Swedish Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)


Cinnamon buns are a classic treat to enjoy with coffee or to munch on in the morning. They make a perfect sweet breakfast for a lazy Saturday, or any day really, because who could say no to a cinnamon bun?

Skip the goopy glaze for these bad boys. This ain’t no cinnabon. They’re already perfectly spiced with cardamom, cinnamon, and warm brown sugar — I think a glaze might even be overkill. Topped with a little egg wash and pearl sugar, this is the perfect recipe for a sweet treat.

Time: 2½-3 hours

Yields: About 15-20 buns

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons milk (I used skim since it was all I had, but whole milk or almond milk would be even better)
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 3 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 stick room temperature unsalted butter
  • ¼ – ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • pearl sugar for garnish
  • vegetable oil

  • Begin by scalding the milk in a saucepan. Make sure you have it over low heat so as not to boil the milk — you will know when it’s ready when bubbles start to form around the edge, like a foaming ring. Once you see this, take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature.
  • Once the milk has cooled enough, transfer it into a large mixing bowl and add in the yeast. Whisk this together until light and foamy.  Add the sugar, the egg and egg yolk, the vanilla, cardamom, and salt then whisk until combined.
  • Gradually add in the flour and knead until a soft and stretchy dough forms.  You can knead your dough in an electric mixer with a dough hook or just use your hands. I always use my hands – nothing fancy. It’s important to add the flour in slowly, because you may not even need the extra half cup — only add in as much as you need. The dough should be silky, not at all rough, but if the dough is still sticking to your hands after kneading and kneading, add more flour in by spoonfuls until it cooperates.
  • Mix in 4 tablespoons of room temperature butter a few pieces at a time until mixed into the dough. This will make your dough much smoother. (And tastier.) Set the rest of the stick of butter aside — you’ll be using it for the yummy cinnamon filling. Shape the dough into a ball.
  • Next, either clean out your large mixing bowl or get an entirely new one and very lightly dab a paper towel or tissue into some vegetable oil. Coat the bowl so it’s not greasy but just a little oily so the dough doesn’t stick to the bottom and sides. Then plop your dough into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel. Leave it to rise for 1 hour.
  • While your dough is rising, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and a pinch of salt and mix until incorporated. Set aside.
  • After your dough has risen, roll it out onto a floured surface with a rolling pin. You want to make sure to roll it into a rectangular shape, about a 12-inch-by-18-inch rectangle, but it doesn’t have to be totally exact (i.e. no ruler necessary).  When you’ve got your rectangle, spread the cinnamon filling onto the dough using a knife. Be sure to spread it all the way to the sides.
  • Then we roll! Take an edge and begin rolling your rectangle into a big sausage. It will kind of look like a jelly roll. Once you have your roll, take a sharp serrated knife and cut into about 15-20 equal pieces.  Lay them on a baking sheet lined in parchment paper or a silpat. Cover them with some plastic wrap and let them rise again for 1 hour.
  • I begin preheating my oven to 350° about 15 or so minutes before the last hour of rising is up. When they’ve rested for an hour (those terribly needy little things), lightly beat 1 egg with a fork to make a wash. Brush the eggwash generously onto the buns and sprinkle them with a little bit of pearl sugar.
  • Bake them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until they’re a beautiful golden brown. Cool them on a rack — but not for too long, they’re best served warm!

Finnish Coffee Bread

This Finnish coffee bread has been in my family for years. I follow my grandmother’s weathered and worn recipe every time I make it, so instead of resorting to an ancient note card stained with ink and probably a few coffee splatters here and there, I think it’d be best to share it with the world and type it up on my blog.


This sweet treat goes by a few names, but mostly it’s pulla, Finnish braid, or just coffee bread. It’s the perfect consistency; somehow dense and fluffy at the same time and just slightly sweet, spiced with subtle cardamom and sprinkled with raw sugar. It’s the perfect bread to have with a cup of coffee or even as toast in the morning. Or if you’re like me, you’ll just eat it all plain and fresh out of the oven…

A quick warning: this is not a quick recipe. From start to finish, you’ll need an entire morning or afternoon. It takes about 6 hours, because we are working with yeast, and it needs proper time to rise. This is a perfect recipe for a weekend or a day off — whenever you have the time to bake something truly special.

  • 2 cups scalded milk
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 1⁄3 shortening
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 yeast packet
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1⁄4 tsp cardamom

* Makes 2 loaves

  1. Start by heating up the milk in a saucepan until scalded.
  2. While waiting for the milk to heat up, beat your eggs, sugar, and salt together. In a large separate bowl, add in the 5 cups of flour. Set aside.
  3. Add the shortening to the milk and combine with egg mixture.
  4. Add in yeast, making sure the mixture is not too hot, but at a tepid temperature. Dot some of the mixture on your skin to test heat before adding in the yeast, as the wrong temperature can screw up the whole process!
  5.  Add the yeast/egg mixture to the bowl with the flour and fold it in with a wooden spoon until a thick, stretchy dough forms.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board or surface and knead 150 times. Then, transfer it back into the bowl, cover it with saran wrap and a dish towel. Leave it alone to rise in a warm room until the size of the dough has doubled (about 2 1/2 hours).
  7. Once the dough has risen, transfer it back to your floured surface and cut into thirds and braid. You could also shape the dough into smaller rolls, but I prefer making one long braided loaf. After you’ve shaped your bread, cover it with saran wrap again and let it rise even more (about 1 hour, just until it puffs up nicely).
  8. Brush each loaf with egg wash then sprinkle with raw sugar.
  9. Pop them into the oven for about 15-30 minutes. I usually turn them halfway, so set your timer for 7 minutes and rotate them. Let them cook for another 7 minutes. You’ll know when your bread is done — it will turn beautiful golden brown and when you tap it, it should be solid.
  10. Let cool and enjoy!