Around the World in 80 Bakes: Kanelbullar

I first came across these sticky cinnamon indulgences back in 2008 on a long weekend to Sweden to watch the World Rally Championship. Not only did that weekend see Jari-Matti Latvala’s first win in WRC, but also, my first taste of kanelbullar – two milestone moments, you will doubtless agree! One of my favourite treats to bake (and devour), the heady aroma of cardamom will transform your kitchen into a temple dedicated to all things Scandi! Double or triple the quantities to make as huge a batch as you so desire – and, if you can avoid scoffing the lot, they freeze really well – just defrost and pop them in a medium oven for 5 mins to zhuzh them back to fresh-from-the-oven fabulousness!

For the dough:

  • 500g plain flour
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of dried yeast
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom seeds (discard the pod cases)
  • pinch of salt
  • 250ml lukewarm milk (I use oat milk; but cow, almond, even yeti milk, will do just fine)
  • 75g melted (and cooled) butter or margarine
  • 1 small egg, beaten

For the filling:

  • 100g soft butter or margarine
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g soft brown sugar (either light or dark will do, whatever you have in your store cupboard)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

To decorate:

  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • a handful of pearl sugar (never been able to buy these nibs of sugar in the UK, it’s a continental thing – you can DIY it by bashing up some sugar cubes in a sealed freezer bag with a rolling pin!)
  • 2 tablespoons of golden syrup
  1. To make the dough, start by activating the yeast: in a small mixing bowl, stir the yeast into the warm milk, cover and leave somewhere warm for 20 mins until it’s bubbled up. In the meantime, tip all but a couple of tablespoons of the flour into another bowl with the ground cardamom and salt, and combine.
  2. Once your yeast mixture is nice and bubbly, stir in the melted butter and then the caster sugar, and then tip into the bowl of a stand mixer (with dough hook fitted). Start it up at a slow-mid speed, add the flour/cardamom mixture gradually; and finally add the beaten egg. Leave it kneading for about 20 minutes until the dough is stretchy, silky and doesn’t stick to your fingers or the sides of the bowl (if you need to add more flour to make the dough less sticky, go for it, but don’t overdo it).
  3. Now, let the dough prove. Cover it and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour, until it has doubled in size.
  4. While the magic is happening with the dough, it’s time to make the filling. This is a doddle. Just whack all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix until you have a creamy paste. At this point, you can have a cup of tea, do a crossword, do the laundry, dig a pond in the garden… or you could always get your baking sheets prepared, lining them with greaseproof paper.
  5. When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured worktop and knock it back. Knead it with your hands to get the elasticky feel and then roll it out into a rectangular shape, roughly 50cm by 40cm, widest side nearest to you. Spread the filling mixture all over the dough in an even layer.
  6. Now, be brave! Roll the dough towards you… I’m not gonna lie, it’ll be messy and squelchy and oozy… but who doesn’t want to be covered in lickable cinnamon butter?!? Keep the rolling as tight as you can without losing too much filling. It will get even messier now… using a sharp knife (non-serrated works best) cut your buns off the roll, they should each be about an inch thick – the quantities above will make 16.
  7. Set your buns, evenly spaced, onto your prepared baking sheets; cover and leave to prove again for about half an hour.
  8. Preheat your oven to 200°C (mine is a fan oven – 200 equates to about 220°C non-fan or 425°F, but you will know how your own oven works better than me!). Give the buns a gentle brush with the beaten egg before popping them in the oven. They should take about 15 mins to bake, but, again, ovens all (mis)behave differently – keep an eye on them and gauge for yourself. They’re done when the dough is golden and the filling is bubbling slightly.
  9. Once they’re out, leave them on the baking sheet while you quickly heat the golden syrup in a small saucepan to a loose consistency. Gently brush each bun with a little syrup to give them a glorious glaze and sprinkle with the sugar nibs.
  10. Eat them while they’re warm with a cuppa, and just revel in those Scandi vibes!