Celebrate Sweden’s Obsession with Cinnamon Buns

Sweden has a Special Day for Their Favorite Sweet

October 4th is National Cinnamon Bun Day | Kanelbullens dag

It might seem silly to celebrate a cinnamon roll. But the Swedes take their sticky sweets very seriously. This is due in part to the cultural entrenchment of fika in Sweden. Fika is that oh-so Swedish ritual of taking a daily pause with colleagues and friends that often includes coffee and a sweet. Most popularly enjoyed when taking fika with friends? Coffee of course. And a sticky sweet knotted and spiced cinnamon roll. Known as kanelbullar in Swedish.

Cinnamon rolls in Sweden are seriously worth celebrating. They are not like the soft doughy frosted gargantuan pull aparts I’ve known in the States. Here, these are twisty knots of spiced pastry sprinkled with crunchy crystallized pearl sugar. Sweden’s classic kanelbulle that you might meet in a bakery today is about 100 years old, having arrived in Swedish cafés the 1920’s. As the spices and ingredients were not as readily available in post-WWI Europe, originally cinnamon buns were considered a luxury.

History of Swedish Cinnamon Bun Day

A boom in the Swedish economy and more affordable ingredients during the 1950’s paved the way for kanelbulle to become a home kitchen classic. Soon popular with domestic bakers and a clear favorite for fika gatherings, the Swedish cinnamon bun would get its very own day in 1999. Started by the Hembakningsrådet, or Swedish Baking Council, as a way to commemorate their 40th anniversary, the Kanelbullar Day retains a nostalgic hold on many Swedes’ hearts. And stomachs. A delicious reminder of good old days and what it means to be “Swedish,” there seems to be no stoppage of cinnamon baked celebrating in Scandinavia. In Sweden and beyond.

Savor Swedish Traditions and Fika

And if growing globalization and recent rises in immigration make Sweden hold tight to their traditions (for good or for bad), I for one can swallow this definition of why being Swedish is worthy. So this October 4th, stock up. Order ahead. Bake your own. Or step out. Slow down and stop. Take time for some Swedish fika this year. Pour another cup of coffee. With friends. Or family. I’m fine with this flavor of Sweden. Fika this.

In Scandinavia this season? Following are some of the best cinnamon bun bakeries in Sweden that I’ve sampled. From Stockholm to southern Sweden and even a stop over the Øresund Bridge in Copenhagen. Don’t worry if these are nowhere near you. Not coming to Scandinavia any time soon? Never fear. I’ve got a recipe below to help you fashion your own fika wherever you live.

Where to Find the Best Cinnamon Buns in Stockholm, SE

Fabrique Stenugnsbageri 
Locations throughout the city to serve you. And don’t dis the chain, Fabrique’s buns are the bomb.

Brödbutiken Dessert & Choklad
Södermannagatan 23, Södermalm neighborhood Stockholm


RELATED: SPEND THREE DAYS IN STUNNING STOCKHOLM SWEDEN

Where to Find the Best Cinnamon Buns in Lund, SE

In southern Sweden, it’s all about St. Jakobs Stenugnsbageri. I found them first on a day trip to lovely university town Lund. Scents of cinnamon and cardamom waft down the street drawing you in. I will admit that its the really the kardemummabulle from this beauty of a bakeshop that I truly pine for. Perfectly wound and dense, but not hard, these spiced sweets are fiking amazing.

Lund is a lovely place to explore on its own, but if you’re nearer to Malmö, you can still find St. Jakobs to fill your cinnamon bun sweet tooth.

St. Jakobs Stenugnsbageri
Klostergatan 9, 222 22 Lund, Sweden

St. Jakobs at Malmö Saluhallen
Gibraltargatan 6, 211 18 Malmö, Sweden


Where to Find the Best Cinnamon Buns in Copenhagen, DK

So the Danes make darn tasty pastries on this side of the sound. But a Swedish kanelbulle is not quite the same as a Danish kanelsnegl. Here, the classic “cinnamon snail” is made from a flakier pastry dough which rolled and ends up flatter. Unlike their Swedish counterparts, they don’t come adorned with the crystallized sugar and instead possibly a frosted glaze. And while they are worthy, there is no special day in Denmark honoring the kanelsnegl. So what is one to do? Head to Juno. In the Østerbro neighborhood, sits this little Danish-Swedish bakery that draws lines and crowds for their tasty take on the twisty spiced pastry knots. But don’t expect to roll up late in the day, when these babies are gone…. they’re gone.

