Kanelbullar: Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Even if you don’t have memories of a Swedish konditori, cinnamon buns have a nostalgic effect, and they make your whole house smell delicious.
By Kelsey Hilts
Kanelbullar: Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Behind every food and every meal there is a story, a memory, a connection.

“…When my father’s family bought my mother’s family’s four-level home, they leased out the basement level to a baker, and ran the konditori on street level. As a 6-year-old living with my grandparents {in Sweden}, I woke to the smells of lovely yeast breads…and during Lent, fresh semlor on our Tuesday morning breakfast table were baked downstairs while we slept. With the train station, secondary school, and hockey rink nearby, as well as a street of shops, the konditori attracted townsfolk for fresh baked goods including specialties like buttery weinerbröd, kanelbullar, and princesstårta… Here students from the high school and townspeople met for coffee and pastry…”

Our dear Swedish family friend recounts living as a 6-year-old with her grandparents in a small Swedish town. Her grandparents lived above the family-run konditori so she woke to the smell of Kanelbullar {Swedish Cinnamon Buns} and other pastries. Her stories ignite memories of my own as I remember the sweet, intoxicating smell of our house when my mom baked breads and cinnamon rolls.

Through my opportunity with Honest Cooking and the NORTH Nordic Food Festival in New York City, I became so overwhelmed by all of the inspiring Swedish foods. How to pick just one recipe when each dish has a story to tell? I initially made pytt i panna, drawn to the comfort food with the goal of cleaning out the fridge because that is a goal that I (and people all over the world) can relate to. But I couldn’t stop there. I was inspired by kanelbullar because similar to pytt i panna, it is an iconic Swedish food that many people seem to connect with. The cinnamon buns trigger nostalgia and memories. And as I remembered my mom’s cinnamon rolls, I wanted to compare them to the Swedish version.

The Swedish buns are not iced nor as sweet and gooey as the American counterpart. They make the perfect accompaniment for your cup of coffee or tea. Fika, the traditional Swedish coffee break, is still an active tradition in Sweden. If you are alone, at work or with family or friends, it is custom to take a moment with your coffee and cinnamon bun or other sweet. October 4th is Kanelbullens Dag {Cinnamon Bun Day}. Even if you are not Swedish, take the opportunity to pause from your hectic daily life, have a cup of tea or coffee, and enjoy a cinnamon roll.

The smell of warm, intoxicating cinnamon enveloped our kitchen and entire home the day that I made kanelbullar. My son opened the front door returning from preschool and at first smell, ran into the kitchen to find the buns. Maybe one day he will tell his kids and grandkids about the smell of his home when his mom was baking cinnamon buns.

Kanelbullar: Swedish Cinnamon Buns
 
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
 
Even if you don't have memories of a Swedish konditori, cinnamon buns have a nostalgic effect, and they make your whole house smell delicious.
Author:
Recipe Type: Baking
Serves: about 40 cinnamon buns
Ingredients
Cinnamon Bun Dough
  • 25 g yeast
  • 50 g butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • ½ cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 cups flour
  • 2 tsp cardamom, optional
Filling
  • 50 g butter, softened
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
Glaze
  • 1 egg
  • Pearl sugar and/or slivered almonds
Instructions
Cinnamon Bun Dough
  1. Melt the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the milk and heat until just hot to the touch (98F/37C).
  3. Pour about half of the hot butter-milk over the yeast in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Stir gently and let rest for 5 minutes until the yeast dissolves.
  5. Then add the remaining butter-milk, salt, sugar, cardamom and 7+ cups of flour, mixing well until the dough can be handled.
  6. Knead the dough, cover the ball with a towel, and let it rise for 30 minutes.
  7. Cut the dough in half and form each ball into a rectangle roughly 15×20 inches.
  8. Spread half of the filling over one rectangle and the other half over the other.
  9. Roll the dough up lengthwise to form a long spiral roll.
  10. Cut each roll into roughly 24 (less than 1 inch-wide) pieces.
  11. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or in individual muffin liners placed on a baking sheet (roughly 12 to a pan).
  12. Cover them with a towel and let rise another 30 minutes.
  13. Brush the buns with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar and/or slivered almonds.
  14. Bake the buns at 475 degrees for 5-8 minutes or until lightly golden.
  15. Store the cooled buns in a sealed container because they dry out quickly.
  16. They can also be frozen.
Filling
  1. Stir the cinnamon and sugar into the butter to form a mixture with a smooth spreading consistency.
  2. Spread the filling over the rectangles of pastry dough.
Kelsey Hilts

Kelsey Hilts

Kelsey Hilts is the founder of Itsy Bitsy Foodies, an online resource for families looking for ways to spend more time together enjoying food and exploring the world beyond the children’s menu.

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1 Comment
  1. Nice. I have a recipe for this that I finally after years made this past Christmas. It also make a cardamom bread. Since the review made so much I was able to make two of each. My mother who was here and has a local woman who makes the a cardamom bread and bus it every year, said mine was much better. This is now one is my Christmas breads, but I think I naught begin making it for any old time. Thanks for sharing the stories, as my Swedish ancestors came over to the us 6 generations ago and I don’t have a personal connection.

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