Swedish cinnamon buns

Classic Cinnamon Buns. Photo: Anne Skoogh

Cinnamon buns are very Swedish. You’ll see them in every café, and even in grocery stores and in gas stations. There are countless recipes, but most are quite similar. You start with a yeasted dough, rich with butter and flavored with cardamom, and fill it with a mixture of butter, sugar, and cinnamon. The buns are brushed with eggwash and topped with large grains of sugar – called “pearl sugar” – before being briefly baked in a very hot oven.

This recipe is a bit more involved, and uses a starter dough, but it’ll yield very fluffy and flavorful buns – well worth any extra effort. The traditional shape is easier – just roll out your dough, cover with filling, and roll up from the long side as you would a jellyroll and cut into slices. These are slightly more complicated, but a nice variation that you’ll often find in bakeries. I’ve tried to explain as best I can, and I hope you’ll find it helpful.

They buns will keep well in the freezer – defrost quickly in the microwave, for best results. In addition to the ingredient list, make sure to have an egg for eggwash, pearl sugar for decorating, and paper cups to place the buns in (or the filling might end up melting all over your baking sheet.)

Classic Cinnamon Buns
About 45

Starter dough:
500 ml milk
500 g all-purpose flour
50 g fresh yeast

Mix all ingredients, and leave to rise for two hours, or in the fridge overnight.

200 g raw brown sugar
10 g cardamom, ground
5 g salt
550 g all-purpose flour
1 egg
200 g butter, unsalted, at room temperature

Add the sugar, cardamom, salt, flour and egg to the starter dough – don’t add the butter just yet! Work into a smooth and supple dough – about 10 minutes using a stand mixer, and longer if you knead by hand. Add the butter. It can be a bit tricky getting it to mix with the dough, but it’ll work eventually. Doing it this way helps the gluten develop – butter usually prohibits gluten development, so adding it late in the process is better. Knead until it’s all well blended, and the dough is supple and smooth.

Cover with plastic and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the filling, by simply stirring together all these ingredients:

200 g butter, unsalted, at room temperature
100 g granulated sugar (preferably that has been left to infuse with a vanilla bean)
100 g brown sugar

The rolled out dough. Photo: Anne Skoogh

The dough, covered with filling and cinnamon. Photo: Anne Skoogh

Divide the dough in half. Roll out the first half into a large rectangle. Spread with half the filling. Dust with cinnamon. Fold in three, lengthwise – first lift a third of the dough towards the middle, then fold down the top third as well, to make a very long and skinny rectangle.

The first fold. Photo: Anne Skoogh

The second fold. Photo: Anne Skoogh

Make cuts, 1 cm wide – every other cut should be all the way through, and the rest should stop about 2 cm from the top.

The cut. Photo: Anne Skoogh

Take each 2 cm strip, and twist the two skinny parts to make a rope. Fold into a sort of bun, with the ends underneath, and place in a paper baking cup.

Twisting the buns. Photo: Anne Skoogh

The twisted bun - looks almost like a rose. Photo: Anne Skoogh

Leave to rise for 30-60 minutes.

The folded buns, rising. Photo: Anne Skoogh

Brush with beaten egg, and sprinkle with pearl sugar.

Bake at 230°C for 8-10 minutes, depending on how brown you like your buns.

  • Liam

    Oh my hat, I cannot wait to try these. I’m going to use some of your suggestions for
    hot cross buns, I never quite get them right or fluffy enough.

  • Monica-USA

    Looks very yummy, my mom has a great recipe from Germany to make good cinnamon rolls  and you can use the same dough recipe for homemade bread or for pizza crust. 

  • Sweetcarolinescooking

    These look delicious! You did such a great job braiding the dough. Simply gorgeous. :)

  • Rose

    nice new TWIST to cinnamon buns getting the flavor through in layers!!! thanx for sharing…great photos!

  • http://www.transatlanticsketches.com Kate

    Yum! Looks good! I’ve made cinnamon buns before, but American-style… hint: there’s way more butter. I love your folding technique. Will have to try it out!

    • http://annesfood.com Annesfood

      Oh I love American-style buns as well. There was the best, best little place in Long Beach.. Sweet Jill’s. I think it’s probably still around. Their buns were ginormous, but oh so delicious…

  • http://twitter.com/missy__m Adele

    I have been looking for this recipe for SO LONG! Can you freeze the dough in between batches?  

    • http://annesfood.com Annesfood

      Glad to hear it – I have another version up on my other blog, as well :) I don’t think you can freeze the dough though – the yeast would probably die. I haven’t tried it – it might be ok unbaked for a short while, say a week or so? If so, I think you should freeze it just after shaping. 

      I just freeze the ready-baked buns, and thaw them for 30 seconds in the microwave on high – just like fresh from the oven!

  • Patricia Fournier

    In Quebec (Canada,) it is almost impossible to buy fresh yeast. What would you recommend? Would 2 tsp of dried yeast mixed with a little warm water do it? Thanks! Patricia

    • http://familjenlalloo.wordpress.com/ Sara

      I usually use 2 1/2 tea spoons of dry yeast in all recipes that call for fresh yeast. Has always worked well for me. Good luck!