Kanelbullar or Swedish Cinnamon Rolls | December 22, 2016

Cinnamon rolls are tradition in my family this time of year.  When my older brother was in Kindergarten, his class put together a spiral bound cookbook for the kids to give their mother’s for Christmas. (For those of you old enough to remember, this was a thing back then and by back then I mean in the 1960’s.)  There was a recipe for cinnamon rolls that I guess my brother decided he wanted to try with all the possessed wisdom of a 5 year old.  From then on, Christmas morning we always had ”Robbie rolls” for breakfast.  I didn’t know until I was probably in middle school that no one else called them Robbie rolls.  I thought cinnamon rolls were something entirely different.

My lovely mom always made Robbie rolls on her own, as if a secret; I think she wanted us to think it was hard labor of love. The first year I made Robbie rolls, it was as a surprise to her and I made them for our Christmas morning breakfast when I was in my late 20’s. She owned a retail store for 25 years and December was the crucial time at the store. Typically between Halloween and New Year’s she would only take a day or two off.  If I came home any earlier than the 24th I didn’t see much of her so I started cooking so she didn’t have to be burdened with all that as well.  The whole point of this is that I thought making Robbie rolls required tremendous baking skills, uninterrupted time, and precision beyond my attention span.  It does not.  As I have said before, sweet dough is generally easy to work with and tend to be more forgiving.

I saw a picture of these beautiful cinnamon rolls on Instagram and had to know how to make them.  I read lots of recipes and decided on this one from whatsgabycooking.com.  I think the thing that makes these Swedish is the cardamom, of which I am a HUGE fan and I can tell you that the balance of spice was spot on.  There is also vanilla bean in the dough which I can’t pick out but I feel like it brings up the warm, comfort feeling of these rolls.  There is a video tutorial on how to shape these properly and once you make one it is a snap.  I love how elegant they look.  Not to mention that the gooey, buttery, cinnamon filling is teasingly exposed.   My best advice is to use the Tovolo Silicone Baking Mats on your baking tray because the same gooey, buttery, cinnamon filling oozes out of the firm embrace of the dough and makes a bit of a mess.  The Baking Mats make cleaning a cinch.

Ok – so the hard part about this recipe is the rolling of the buns.  As I said before, as soon as you make one you will be fine.  I got a dozen out of the dough.  You roll the dough out like regular cinnamon rolls and then you fold the dough in thirds, cut it into long strips (6), twist the strips into ropes, and then wrap it around your hand.  Take the last little bit and wrap it over the top of the circle you made on your hand and tuck into the bottom of the roll.

I hope you enjoy making these beautiful Kanelbullar.  I have no doubt you will enjoy eating them.  Perhaps they will become a family tradition for you.  I would love to know about your family food traditions if you would like to share so feel free to leave me a note in the comments section.

Kanelbullar or Swedish Cinnamon Rolls

YIELDS 12  |  PREP TIME  3 hours (includes proofing)  |  PRINT PDF

  • 1 package yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 vanilla pod, halved and scraped
  • 1 egg plus 1 yolk (reserve extra egg white)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ground cardamom
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the filling

  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp. warm milk
  • 3 tsp. cinnamon

Powdered Sugar for dusting

  1. Stir yeast, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 teaspoon sugar together in small bowl and set aside until foamy; about 5 minutes.
  2. In small saucepan heat 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons butter, and vanilla pod until butter just melts; remove from heat and cool mixture to 110 degrees. When mixture is cool, remove vanilla pod and add yeast mixture.
  3. In large mixing bowl whisk egg, yolk, sugar, cardamom, and salt until well combined. Add milk-yeast mixture and stir until well combined. Slowly stir in the all-purpose flour and knead until soft silky dough forms; shape into a ball.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a clean bowl and roll dough ball in oil. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and rise to double; about 2 hours.
  5. Prepare the filling: combine softened butter, sugars, warm milk, and cinnamon; blend until it’s an even paste.
  6. Divide dough into 2 sections. Roll each section into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle on a Tovolo Silicone Pastry Mat. Spread half the butter-sugar mixture over each square. Fold dough into thirds and cut 6 long strips out of each square. Then twist each strip. Gently, wrap the twisted dough around your flat four fingers leaving a 2-3 inch tail, then wrap the tail over the top of your fingers, easing the dough from your fingers and tuck the end of the tail underneath the roll.
  7. Place rolls on a Tovolo Silicone Baking Mat lined pan and let rest for 20 minutes.
  8. Whisk together reserved egg white and a few tablespoons of water. Brush tops of rolls with wash and bake in 350 degree oven about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack.