, Ahnawake Love, would make her famous cinnamon rolls and frost them in pastel colors.

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“She would say, ‘Here. Take these and go sit on the front porch,’ ” Kim Love said with a laugh.

Years later, Kim – the youngest of Mama Love’s 15 children – is the only one who can make those cinnamon rolls like Mama Love did, her family members say.

They also say Kim Love’s cinnamon rolls are the best cinnamon rolls ever made.

Anywhere.

When I asked readers to tell me which restaurants and cafes sold Wichita’s best cinnamon rolls, I received more than 20 Facebook responses insisting that no one makes cinnamon rolls like Kim Love.

In fact, several respondents insisted that the best cinnamon rolls weren’t sold in restaurants but rather were made with love in home kitchens by their mothers, their aunts, their wives. (A heck of a lot of good that does the rest of us.)

Kim Love’s cinnamon rolls aren’t available to the public – but they used to be. When Mama Love had her namesake restaurant in Old Town from 1998 to 2001, Kim would make and sell her cinnamon rolls to customers.

Now, she makes them only for her huge family on special occasions. Back trouble keeps her from baking as much as she’d like.

Kim Love’s cinnamon rolls are big and bready, but the dough is light and fluffy. The secret, she says, is letting it rise three separate times. But that’s the only secret she’s willing to share.

“I put a lot of love in them,” she said. “I think it’s just the lightness of the dough people like. Plus they’re dripping with frosting, and then there’s the gooey-ness of the center. Everybody loves the center.”

Each one of her siblings prefers a different roll from the giant pans of 12 she makes. Some want theirs to come right from the center. Some prefer a corner roll.

“She’s the only one that can capture the essence of my mother’s cinnamon rolls,” brother Robert said as he devoured one at his sister’s kitchen table one recent afternoon. “It’s like visiting mom every time you get one of these.”

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