This traditional Swedish kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) recipe is made with a perfectly soft and chewy cardamom dough, a buttery cinnamon-sugar filling, and twisted into cute little knots.
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 cup (56 grams) unsalted butter
- 3 1/4 cups (405 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons (7 grams) instant-rise yeast
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 egg (whisked together with 1 tablespoon water)
- pearled sugar
- Heat the milk and butter. Combine the milk and 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan*. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring frequently to melt the butter, until the mixture reaches 110°F. (I recommend measuring the temperature with a cooking thermometer, but if you don’t have one, the mixture should be warm but not hot to the touch. If the mixture gets too hot, just wait a few minutes for it to cool.)
- Mix the dough. (See optional stand mixer instructions below.) In a separate large mixing bowl, briefly whisk together the flour, sugar, yeast, ground cardamom and salt until combined. Add the warm milk mixture and stir until the dough begins to form. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and soft.
- First dough rise. Form the dough into a ball, place it in a greased bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm space for 1 hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- Mix the filling. Meanwhile, stir together the filling ingredients in a separate mixing bowl until evenly combined.
- Roll out the dough. Once the dough is ready to go, turn it out onto a large floured work surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 22 x 15-inch (55 x 38-cm) rectangle. Carefully and evenly spread the filling mixture across the entire surface of the dough. Then (as pictured above) fold the left third of the dough in towards the center, and fold the right third of the dough over that towards the center, like you’re folding a business letter. Gently run the rolling pin over the dough to press out any big bubbles. Then roll the dough out a bit more so that it forms a 15 x 8-inch (38 x 20-cm) rectangle.
- Form the buns. Using a pizza cutter, pastry cutter or a knife, slice the dough into even 2 x 20-cm long strips. Take one strip and twist it several times, gently stretching it as you do so until it nearly doubles in length. Grab one end of the twisted strip and loosely wrap the dough around two fingers twice, like a bandage. Then loop the rest of the dough perpendicularly around the dough so that it forms a knot, and tuck the loose end in at the bottom. Transfer the dough to a large parchment-covered baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining dough strips. (Here is a great visual for twisting the dough, or you can watch my step-by-step Instagram tutorial here.)
- Second dough rise. Loosely cover the dough buns with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise for 45-60 minutes.
- Brush and sprinkle. Heat the oven to 375°F. Brush each bun with the egg wash, then sprinkle with a pinch of pearled sugar.
- Bake. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until the rolls reach your desired level of golden brown. (I like mine just very lightly golden, so that they stay super soft.) Transfer to a wire baking sheet and let cool for 5 minutes. Then serve warm and enjoy!! These rolls are best enjoyed the day that they are baked, but see tips below for storage instructions if you have leftovers.
Microwave option: Alternately, you can combine the milk and butter in a microwave-safe bowl or measuring cup. Then microwave the mixture for 1 minute, pausing to give it a good stir to help melt the butter, and then continue heating in 15-second intervals, until the mixture reaches 110°F.
Stand mixer option: If you own a stand mixer, you can mix the dough using the dough attachment on low speed for 8 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and soft. If you find that the dough is sticking to the sides of the bowl, just sprinkle in a bit of extra flour.
Make-ahead option: If you would like to prep the rolls the night before, just follow the recipe until the dough is twisted into knots. Place the knots in a baking sheet or in a baking dish, cover and refrigerate overnight. Then let them rest on the counter for until they reach room temperature (about 60-90 minutes), then bake as directed.
Storage instructions: These rolls are best enjoyed the same day that they are baked. But any leftovers can be stored in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
Source: Adapted from Pretty Simple Sweet.