Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls (Kanelbullar)

What makes these different from American cinnamon buns? Well, while there are many recipes out there, I'll point out a few things. First - cardamom in the dough. Very important. Second, these are baked in a very hot oven for just a few minutes. This makes them light and fluffy, with a nice brown surface yet not dry or overbaked
Third,In Sweden, the common way of baking cinnamon rolls (kanelbullar) is to put them in individual paper cups before baking.(Bun cups - they're like slightly lower muffin cups.) Fourth, no glaze!

150 grams butter
500 mls full fat milk
50 grams yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
150 ml caster sugar
800 grams plain flour
2 tablespoons cardamon (kardemumma)

For the "cinnamon butter" :
125 grams butter
150 ml caster sugar
3 tablespoons cinnamon

1 egg, beaten with 1/2 tsp water, and a tiny pinch of salt
pearl sugar

1.Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add milk. Heat to lukewarm/finger warm.
2.In a large bowl, crumble the yeast and add a little of the butter/milk liquid. Stir the yeast in until it becomes a smooth paste. Then add the rest of the liquid.
3.Add the sugar and the salt. Add the flour and the cardamom.
4.Knead the dough by hand or with machine, knead until smooth and elastic, about 5-8 minutes.
5.Place a damp tea-towel over the bowl and leave the dough to rise, for about 30-40 minutes.
6.Divide the dough into two. Roll out each part to a large rectangle.Spread each with softened butter and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
7.Roll each rectangle into a tight roll, starting at the long edge, and cut each roll into about 10 pieces.
8.Place each piece in a paper cup on a baking sheet (covered with parchment paper so you won't end up with a mess), cover and leave to proof for 30 minutes.
9.Beat the egg with a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp of water, and brush this carefully on the buns. Finish by a light sprinkling of pearl sugar.
10.Bake at 250°C for 6-8 minutes, until they're as golden as you like them


The semla is a tradiotional pastry commonly eaten in Sweden and Finland. The oldest version of this pastry was plain bread bun served in a bowl with hot millk. Today, the semla consists of a cardamom-spiced wheat bun which has its top cut off and insides scooped out and then filled with a mix of the scooped out bread crumbs, milk and almond paste, topped off with whipped cream. The cut-off top is then put back as a lid and dusted with icing sugar. It is nowadays often eaten on its own, with coffee or similar, but many still eat it in a bowl of hot milk.

The semla was originally eaten only on Shrove Tuesday, as the last festive food before Lent. However, with Protestantism the Swedes stopped observing Lent, and the semla in its bowl of warm milk became a traditional dessert every Tuesday between Shrove Tuesday and Easter. Today, semlas are available in shops and bakeries every day from shortly after Christmas until Easter.

Yield: 8
› 200 g plain flour ‹
› 35 g sugar ‹
› 0.5 tsp ground cardamom ‹
› 0.5 tsp salt ‹
› ca 14 g dried yeast (instant) ‹
› 35 g butter ‹
› ca 100 ml milk ‹
› 1 egg - lightly beaten ‹
› 4 tsp milk ‹
› 150 g almond paste - grated ‹
› 200 ml whipping cream ‹
› 1.5 tsp icing sugar (pure) ‹

Mix the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the yeast.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the milk. Cool the liquid to lukewarm.
Pour the liquid into the bowl. Slowly mix the dry and wet ingredients, then knead this dough until soft, smooth and elastic. Add a little extra milk if necessary. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (60-90 mins).
Knead the dough lightly, then divide it into eight equal pieces. Form each piece into a round bun. Place the buns on a greased/non-stick baking tray, ca 5 cm apart. Cover and leave in a warm place to prove until doubled in size (60-90 mins).
Preheat the oven to 230°C (lower for convection oven). Lightly brush the tops of the buns with the egg.
Bake for 7-10 mins, until deep golden brown. Take care not to burn them (it can happen quickly). Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
With a very sharp knife, horizontally slice off the top quarter of each bun and put to one side. Using a fork, scrape out about two teaspoons of bread from the middle of each bun and place this in a small bowl.
Mash this bread with the milk for the filling. Add the almond paste and mix to a fairly smooth paste. Place a liberal tablespoon of filling in the middle of each bun.
Now whip the cream until it holds its shape well but isn't completely stiff. Pipe or dollop the cream over the filling.
Lightly place the top of each bun on top of the cream and push down gently, just enough to squidge the cream to the edge of the bun. Dust the lid with icing sugar.
Best eaten with a cup of coffee or in a bowl of warm milk. Store in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.