Insider scoop: Juno’s baker used to work for St. Jakobs in Sweden. 

Juno The Bakery
Århusgade 48, 2100 København
Open:
Weds – Sat | 07:30 – 18:00
Sun | 09:00 – 15:00


Make Your Own Swedish Cinnamon Buns

As I have not yet tried to make my own buns, I’m turning to fellow blogger and friend here in Copenhagen, Carolyn Eddie from Carolyn’s Absolutely Fabulous Events. Carolyn is a former caterer and event host as well as world traveler. And I can confirm that she is a darn fine baker. Here is Carolyn’s take on a classic Meyer’s Madhus recipe.

RECIPE | Swedish Cinnamon Swirls
By Carolyn Eddie adapted from Meyer’s Madhus

One of the first things I planned to do when I arrived in Denmark was to learn how to make Danish breads and pastries. Sadly, once I got here, I discovered that most of the classes were in Danish, and the odd English one seemed to always fall on a date when I was out of the country. Luckily for me, one of my Danish friends, Anette, signed up for a class run by Meyers Madhus. That would be Claus Meyers of NOMA fame, the baking side of the world-famous partnership. Not that Claus himself ran the class, obviously, as he is far too busy running his empire which now extends as far as NYC.

Anette could already make Danish bread, seems most households in Denmark consider baking with yeast a basic skill, but wanted to learn how to make rugbrød, the dense rye bread used for the iconic Danish open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød. Part of the class was a lesson on Swedish Cinnamon Swirls, a sweet dough flavored with cardamon and then twirled into a knot. After much begging, Anette agreed to run a small workshop to show a few of us how to make these Swedish treats.

There was still an element of not understanding how hard working with yeast is for some of us mere mortals. Making the dough was seen as the easy part, and somewhat dismissed as routine. The hard part of cinnamon buns is in the twisting, involving some serious twirling and sleight of hand. On the day, we made some pretty impressive buns, but, alone in my kitchen, I am not so sure. My dough is still rising, if all works well, I will have Swedish buns for our own celebration tomorrow.

Images and instructions are from my workshop with Anette. Meyer’s recipe with American conversions to follow.

Note: I have always been a little hesitant about cardamon, but it is an essential part of Swedish buns. You may reduce the amount, I did ever so slightly, as I find the spice can be overpowering.

Ingredients:  
For the Dough:
  • 250g whole milk
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 75g sugar
  • 7g salt
  • 7g cardamom
  • 75g butter
The filling :
  • 125g soft butter
  • 125g sugar
  • 12g cinnamon
The glaze :
  • an egg to wash and crystallized pearl sugar (optional)
Directions:

STEP 1 | Mix ingredients in bowl. Stir the yeast into the cold milk. Add the flour, egg, sugar, salt and cardamom and knead the dough until it is smooth and starts to let go of the bowl. Around 7-8 minutes.STEP 2Cut up butter into small pieces, add it to the dough and knead for another 7-8 minutes until the dough is quite smooth. Cover the dough and leave to prove for an hour in a warm place.

STEP 3 | After an hour, punch down the dough and reshape, then leave to cool in the fridge for at least an hour in a plastic box. You could leave the dough overnight at this stage.

STEP 4 | Stir together ingredients for filling until a soft spreadable paste.

STEP 5 | Flour a table and roll the dough out flat until you have one a square 30cm by 30cm and approximately 5mm thick.

STEP 6 | Spread the filling evenly out onto the dough.STEP 7 | Fold a third of the dough to the middle, then fold the other third over the first section. You should now have three layers.

