And then there are kanelbullar which are probably one of the best invention of humanity besides the invention of the bicycle. I might be in a tartlet phase or in a financier phase but I am always in a kanelbullar phase. I never get tired of making and eating kanelbullar. I make kanelbullar at least twice a month.
Kanelbullar - kanel means cinnamon and bulle (bullar is plural) means bun in Swedish - are one of the most popular pastries in Sweden. I do not know anyone who does not like a bulle and every single bakery, grocery store, café or the smallest train station kiosk sell kanelbullar (and coffee as well). It is a staple food.
A while ago I escaped the city life and I travelled to Sweden and visited Alingsås which is the hometown of my mom and my uncle is still living there. It is a little picturesque city - half an hour from Gothenburg - with beautiful little wood houses, little cute cafés and the city is surrounded by the most beautiful nature. Whenever I travel to Sweden I am most of the time outdoors. I hop on a bike and cycle to one of the countless lakes that the city is surrounded by, breath the fresh and clean air, read Swedish (cook)books that I borrow from the local library, snacking on a kanelbulle or a wienerbröd (Danish pastry) and soak in the beauty of the nature and the silence. I am surrounded by no noise of cars, no human being far and wide but instead I listen to the rustling of tree leaves in the wind and the chirping of birds.
While I was in Sweden one morning I got up very early and decided to stroll around the city. It was early in the morning and the city was completely empty. While walking through the little cobblestone alleys I did not meet a single person. I was soaking in the calmness and looking at all the beautiful wood houses. And then all of a sudden it happened: I was surrounded by the irresistible smell of cinnamon and cardamon. Obviously the Café Ringen (see the photo above) around the corner was making kanelbullar.
On my way home to my uncle's house I reflected on the power of smell. It is amazing how closely smell is connected to memories, experiences or childhood. Strolling around the city early in the morning and smell of cinnamon and cardamon from the café are one those moments that I cherish a lot.
This is the entrance of the rådhus (city hall). Fun fact: The wife of the opera composer Donizetti Viginia Vasselli was a guest in Alingsås and she stayed a few nights at the rådhuset.
On that day I could not resist and made a batch of kanelbullar for my uncle. And there again was this incredible smell of cinnamon and cardamon in the air and it made my uncle's kitchen smell heavenly. My uncle freezed a few bullar and gave some of my kanelbullar to an acquaintance who really liked my kanelbullar. Hearing this made me, of course, very happy.
Over the years I have perfeced (at least I think so) my kanelbullar skills and I am very pleased how my bullar turn out every single time I make a batch.
I think it is time to share my Swedish cinnamon bun recipe with you dear readers!
Makes 15 kanelbullar
- 75 g unsalted butter
- 250 ml whole milk
- 30 g fresh yeast
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 75 g granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
- 325-350 g all-purpose flour
- 75 g unsalted butter (softened)
- 75 g granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
- 1 egg (small)
- Pearl sugar
- Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add milk to the melted butter. The mixture should be lukewarm. It is really important that the mixture is lukewarm because the yeast does not like cold and too hot ingredients. :-)
- Crumble the yeast into a big bowl. Add a little bit of the butter milk mixture – about 2 tablespoons – to the yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the rest of the milk mixture, salt, sugar, cardamom and mix well, Then add most of the flour and mix with a wooden spoon. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and knead the dough until smooth. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour.
- Place the dough in a big bowl and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm and draft-free place for 30 minutes or until the dough is doubled in size. I always place my bowl in a oven (I switch the oven to 45 °C) and let it rise there.
- In the meantime combine softened butter, sugar and cinnamon and mix until it looks like a paste.
- Place the dough onto a well-floured surface and roll out the dough into a square (45cm x 45 cm). Spread the butter paste onto the square evenly and roll it into a tight roll.
- Cut the roll into 15 pieces (each piece should be 3 cm thick). Place the rolls onto two baking sheets. Make sure that there is enough space between each bun.
- Cover the baking sheets with kitchen towels and let the buns rise in a warm and draft-free place (I place the baking sheets again in the oven and let kanelbullar rise at 45 °C) for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 225 °C.
- Beat the egg with a teaspoon of lukewarm water. Brush the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake for 6 to 7 minutes until the rolls are golden in color. The kanelbullar brown quickly, so make sure you are in the kitchen while the bullar bake in the oven.
- The bullar taste best fresh out of the oven but you can freeze them as well.