Sunday, 13 December 2015

Swedish Cinnamon Buns: Kanelbullar

I don't do an awful lot of baking because I lack the plethora of correctly sized tins that seem to be required, and I guess surprisingly for a scientist, I'm not a fan of follow really detailed, precise instructions outside of the lab. However I do enjoy working with yeast as there is something quite magical about dough rising (plus I work with yeast in the lab so I think of myself as somewhat of an expert on their preferred growing conditions). So at least once a year I set aside an afternoon to make my favourite, easy, baked treat: cinnamon buns - or kanelbullar as they're know in Sweden.

Easy swedish cinnamon buns kanelbullar


The original recipe I used was one from the Scandinavian Kitchen blog, which is where I got the amounts and general method. However I have adapted it slightly based on things I've picked up from other recipes. I will note that on this particular occasion I didn't have a working set of weighing scales so the measurements are all guesswork. Even so they turned out pretty well!

If you do choose to weigh out your ingredients, to make about 36 buns (or like I did, two long loaves for slicing plus 18 buns) you will need:

50g fresh yeast
500ml full fat milk
150g butter
85g caster sugar
1kg bread flour
Half tsp salt
2 tsp cardamom
Half an egg

And for the filling:
150g butter
5 tsp cinnamon
120g sugar
Half an egg

I start by heating my milk in a pan with the butter. I read somewhere that if you heat the milk so it's just about to boil, the proteins denature which makes for softer buns, so this is what I do. You then have to leave the milk to cool right down before adding the yeast (bakers yeast grow best at 30 degrees). I then leave this for at least 15 mins to allow the yeast to start waking up.

Fresh yeast from supermarket

Full fat milk, butter, fresh yeast mix. Cinnamon buns

Meanwhile I begin the laborious task of shelling the cardamom pods because you need the brown seeds from inside. If you give the pods a good bash with a rolling pin it speeds up the process. You then need to gring them up in a pestle and mortar to a powder (or near enough).

Cardamom pods

Flour, sugar, salt, cadamom, cinnamon buns
Next mix the flour (save some for kneading), sugar, salt and cardamom. Gradually add the the yeast/butter/milk mixture along with half an egg. It should come away from the bowl but it will be pretty sticky.

Now if you wish you can put it in a mixer and leave it to knead for 6 minutes. Although I have a mixer I prefer to knead by hand so I know when it's ready. This is when it's no longer sticky and has a slight shine to its surface. It takes about 10 minutes. Then leave it in a floured bowl somewhere nice and warm for about half an hour until it's doubled in size.

Cinnamon bun dough

Knock back the dough quite thoroughly as it's almost impossible to shape when still full of air.

At this point I split my dough in half, and split one of those halves in two. Each of the two quarters I rolled into rectangles roughly 40cm long and 30cm wide. Spread each with a quarter of the butter, right up to the edges, and then sprinkle liberally with a quarter of a blend of sugar and cinnamon.

Cinnamon bun pre roll

Roll the rectangles up like swiss rolls, making them fairly tight so there are a good few layers. At this point you can cut them up into rounds but I chose to cut them most of the way through and then pull each "roll" onto alternating sides to make a pretty loaf.

Cinnamon bun rolls

Cinnamon bun roll loaf

Cinnamon bun roll loaf

With the other half of the dough I again rolled it into a big rectangle, spread with the remaining butter and sugar/cinnamon mix. Then fold the longer side a third of the way over the rest of the rectangle, folding the opposite side over that too, like a letter. Roll this folded rectangle out to flatten it and cut into soldiers. Cut each soldier length-ways about three quarters of the way up, like a pair of legs. Grab the end of each leg and twist like a cheese straw before wrapping one leg around the other and folding it back to make a kind of twisted bun.

Cinnamon twist dough

I foolishly did not take photos of the process but there's a lovely video of it here - worth watching just to see a lovely Swedish husband and wife team.

Now put all your buns and loaves onto baking sheets, allowing for growing room, and leave for another 20mins before brushing with egg and putting them in the oven at 220 degrees for 8 minutes. Watch them carefully, they should go a nice brown colour but they can burn quickly. Your kitchen will smell incredible!

Cinnamon bun loaf

Once out of the oven, quickly transfer to cooling racks and cover with clean tea towels to keep them soft. When cool I drizzle them with plain icing to make them sticky and sweet.

Cinnamon bun loaves

Cinnamon bun twists

The recipe looks massive and daunting but it's actually very easy with two built in breaks to sit down and have a cup of tea. I would definitely recommend giving it a go and if you don't need 36 buns the recipe also works well when halved.

Enjoy your fika!