The best cinnamon buns – kanelbullar
Here’s my recipe for the best ever Swedish cinnamon buns called kanelbullar, which we sell in ScandiKitchen every day and I’ve made on the telly a couple of times. Fresh yeast isn’t easy to get hold of in the UK – we sell it online along with a cinnamon bun bundle which contains all the essential ingredients, but I’ve included measurements for powdered yeast which you can pick up easily in the supermarket. Ideally, you need a food processor with a dough hook – otherwise, you’ve got a lot of arm work to do!
For the basic dough:
- 25g (1oz) fresh yeast OR 13g (just under ½oz) dried yeast (read the first point of the method carefully for what to do)
- 250ml (1 cup) whole milk, heated to 36-37ºC (97-99ºF)
- 80g (¾ stick) butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 40g (3 tbsp) caster sugar (granulated will be OK though)
- 400-500g (3 – 3⅔ cups) strong white bread flour
- 2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 egg, beaten
For the filling:
- 80g (¾ stick) butter
- 1 tsp plain flour
- 1-2 tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- ½ vanilla sugar
- 80g (6½ tbsp) caster sugar (or half caster + half soft brown sugar if you prefer)
- Egg, beaten for brushing
Cream all the filling ingredients together until smooth, then set aside while you make the dough.
How to make the buns:
- If you’re using fresh yeast, add the warm milk to a mixing bowl and stir in the yeast until it’s dissolved. Alternatively, if you’re using dried yeast, sprinkle it into the warm milk and whisk together. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about 15 minutes to become bubbly.
- Pour the yeast-milk mixture into a food processor with a dough hook attachment. Start the machine and add the cooled, melted butter. Allow everything to combine for a minute or so, then add the sugar. Leave to combine for another minute.
- In a bowl, weigh out 400g (3 cups) of the flour, add the cardamom and salt and mix together. Then start adding the flour and spices into the milk mixture, bit by bit. Add half the beaten egg. Keep kneading for 5 minutes. You may need to add more flour as you want the mixture to end up a bit sticky, but not so much that it sticks to your finger if you poke it. It is better not to add too much flour at once as this will result in dry buns. You can always add more later.
- Once mixed, leave the dough in the processor bowl and cover with a dish towel or clingfilm. Allow to rise for around 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
- Once risen, dust a table top with flour and turn out the dough. Using your hands, knead the dough and work in more flour if needed. Then, using a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 40x50cm (16x20in) rectangle.
- Spread the filling across the dough in an even, thin layer, using a spatula or similar tool for spreading.
Now you have to decide if you want to twist or roll your buns.
- To make traditional rolled swirls, simply roll up the dough lengthways as if you were making a long Swiss roll, and then cut into 15-16 equal pieces. Place them on a lined baking tray, cover and leave to rise for about 20 minutes.
- If you want to try twisting your dough, it’s very easy but I think this video I made will explain it a lot better than trying to put it into words!
- If twisting, leave each twist on a lined baking tray to rise for about 20 minutes.
- Heat your oven to 200ºC if it’s a fan oven. That is 220ºC (425ºF) for a conventional oven, or gas mark 7.
- Brush the buns lightly with beaten egg, then bake for around 6-9 minutes or until they look golden.
If you want to give your buns a similar look to the ones I’ve done in the video, it’s not tricky at all.
- Make a simple sugar syrup by heating 50ml water with 100g sugar until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is bubbling.
- When the buns are out of the oven, brush them lightly with the syrup then sprinkle pearl sugar on top of each bun and cover with a damp tea towel (which will stop them drying out too soon). If you can’t get hold of pearl sugar, chopped hazelnuts also work well.