[My ultimate kanelbullar, not unlike cinnamon brioches]
Tomorrow is the 4th of October. A date that doesn’t go unnoticed in Sweden. Yes, tomorrow is kanelbullens dag [cinnamon roll day].
I must have felt that this post – which I promised to share with you long before I even knew kanelbullar had their own day – was waiting in my drafts for a reason.
This is a recipe I first made in Åsen, the summer before last. I kneaded the dough in the evening, as we came back from a day by the lake. And by the time breakfast was ready the next morning, the buns had proofed and were ready to go in the oven for a mid-morning fika.
Later that day, I realised we’d forgotten my camera charger in Kusmark so I ended up taking some pictures using the film camera Kalle gave me.
We rushed on the road to Mora – through the forests and the bridge that goes over the lake, through the little stress I’ve come to cherish and the rails by which we always get to see a train pass by – to bring the roll to the only lab we knew of.
And because it was not fully exposed, I quickly took a few pictures of what was around me. In fact, the one below – of Kalle – is, to this day, one of my favourites.
Yes, it’s not without a certain sense of both love and reserve that I’m proud to tell you that my 79th roll of film has pictures of bullar, one of K., one of the sky, and one of flowers. The dream roll?
But let go back to that morning. When I rolled the dough and topped it with a thick layer of cinnamon butter. I don’t always say this, but salted butter really does wonder here.
Yes, that morning, is to be forever remembered. The table covered in a thick layer of white paint. And the blue chairs around it. The spitting sound of the fire in the wood stove. This is where I learnt how to roll kanelbullar.
A year has passed since then – days made of snow and walk through leafless trees, a spring that only lasted a second and a summer that is now starting to turn into autumn. Many more bullar have been rolled. At home. At the café.
And while my rolling techniques have definitely improved, the recipe has received only a few tweaks. That’s how much I’m in love with it. And I hope you will be too.
Kanelbullar, un peu comme des brioches
I love my bullar to be soft and fluffy, so instead of using a traditional recipe (which I always find slightly dry), I go for a cross between a doughnut and a brioche dough.
Although I’ve shared a recipe for kanelbullar in the past, these ones are different. They are my favourites. The ones I make at home and freeze into small plastic containers, ready to be thrown into a lunchbox or popped in the microwave for an almost-instant fika. The ones I make everyday at the café too (when I’m not off – and for the first time in a long time, I shall say: YES to the weekends).
The other ones were of the spur-of-the-moment kind. Made late, during our last night in Sweden the first time we visited. Eaten by Byske river, just a few hours before our flight back to London. They had whole wheat flour and I remember how long it took to develop the gluten by hand.
I also remember how wonderful it was to unwrap the not-so-neatly folded foil and dip them into a forever-hot cup of kokkaffe.
Making a sticky dough by hand is always a challenge; it takes time, a good scraper and hands being cleaned every so often. But trust me, I’ve done it many times and it doesn’t only produce beautiful results, it’s also wonderfully relaxing.
EDIT 5 October
After a few of you reported butter leakage, I’ve noticed I had missed a modification, which I made a few months ago: I now use a reduced amount of butter in the dough – 130g instead of 200g; a leaner dough absorbs the butter better, but I couldn’t remember why I had reduced it as I love the texture of the buns made with 200g of butter so much!
Thank you for your feedback! Also, make sure the bullar are proofed until doubled in size before baking them. It takes around 2 hours at 24°C but can take 3-4 hours if the room temperature is colder. Lots of love and sorry for the caramelised cinnamon butter :(
EDIT 6 October
I’ve tried both batches today, with 130g and 200g butter. While I love the texture of the buns with 200g of butter, they do leak during baking; a quick fix, if you’re after melt-in-your-mouth bullar, is to bake them in muffin paper-cases so you won’t end up with a puddle.
As for the batch with 130g of butter, they’re a bit lighter and almost no butter leak :) Sending you all my cinnamon-love X
Kanelbullar, un peu comme des brioches
makes around 14-16
for the dough
530 g strong flour
70 g caster sugar
16 g fresh yeast
10 g sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs (150 g)
190 g whole milk
130 g to 200 g (read note/edit above) unsalted butter, at room temperature
for the cinnamon butter
250 g salted butter, at room temperature
170 g caster sugar
3 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
for the topping
1 egg, beaten, to glaze
a handful of pearl sugar
for the syrup
75 g caster sugar
75 g water
In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast, salt and cinnamon. Add the eggs and milk, and mix with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Transfer to a clean work surface and knead by hand for around 20 minutes – if you’re making the dough in a stand-mixer, fit it with the hook attachment and knead on medium speed for around 10 minutes, until the dough detaches from the sides of the bowl and feels: – smooth, elastic and barely tacky. If you take a small piece of dough, you should be able to stretch it into a very thin membrane.
Add the butter in three or four times – if making by hand; if you’re using a stand mixer, add the butter, one small piece at a time continuously until all the butter is in – and knead it in. The dough will “split” as you do so and butter will smear over your work surface, but keep on adding butter until it’s all used. Then knead the dough until smooth again. Place in a large bowl, and clingfilm to the touch.
You could proof the dough for 1 hour at room temperature and then place it in the fridge for at least another hour before using it, or refrigerate straight away for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.
The next day, get two baking trays ready by lining then with baking paper. Make the cinnamon butter by mixing all the ingredients until smooth and spreadable.
Slightly flour your work bench and tip the dough over. Roll into a 30 x 60 cm rectangle, around 5-6mm thick, with the short end facing you. Spread the cinnamon butter evenly over the dough. Then fold the dough into three, first the top part over the centre, then the bottom (and closest to you) over the rest. You should be left with a 30 x 20 cm-ish rectangle.
Cut 2cm wide strips and roll each into a knot (as shown above), and place it on the prepared baking tray. Keep on going until all the strips are rolled.
Cover loosely with clingfilm and allow to proof for a couple of hours or until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 185°C.
Brush the top of the buns with the egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden brown.
Transfer to a wire-rack using a palette knife and allow to cool down slightly.
For extra shiny buns, brush the top of your just-baked bullar with a simple syrup made of equal quantity of sugar and water brought to the boil.
Glad kanelbullens dag!