Lingering over a delicious cup of coffee is a vital part of Swedish culture, where the coffee break has been elevated to an art form. Of course, no coffee break (known as fika in Sweden) would be complete without the classic Swedish sweet pastry, the kanelbullar, or cinnamon bun.
Whether you are out at a café or the guest in a Swedish home, you are expected to slow down and enjoy your coffee with a sweet pastry, cookie, or cake. A cinnamon bun is the traditional accompaniment. Developed to appeal to the well-known Swedish sweet tooth, it remains a popular choice today.
The Swedish version of the cinnamon bun combines a cardamom-spiced dough with a sweet cinnamon filling. Unlike the American version, cinnamon buns in Sweden aren’t iced. Instead, they are topped with crunchy pearl sugar. You can also add slivers of almond if that is to your taste.
Ready to make some delicious Swedish cinnamon buns to accompany your fika at home? This simple recipe results in a soft, spiced bun that is a perfect pairing for your cup of coffee.
For the dough:
1 ¼ cups (300 ml) milk ¼ cup (60 ml) room-temperature butter ½ tsp salt 1 tsp freshly ground cardamom (approximately the seeds from 12 cardamon pods) 1 pack of instant yeast (2 level tsp or 7 grams) ½ cup (100 grams) soft brown sugar 3 ½ cups (475 grams) all-purpose flour or white bread flour A neutral-flavored oil, for kneading
For the filling:
½ cup (100 grams) granulated sugar 1 tbsp cinnamon 2 ½ tbsp softened butter
For the topping:
1 egg 1 tbsp water Pearl sugar – substitute granulated sugar if you can’t find pearl sugar Toasted almonds (optional)
Start by assembling all your ingredients. If necessary, you can use pre-ground cardamom, but the recipe is best when you grind it fresh in a pestle and mortar or electric spice grinder.
Pour your milk into a large saucepan and place it over a medium heat. When you start to see small bubbles appear, remove the pan from the heat and mix in the butter to melt it.
Add the sugar, salt, and ground cardamom. Set the mixture aside to cool. You want it to get to the point where it is still warm, but cool enough that you can place your (clean) finger in it without it being too hot to touch.
Add your yeast. If you can’t find instant yeast and are using dry active yeast instead, set the mixture aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast.
Slowly add the flour, ½ a cup at a time. Stir in between until you have a soft dough that is dry enough to knead.
Lightly oil your kneading surface and your hands with a neutral-tasting cooking oil, such as sunflower oil. Then tip the dough out and knead it for around 10 minutes, until you have a smooth, elastic dough.
Put the dough back in the pan, cover it with a clean cloth, and leave it to rise. It should take around an hour to double in size.
Remove the dough from your pan and lightly knead it until the air is all knocked out. Then take a rolling pin and roll it out into a large rectangle. You want to aim for a thickness of about half a centimeter.
Take your softened butter and spread it over the dough. Mix the cinnamon and granulated sugar together and sprinkle it evenly over the butter.
Roll the dough up lengthways to make a long tube. Cut this into slices – it should make approximately 20 cinnamon buns.
Place each slice inside a paper cupcake wrapper and put them on a baking sheet. Cover the sheet with a clean cloth and allow the buns to rise for another 45 minutes.
About 15 minutes before the buns have finished their second rise, turn on your oven and preheat it to 425˚F (220˚C).
When the buns have finished rising, beat the egg and water together to form an egg wash and paint this over the top of the buns. Sprinkle them with pearl sugar and the sliced almonds if you are using them.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until they are golden brown.
Remove the buns from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Then, they are ready to enjoy along with your favorite cup of coffee.