“They taste just like grandma’s!”
If you are not familiar with Swedish culture, the first thing you should know about is fika, which is a social break accompanied by sweet treats and a cup of coffee or two. It can be in the morning, afternoon, or evening.
The most common and classic sweet treat for fika is kanelbullar, a local version of cinnamon buns that is often baked with a touch of cardamom. Unlike the American version, kanelbullar is never finished with icing. The most classic preparation has pearl sugar on top.
Besides kanelbullar, Sweden has many other kinds of popular treats, such as assorted cookies (kakor), chocolate balls coated with shredded coconut (chokladbollar), and marzipan rolls (punschrulle). So when you visit Sweden, you will need to enjoy manyfikasin order to try them all!
I have tried several different fika recipes in the past, and this one so far is the winner. I have boosted the amount of butter in the dough to make it even softer. They’ve even been certified by my Swedish in-laws, who report that, “They taste just like grandma’s!”
Makes 12 buns
For the buns
3 cups all-purpose flour
50 g caster sugar
½ tsp freshly ground cardamom
2¼ tsp instant yeast
240 ml warm milk (Vegan option: Unsweetened soy milk)
65 g unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled (Vegan option: Plant butter)
½ tsp salt
For cinnamon sugar filling
70 g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature (Vegan option: Plant butter)
60 g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
To finish the buns
1 egg, beaten with 1 tbsp water, for egg wash (Vegan option: 2 tbsp unsweetened soy milk + 1 tsp maple syrup)
For the dough
In a standing mixer, use a spatula to combine flour, caster sugar, ground cardamom, and yeast.
With dough hook attachment, add milk and melted butter to flour mixture and mix on low speed until dough comes together, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape flour from sides of bowl to make sure everything is well combined. Then add salt and continue mixing for another 8-10 minutes at medium speed, until dough is soft and elastic and doesn’t stick to sides of bowl.
Brushsides of large bowl with oil, add dough, cover with a damp cloth, and let sit in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
For cinnamon sugar filling
In a small bowl, combine soft butter, sugar, and cinnamon until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
Note: if you are working in a warm kitchen, keep the cinnamon sugar mixture in a cool place so that it will be easier to spread later.
Shaping the dough
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into 35 cm x 35 cm square. Spread cinnamon sugar mixture evenly onto entire surface, making sure layer is thin so that filling isn’t squeezed out during twisting phase.
Fold rectangle into thirds like a business letter, then roll it out into a rough 35 cm x 20 cm piece.
Note: If you want to make smaller buns, roll the dough out a bit longer.
Facing long edge, cut folded dough into roughly 2 cm x 20 cm strips. Twist each strip several times, slightly stretching as you twist. Grab one end of twisted strip and coil dough around your hand once or twice, depending on your preferred bun size, then over the top. Coil dough again and tuck loose end in at bottom.
Arrange buns on baking sheet lined with parchment paper, keeping at least 2 cm of space between buns. Cover with a damp cloth and let them rest again for about 45 minutes, or until they have doubled in size.
Preheat oven with fan assist to 180℃.
Brush buns with egg wash, sprinkle with pearl sugar, and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow buns to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Leftover buns can be frozen for up to 2 months. Reheat in microwave, straight from the freezer, for 30-60 seconds.