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Classic Swedish cinnamon buns or kanelbullar. An easy to make kanelbullar recipe resulting in soft, aromatic cardamom and cinnamon buns, perfect to have with coffee.
Apparently the Swedish people eat cakes and pastry the equivalent of 316 cinnamon buns per year and that is just the bought stuff, Swedes love to bake their cinnamon buns and cakes at home as well.
No wonder that when it comes to cinnamon buns, cinnamon rolls or kanelbullar, they are so good you will probably want to eat a couple every day.
Not that I recommend it though, all that sugar and refined flour is not exactly what you would call healthy… but from time to time, nothing beats a warm and soft kanelbullar with your coffee, either in the morning or in the afternoon.
SWEDISH CINNAMON BUNS
I love yeasty baked goods and I enjoy baking with yeast, so when I decided to make a Swedish recipe to fit in my World Cup Food series, kanelbullar were the first to come to mind. Kanelbullar and Swedish meatballs – thank you, Ikea. 🙂
I’ve been making Swedish cinnamon buns for years, I did have them for the first time at Ikea and I thought that I could definitely make them at home myself. And I did, they were some of the first sweet things with yeast I have ever baked.
And although many people are intimidated about working with yeast, please don’t be. Baking with yeast is much easier than you might think, once you’ve done it, you will realize that and you’ll keep doing it again and again. Have a look at these Moldavian Yeast Pastries with Honey Walnut Topping, which are to die for or this Pull-Apart Yeast Cake or Hungarian Coffee Cake.
And there is nothing better than the smell of these Swedish cinnamon buns filling your house, you will start drooling before you even take them out of the oven and the worst part of it are the 10 minutes or so that you will have to wait before being able to eat one kanelbullar without burning your tongue.
WHAT ARE KANELBULLAR?
A Swedish cinnamon bun or cinnamon roll or kanelbullar are rolled pieces of yeast-leavened dough, coated with butter and sprinkled with a generous amount of sugar and cinnamon. The rolls gets cut into smaller pieces which resemble snails. That is the reason why the cinnamon rolls or buns are cold cinnamon snails in German or Danish, for instance.
What sets the Swedish kanelbullar or Swedish cinnamon rolls apart from other cinnamon buns is the use of cardamom, which give the kanelbullar their distinctive taste.
The use of cardamom might sound strange when it comes to Swedish food, cardamom being a spice we usually associate with Indian or Middle Eastern cooking or baking. But actually Sweden is one of the countries that uses the most cardamom, not only in their baking, but in their cooking as well, there are many typical Swedish meat dishes which are spiced with cardamom.
Kanelbullar were made for the first time in Sweden after the end of World War One, however, for many decades, they were pretty inaccessible for ordinary people. To buy cardamom cinnamon buns in the bakery at that time was expensive and to make them at home was not particularly cheap either.
It was only during the 1950’s as the Swedish economy improved that kanelbulle or kanelbullar became really popular. They are the most popular Swedish pastry nowadays. There is even a festival dedicated to this amazing pastry, the International Day of Kanelbullar started in 1999 and it’s held on October 4th every year.
Just like in the case of yesterday’s Serbian Gibanica – Cheese Pie, which has its own festival in Serbia as well.
HOW TO MAKE KANELBULLAR?
Well, it is all about the yeast-leavened dough and the rolling. But that’s easy stuff, don’t worry about it.
Fresh or active dry yeast?
- I have made the kanelbullar and other similar rolls or buns many times. Really lots of times! I have made the rolls either using fresh yeast or active dry yeast and, although both are good, I prefer working with fresh yeast.
- However, I remember from the time we used to live in London that fresh yeast is not available everywhere. No idea why, it is such a cheap product (one cube costs 9 cents here). So, if fresh yeast is not available, you can use active dry yeast instead.
- It is the kind of yeast I used to make the Swedish cinnamon buns I photographed and you can see in the pictures that they are nice and fluffy as well. And totally delicious!
- When using fresh yeast, I would normally use a whole cube to make this kanelbullar recipe, which weighs 42 g/ 1.5 oz. If I replace that with active dry yeast, I use two sachets of it, each weighing 7 g/ 0.25 oz.
- Dough made with fresh yeast will need less time to rise, about 30-40 minutes depending on the temperature in your kitchen. The dough for these particular cinnamon rolls made with active dry yeast needed about one hour until the ball of dough had doubled in size.
- Either way, keep an eye on the dough and continue with the recipe as soon as the dough has doubled in size. If you leave the dough for too little time and it doesn’t have enough time to rise, the end product will be rather flat and not fluffy. But if you leave the dough to rise too much is not good either, the dough will lose its power and sink during the baking process. So, leave it until about doubled in size.
Knead the yeast dough:
- You can mix and start kneading the ingredients in the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. I do that with my Thermomix, but any good stand mixer will do.
- I let the machine do most of the kneading, then I turn the dough onto the floured working surface and only knead in as much flour as the dough can take. In the case of this kanelbullar recipe, I measured 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs/ 8 1/3 cups all-purpose flour at the beginning, but ended up using about 930 g/ 2 lbs of it, the dough was then perfect, it was elastic and would not stick to the hands anymore.
