Kanelbullar–Swedish Cinnamon Buns


How fast time trickles through our fingers. For me this blog is a fantastic journal of how my year progresses, noting my ups and downs and making me aware to live my life consciously and with purpose. I find it helpful to be able to click on a past post, reading through the paragraphs of what occupied me during that time. Often reminiscing on happy memories, but also taking note of the improvements, changes or even of the defeats and frustrations I was tackling.

I have a pesky compulsion to, at the very least, feel like I am moving forward. Stagnation suffocates me!

As I sat down to write, I flicked through my blog to see what I was doing this time last year. Of course … there was the memorable trip to Stockholm to spend a few spectacular Midsummer days in a stunning city. A Scandinavian city … and I do not have to tell you about my soft spot for many things Scandinavian, do I? The post and the images gave me itchy feet to travel again and I began dreaming of faraway places. In reality I am bound at home, immobilized and cemented, not able to move much. Take away a bit of the drama around that last sentence and there is still truth to my current situation. Finally two weeks ago I was operated on my knee and now I am supporting an all-new anterior cruciate ligament. I’ll spare you the gory details but for now my only means of mobility is in the radius of my home and the virtual world of the web.


My very attractive knee doctor, probably sensing my pesky compulsion, has been raising his warning finger at me and keeps reminding me to take it easy and not push myself too hard. Truth be told, I am pushing myself, trying to structure my days in an efficient and effective way to make my mind and soul move forward if not my body. I cannot imagine wasting away for the next 6 weeks. So I read and write a lot and now have time to hang out in the hammock, thinking about moving forward and painting cloud figures in the sky. I am most definitely enjoying my writing again, which had taken position on the back burner to make more time for my photography jobs and projects. Now, as I am unable to keep to my feet for a whole session of cooking or shooting I am often staring at the cursor of my notebook and typing away. A lot of what I am writing will probably never make it for the eyes of anyone but my dad, who writes himself and we often share hours of conversation on our stories and laugh at the really bad ones (like the short story I wrote a few days after the surgery - probably still under the effects of the morphium!).

I do feel like I am moving in the right direction. This time next year I might come back to this post and laugh or cringe, depending on the course I really ended up taking. A course that can never be a wrong one to take is one that rewards with special sweet treats, like these heavenly Swedish cinnamon buns, bringing me back to my soft spot for all things Scandinavian ;o)


Kanelbullar are the big stars in Sweden, they are so popular that they even have their own national holiday celebrating them. I’ve always loved the lighter fluffier Swedish variety over their chewy and sugary American counterparts but never ventured into making them myself. One of my fondest memories of our trip to Stockholm last year was our visit to Skansen, an open-air museum depicting the way of life in Sweden before the industrial era. As we strolled the narrow paths of the 19th century village, we passed a tiny bakery with a long winding line of smiling people leading down the stairs and spilling onto the path. Wanting to avoid the line we circled around and walked right past the bakery. But the warming aromas of freshly baked bread, sugar and spice made me stop and turn around. Mesmerized, I joined the line and began grinning like all the other people in the line. All it really takes to make people happy is often the comforting fragrance of yeasty bread infused with heady spices. