Swedish Cinnamon Buns, aka kanelbullar, are a light breakfast treat full of cinnamon and cardamom flavor.
I’m calling these “Swedish” even though they maybe aren’t technically Swedish. But they’re flavored (in part) with cardamom, which I, forever and always, associate with my Swedish grandfather. All of my happiest memories of growing up smell like cardamom because all of those memories entail baking with my grandma.
Another reason I’m calling them Swedish: I found this recipe in my new very most favorite cookbook ScandiKitchen: Fika and Hygge. While I’m fully aware Scandinavia comprises several countries I’m just going to choose one. And risk offending the rest. (I’m sorry!)
My grandfather was American by birth and adamant about that fact. He was not Swedish. But lucky for me his parents were Swedish and when they came to the States they brought with them recipes for all kinds of delicious Swedish baked goods. . . saffron bread, skorpe, hardtack. And American though he was, Grandpa loved the foods he grew up on.
So when my grandparents married my grandma spent hours in the kitchen watching Maria Louisa, her new mother-in-law, bake, frantically trying to write down amounts and methods. Maria Louisa didn’t actually have written recipes; she kept everything in her head and knew just by looking how much of a given ingredient to add.
Remember when you were a kid and the most exciting thing that could happen, besides a visit from Santa, was a visit from your grandparents? I so wish I could go back to that time. The closest thing I can get today is baking because it reminds me of all the hours I spent in the kitchen with grandma. My sister and I would sit on the counter peeling cardamom pods while grandma mixed the dough for skorpe.
Grandma never, ever used pre-ground cardamom and neither do I and please, please don’t use it either. It has next to no flavor. Buy it in the pods—if your grocery store sells spices in bulk you can just buy the amount you need for a recipe so you don’t end up with a jar of cardamom pods languishing in your cupboard.
Although after you bake these cinnamon buns you might head back to buy a whole jar. You’ll want to make batch after batch of these hunks of doughy deliciousness.
You can probably tell from the photographs that these aren’t frosted. As much as I love frosting on cakes I just can’t take all that sugar on a cinnamon roll. They’re sweet enough for me without gobs of frosting piled on top. So I think these are just perfection. Not too sweet but full of cinnamon and cardamom flavor, with a touch of almond because it goes so beautifully with the spices.
If you need need need frosting on your cinnamon buns/rolls you can absolutely add it. I think cream cheese frosting would go very nicely. Use your favorite recipe. Be sure you let the rolls cool before you frost them, though, or the frosting will melt. You probably knew that already. I’ll just stop talking now.
I had pictures to illustrate how to shape the cinnamon buns but, genius that I am, I accidentally deleted them. All of them. I then used some unfortunate language I’m very sorry for and won’t repeat in this setting. So here’s a link to help you out–scroll down to below the recipe.
Please make these for yourself. Spend just one afternoon in a cardamom-scented kitchen and you’ll understand why I go gaga for the stuff.
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 1 cup whole milk, lukewarm
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 to 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 16 cardamom pods, shelled and ground*
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 9 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 14 cardamom pods, shelled and ground**
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten, for brushing
- 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 3 tablespoons pearl sugar
- Combine milk and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to combine. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until mixture is foamy. Fit mixer with the dough hook.
- Add the melted butter and mix for 1 minute on low speed. Add sugar and mix to combine.
- Combine 3 cups of the flour, cardamom, and salt in a small mixing bowl. With mixer still on low speed slowly add the flour mixture to the milk mixture. Add the egg and vanilla and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes more; dough should have formed a smooth ball. If the dough hasn’t come together completely, slowly add more flour until it does.
- Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 30 minutes.
- In a small mixing bowl combine all filling ingredients except egg. Stir to make a well-combined paste.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, then spray parchment with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead dough for 1 minute. If dough is too sticky to work with knead in additional flour. Roll into a 16 x 20 inch rectangle. Spread filling mixture evenly over dough.
- Fold dough in half lengthwise. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut 16 strips of dough widthwise. Twist each strip several times, then shape into a knot. Be sure ends of the strip are tucked under the bottom of the roll or the rolls might pop open while they bake.
- Place rolls on prepared baking sheets. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush each roll with beaten egg. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until rolls are golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with corn syrup. Sprinkle with pearl sugar and cover with a damp kitchen towel for 3 minutes to prevent them from drying out. Serve and enjoy.
- *If using pre-ground cardamom, use 2 teaspoons.
- **If using pre-ground cardamom, use 1/2 teaspoon.