- Use a little more flour if the dough keeps sticking to your hands, but just little by little, to make sure that you don’t add too much.
Let the dough rise:
- After kneading the dough, place it into a large bowl and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size. As mentioned above, dough made with fresh yeast will probably need between 30 and 40 minutes, while dough made with active dry yeast will need about one hour. Keep checking.
Form the kanelbullar:
- When the dough has risen, punch it down, knead if very shortly again and divide it into three equal parts.
- Lightly flour the working surface and roll one dough ball into a large rectangle, about 35×45 cm/ 14×17 inches.
- Divide the soft butter into three parts as well and smear the rolled rectangle with 1/3 of the butter.
- Sprinkle it generously with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Roll the dough starting at the smaller end and cut it into 3-4 cm/1.2-1.6 inches thick pieces. Place the Swedish cinnamon buns onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. You will need two baking trays for this amount of cinnamon buns.
- Cover the trays with clean kitchen towels and let the buns rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes (probably a bit longer when using active dry yeast) or until doubled in size.
- Beat the egg and the milk in small bowl. Brush the cinnamon buns with the mixture and sprinkle them with some pearl/nib sugar.
How to bake the Swedish cinnamon rolls?
- In the meantime, preheat the oven and bake the cinnamon buns, one tray after another, for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
- To make sure that the cinnamon buns are cooked through, I always take one and break it in the middle to see how it looks on the inside.
- Let the kanelbullar cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm or cold.
Can you freeze and reheat the cinnamon buns?
- If you have too many cinnamon buns, when cold, cover them well and place them in the fridge.
- To serve them the next day, you can reheat them in the oven, they will be just as soft and lovely as the day before.
- The cold cinnamon buns or kanelbullar can be frozen as well, slightly defrosted and reheated in the oven as mentioned above.
MORE RECIPES WITH YEAST?
PIN IT FOR LATER!
- Yeast dough:
- 150 g/ 5.3 oz/ scant 2/3 cup unsalted butter
- 500 ml/ 17 fl.oz/ 2 cups milk
- 42 g/ 1.5 oz/ 1 cube fresh yeast OR 14 g/ 0.5 oz/ 2 sachets active dry yeast
- 150 g/ 5.3 oz/ ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 kg/ 2.2 lbs/ 8 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, a bit more or less as needed
- Cinnamon filling and topping:
- 75 g/ 2.6 oz/ 1/3 cup soft unsalted butter
- 130 g/ 4.6 oz/ 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- some pearl/ nib sugar
- Melt the butter and pour it in a large bowl or in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Add the milk (room temperature) and stir well.
- Sprinkle the crumbled fresh yeast or the active dry yeast on top and stir a few times until the yeast is dissolved.
- Add the granulated sugar, salt, cardamom and 500 g/ 1.1 lbs/ 4 cups of the flour. Mix well. Add almost all of the remaining flour, leaving 100 g/ 3.5 oz/ ¾ cup flour aside. Knead the dough well.
- Turn the dough onto the working surface. Start adding the remaining flour about 1 tablespoon at a time, kneading the dough with your hands until it is elastic and doesn't stick to your hands anymore. You might not need to add all the flour, stop when the dough feels as described above. If the dough is still very sticky after adding all the flour, you can add a little more flour, but always only a little at a time.
- If you are making the dough without a machine, add almost all the flour from the beginning, leaving the above mentioned 100 g/ 3.5 oz/ ¾ cup flour aside.
- Knead the dough with your hands adding the remaining flour little by little until the dough is elastic and doesn't stick to your hands anymore.
- Place the dough into a large bowl, cover it with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 30-40 minutes if you use fresh yeast and about 1 hour if you use dried yeast. But keep checking after the first 30 minutes or so.
- When the dough has risen, punch it down, knead if very shortly again and divide it into three equal parts.
- Lightly flour the working surface and roll one dough ball into a large rectangle, about 35x45 cm/ 14x17 inches.
- Divide the soft butter into three parts as well and smear the rolled rectangle with 1/3 of the butter. Sprinkle it generously with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
- Roll the dough starting at the smaller end and cut it into 3-4 cm/1.2-1.6 inches thick pieces. Place the cinnamon snails on baking trays lined with baking paper.
- Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. You will need two lined baking trays for this amount of cinnamon buns, you will have between 35-40 cinnamon rolls.
- Cover the trays with clean kitchen towels and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius/ 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Beat together the egg and the milk in a small bowl. Brush the cinnamon buns with the mixture and sprinkle them with some pearl/nib sugar.
- Bake the kanelbullar, one tray after another, for about 10 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through. To make sure that the cinnamon rolls are cooked through, I always take one and break it in the middle to see how it looks on the inside. It should look fluffy and not wet.
- Let the cinnamon rolls cool slightly on a wire rack and serve warm or cold. The cinnamon buns can be reheated in the oven.
- They can be frozen as well, then slightly defrosted and reheated in the oven.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 40 Serving Size: 1 bun
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 170Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 18mgSodium: 98mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 1gSugar: 7gProtein: 3g
Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.