Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)



for the buns:
1/4 oz active dry yeast (1 packet)
5 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons freshly ground green cardamom*
1 egg
pinch salt

for the filling
1/4 cup butter, softened
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

for the topping:
1/3 cup Swedish pearl sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons water

wide muffin liners**


In the bowl of a standmixer or a large bowl, pour in the yeast. Add 1/4 cup of the milk. Stir.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the butter.Whisk in the milk.

Pour the flour,  sugar, and cardamom into the bowl and whisk. Add the melted butter/milk mixture. Using the dough hook attachment, until a cohesive dough forms, about 10 minutes. Cover and allow to sit 30 minutes.

Arrange 24 liners on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 425.

On a clean, floured surface, roll out the dough into 1/8 inch thick,  approximately 12 inches long, 8-inch wide rectangle. Spread with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Roll into a tight 12-inch long log. Slice into 24 even slices. Place each slice, spiral side up, in a muffin liner. Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Beat together the egg and water. Spread over the top of each risen bun. Sprinkle with pearl sugar.Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool on wire racks.

*Green cardamom is the secret in making authentic tasting Swedish baked goods. It is the whole pod of the cardamom and is very fragrant. I buy mine in Indian grocery stores or online. If unable to locate, use ground regular cardamom.

**I buy mine at Ikea, they are shorter than regular cupcake/muffin liners and about 3 inches wide. They come in a pack with other liners that work well with Swedish goodies like tiny ones to make Knäck (Swedish Toffee). If you can’t find liners, place the buns 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Ikea often has Swedish pearl sugar for sale as well.


My thoughts:

Over the years we’ve gone to a quite a few Swedish celebrations. A lot if you consider that neither of us is Swedish! We’ve been to St Lucia and Midsummer celebrations at the Swedish museum in Philadelphia and several Swedish bazaars during the winter months around Washington DC.

What can I say? We like Swedish food! And  Swedes love baked goods. Go to any event, any time of the year and you will find kanelbullar, the Swedish version of cinnamon rolls. They are insanely popular in Sweden and are often found at fika, the coffee break they take every day. So it is only natural they have a day devoted to the cinnamon rolls, Kanelbullar Dag! Started in 1999, October 4th is celebrated by eating (and making) kanelbullar. The purpose is to celebrate the bun driving sales of dairy, yeast, and sugar. October was chosen because it was far from many of the other Swedish food holidays which celebrate everything from cheesecake , kräftskiva (the crayfish party celebrating the end of summer), to Kåldolmens dag (stuffed cabbage day)   Vårfrudagen (celebrating Swedish waffles). Not to mention all of the very specific traditional foods they have for Christmas (Janssons FrestelseJulköttbullar) , Shrove Tuesday, Midsummer (dill new potatoes), St Lucia and other major and minor holidays and the tradition of having pea soup on Thursdays.

Kanelbullar is a great first Swedish baked good because it is really easy. It takes a while because of the rise time but it is an easy dough to work with and comes together quite quickly. Unlike American-style cinnamon rolls, kanelbullar are made of cardamom flavored dough and topped with pearl sugar vs being drizzled in sticky icing. The result is a less sweet, less messy, slightly more cookie-like cinnamon bun that is great with coffee or tea. Plus they are pretty and impressive looking!

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