Christmas Morning | ‘Kanelbullar’ Swedish Cinnamon Buns From 'The Nordic Baking Book'
The holidays are about traditions, both new and old. Growing up a tradition in my house was on Christmas morning, while we were opening presents, the sweet aroma of my mom’s cinnamon rolls would be making all of our stomachs rumble. I have kept the tradition going and have made various recipes each holiday, the most recent favorite was this recipe from Bon Appetit. But this year, I thought I would pay homage to Scandinavia, an area of the world that I have been fortunate enough to visit twice this year, both Sweden and Finland. We took away a lot from those experiences, but one thing was certain, they know bread and cinnamon laced sweets. For this we turn to Nordic Chef Magnus Nilsson and his new book The Nordic Baking Book, an essential guide to baking recipes like rye bread to cardamom buns—we featured the cookbook in our gift guide. Some might get intimidated by making homemade dough, but if you take it step by step it is very easy and more than worth the effort. This recipe yields almost a brioche dough that is light and fluffy and like most sweet buns are best enjoyed warm. We will definitely be returning to this book to learn new techniques and of course bring a taste of Scandinavia into our home. - Alison Engstrom
A Few Baking Tips
Err on the side of thinner then wider when you are cutting the strips. The dough will rise and traditional Swedish cinnamon buns are not super-sized.
Spread out the filling evenly. When you twist the rolls, some of the filling will spill out. Spreading an even layer is key here. Nilsson recommends baking them in paper liners to prevent the filling from spilling out over the pan. We didn’t use the liners and the filling did spread out, but not to disastrous results.
Traditional Swedish buns have pearl sugar on top, we opted to sprinkle with turbinado instead.
‘Kanelbullar’ Swedish Cinnamon Rolls
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups whole milk
1 packet instant yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups flour, plus more for rolling
1 3/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
1/2 cup light or dark brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
About 1 tablespoon of milk*
Sanding sugar, like pearl sugar
Special Equipment: Candy Thermometer
Directions: In a sauce pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add milk and using a thermometer, heat until it reaches 98 degrees—if you don’t have a thermometer, heat until milk is warm to the touch. Remove from heat and pour liquid into a large bowl fitted for a mixer with a dough hook. Add yeast, whisk together and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes until it starts to foam. Add salt, sugar and 1/2 cup of flour at a time until incorporated. Beat for about ten minutes until the dough begins to come away from the edge of the bowl. Cover with a clean towel and let rise for 30 to 40 minutes in a non-drafty environment.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile make the filing. Place the butter into a mixing bowl, beat until whipped with a spatula. Add cinnamon and sugar and mix to combine. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
Once dough has risen, generously flour a working surface. Turn dough out onto surface. Roll dough into a15x23 rectangle.Spread half of filling onto dough leaving about a 1 inch border. Fold the empty dough over the filling towards you. Cut dough into 20 strips, about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick. Twist dough (see image three for reference) then holding both ends of the dough in two hands, wrap the dough around your finger (the book says ‘Imagine like you are making a ball of yarn’) tucking the end underneath. Repeat with remaining dough and place them onto baking sheet, diving the rolls between the two baking sheets, leaving ample space between each. At this point, the buns can be frozen*. Wrap in parchment or foil and freeze until ready to use. If not freezing, cover buns with a clean towel and let rise another 20 to 30 minutes.
To prepare the egg wash, place one egg into a medium bowl, reserving half of the cracked shell. Beat with a whisk. Pour milk into half of reserved egg shell and continue to beat until smooth. Generously brush the entire roll with the wash. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden. Serve warm.
Recipe slightly adapted from The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson
*If you are freezing the dough, allow to thaw completely at room temperature. Follow remaining steps.
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Photography by Alison Engstrom