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Cinnamon buns (recipe)


Kanelbullar are Sweden’s most popular buns! They are sold by every supermarket, bakery and cafe right across Sweden. In my travels I have tasted hundreds, so I can promise you that I have not tasted a better cinnamon bun anywhere! Sure some have been equally good, but none better! The dough is light and buttery and the filling is sweet and delicately spiced. They really are Swedelicious! John Duxbury



The key to light buns is to add soft butter to the dough very gradually during step 3 and to add as little flour as possibly during step 4.

This recipe below produces a lovely buttery dough. However, if you prefer a firmer/breadier dough, such as used for kardamummabullar (cardamom buns), reduce the amount of flour to 420 grams, replace half the milk with water, omit the egg and reduce the amount of butter to 75 grams.

The filling and glaze is even more a matter of personal taste. Some prefer twice as much cinnamon and others prefer to leave the buns unglazed. (If you don’t glaze the buns, sprinkle them with pearl sugar before baking them.) 

• Most supermarkets only stock cardamom pods, so you will probably need to grind your own: lightly crush the pods to remove the seeds and then grind the seeds for 3 or 4 minutes.

Making these buns without a standmixer can get very messy because of all the soft butter, so if you are making the dough by hand I recommend melting the butter, adding it along with the milk in step 2, skipping step 3 and increasing the kneading time to 10 minutes in step 4.

• Swedes normally use fesh yeast, but this recipe is based on using “instant” fast action yeast as it is more readily available and on blind-tests most people can’t tell the difference.

If you would prefer to use fresh yeast, simply warm the  milk to 35-37°C (95-98°F), crumble in 25 grams of fresh yeast, whisk together, lightly cover and leave somewhere warm for about 15 minutes until bubbly. Add to the spiced flour in step 2.

• Pearl sugar, sometimes called sugar nibs, can be bought online or in specialist shops. If you can’t find any you can use demerara sugar (light brown cane sugar) instead. Alternatively, use almond flakes (slivers).
• The rolls freeze well and are wonderful reheated for a leisurely breakfast (5 minutes in warm oven if already defrosted, 10 minutes from frozen).

Stage 1: Making the dough

1. Add the flour, sugar, dried yeast and ground cardamom to the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix thoroughly, then stir in the salt.

2. Add the milk and whisked egg to a pan and heat gently until lukewarm, 35-40ºC (95-105ºF). Add to the spiced flour and mix to form a rough dough.

3. On speed 2 (kMix) or 3 (KitchenAid), slowly add the softened butter, a cube at a time, taking 2 or 3 minutes to add all the butter.

4. Continue to knead on speed 2 or 3, adding additional flour if the dough is too sticky. The idea is to end up with a dough that is sticky to the touch, but does not stick to your hands when you handle it. You may not need to any extra flour, it depends on the flour, but take care to avoid adding too much as your buns will turn out rather dry. Once you have made any adjustment required to the amount of flour, continue to knead on speed 2 or 3 for a further 3 minutes.

5. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a ball. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm (plastic wrap), a shower cap or a cloth and leave in a warm draught-free place until it has doubled in size, about an hour at 24°C (75°F).

Stage 2: Filling and rolling

6. Line two baking trays with parchment paper and set aside. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, flatten into a rough rectangle and then roll out until approximately 50 cm x 40 cm (20″ x 16″).

7. For the filling mix the butter, flour, cinnamon and sugars together and then spread evenly over the dough.

8. Roll the dough up to create a 50 cm (20″) long sausage and then cut into 16 rounds. Place onto the prepared baking trays, keeping them well apart, and cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to rise until almost doubled, about 60 minutes.

9. Preheat the oven to 250ºC (475ºF, gas 9, fan 220ºC) at least 30 minutes before baking the buns.

Stage 3: Baking and glazing

Note: I always glaze cardmom buns, but I don’t usually bother glazing cinnamon rolls – it really is a matter of personal taste.

10. Whisk the egg and milk together, brush the cinnamon rolls with egg wash and then bake for about 8 minutes, until golden brown.*

11. Optional step: meanwhile heat the water, sugar and vanilla paste (optional) to boiling, stirring constantly until all the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool whilst the buns are baking.

12. Optional step: glaze the buns with the sugar syrup, sprinkle with pearl sugar and then cover with a cloth to prevent them drying out.

13. After a few minutes transfer the buns to a cooling rack and recover

*If you don’t intend to glaze the buns, sprinkle on the pearl sugar before baking them.

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