STEP 8 | Roll out until 30cm by 24cm and cut into 12 x 2cm strips lengthwise.STEP 9 | Now for the tricky part!

STEP 10 | Curl each strip by rolling it forwards. Making sure not to squeeze out the filling, wrap the dough twice around your index finger and middle finger. Fold the end of the dough over the two folds and place it between your index and middle finger. Pull your fingers away, so the tip of the dough strip fits through the inside of the roll.STEP 11 | Place the swirls on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until they have doubled in size. About 30 minutes.STEP 12 | Whisk an egg and carefully brush it on the buns and sprinkle pearl sugar on top.STEP 13 | Bake at 185-190C (350-375F) for approx 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

STEP 14 | Invite some friends in, take to work or share with family. Do as the Swedes would do, make some strong coffee and take time for some fika.

Swedish Cinnamon Bun Recipe

Meyers Madhus Cinnamon Buns

Swedish Cinnamon Buns are made with an enriched yeast dough flavored with cardamon, filled with butter and cinnamon.

Servings: 12
Author: Carolyn Eddie
Ingredients
For the Dough
  • 250 g whole milk | 3-4% (1 cup)
  • 25 g fresh yeast (7 oz dry yeast)
  • 1 egg
  • 500 g all purpose flour (4 cups)
  • 75 g sugar (1/3 cup)
  • 7 g salt (1 tsp)
  • 7 g ground cardamom (3 tsp)
  • 75 g butter (1/3 cup)
For the Filling
  • 125 g soft butter (1/2 cup)
  • 125 g sugar (5/8 cup)
  • 12 g cinnamon (1 1/2 Tbsp)
For the Glaze
  • 1 egg for wash
  • crystallized pearl sugar for sprinkling on top
Instructions
  1. Pour the cold milk into a bowl and stir the yeast into it. Add the flour, egg, sugar, salt and cardamom and knead the dough until it is smooth and starts to let go of the bowl. Around 7-8 minutes.

  2. Finely dice the butter, add it to the dough and knead for another 7-8 minutes until the dough is quite smooth. Cover the dough and leave to prove for an hour in a warm place.

  3. Punch out the dough and reshape, then leave to cool in the fridge for at least an hour in a plastic box. You could leave the dough overnight at this stage.

  4. Mix the ingredients for the filling until they are a uniform mixture and a soft spreadable paste.

  5. Flour a table and roll out the dough until you have one a square 30cm by 30 cm and approximately 5mm thick. (12" x 12" and less than 1/4" thick)

  6. Evenly spread the filling out onto the dough.

  7. Fold a third of the dough to the middle, then fold the other third over the first section. You should now have three layers.

  8. Roll out until 30cm by 24cm rectangle and cut into 12x2cm strips lengthwise. (12" x 5" rectangle with 1" strips)

  9. Now for the tricky part!

  10. Curl each strip by rolling it forwards. Making sure not to squeeze out the filling, wrap the dough twice around your index finger and middle finger. Fold the end of the dough over the two folds and place it between your index and middle finger. Pull your fingers away, so the tip of the dough strip fits through the inside of the roll.

  11. Place the swirls on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until they have doubled in size.

  12. Brush with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

  13. Bake at 185-190C (375 F) for approx 10-12 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack

Recipe Notes

I have always been a little hesitant about cardamon, but it is an essential part of Swedish buns. You may reduce the amount, I did ever so slightly, as I find the spice can be overpowering.

Thank you to Carolyn for sharing her photos of the process and tips on the recipe. Head over to her blog for more great local tips and fabulous recipes.

Happy Cinnamon Bun Day to you and yours. Cheers from Scandinavia. Erin

Looking for more recipes and inspiration to further your Scandinavian baking needs. Check out these. I’m a big fan of Trine Hahnemann and she has her own version of Cinnamon Buns.

2 thoughts on “Celebrate Sweden’s Obsession with Cinnamon Buns

    1. oregongirlaroundtheworld

      We definitely fika’d in Stockholm – yum! And yes – tasty memories too. Happy to have shared them with you mom!

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