Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

On October 4th every year, Sweden celebrates Cinnamon Bun Day. To think that an entire nation has a day dedicated to a small sweet dessert shows the importance in their culture.
Every day, Swedes have fika, or their idea of the coffee break. But don’t think it’s just sitting in a drive thru for a grande double shot macchiato. It’s a moment (or two) over the course of the day where everyone stops. They don’t sit in a corner and avoid eye contact, scrolling through social media or emails. They talk to each other over a coffee and something sweet.
In Canada, the closest thing to this idea would be how people sit in doughnut shops over a coffee and doughnut and talk about everything from politics to their life. But in Sweden it’s almost culturally institutionalized. It’s assumed that you stop at least once a day. In Canada, it’s “oh if I have time,” which usually means almost never.
Third wave coffee shops are starting to make this idea more culturally normal. It has a way to go to get North Americans to “slow down,” but it is growing in younger generations, so it may start to carry through into the future.
I know I’m taking that time now. Life’s too short to rush. Take the time to enjoy a Kanelbullar and think Swedish, even if it’s only for a short time each day 🙂

Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)
Recipe type: Dessert
For the Dough:
  • 4 tsp (2 packets) active dry yeast
  • 300mL (1-1/2 cups milk), warmed to 37C/100F)
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) granulated white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 120g (4 oz) butter, melted
  • 750g (1-1/2 lb) spelt flour, sifted (weigh after sifting)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1Tbsp ground cardamom
For the filling:
  • 100g (3-1/2 oz) butter, softened
  • 50g (2 oz) white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
For the Topping:
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • Pearl sugar, as needed (This is very traditional in Sweden)
For the Dough:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the yeast and half of the warm milk. Allow to bloom and bubble for about 10 minutes.
  2. In another large bowl, combine the flour, salt and cardamom. Set aside.
  3. To the bloomed yeast, whisk in the remaining milk and melted butter. Add the egg and whisk to combine. Gradually whisk in the dry ingredients. When the batter stiffens to a soft dough switch to your hands and start to bring the dough together. Tip the dough and any excess flour on to the counter and knead until a smooth dough is achieved.
  4. Place the kneaded dough into a clean, large bowl, cover with a towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
For the Filling:
  1. Combine the sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
To Prepare:
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/425F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Once the dough has risen for 30 minutes, divide it in half (I do this to make it easier to roll. I don't have a big kitchen counter). Roll half of the dough to a thickness of about 3mm (1/8") and 30cm (12") wide. Spread half of the softened butter from the Filling over the rolled surface. Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar. Roll the dough along its length until you get a log. Cut the log into 12 equal pieces. Place each piece, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Cover with a towel and allow to rise for an hour.
  3. Once the buns have risen, beat together the egg and water for the Topping. Brush on each risen bun and sprinkle with pearl sugar. You can sprinkle lightly (like I did) or very liberally. I've seen various levels of coverage from barely any pearl sugar to fully covered. The amount you like is up to you. Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes or until deeply golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Makes 24 buns. Serve with coffee and enjoy!!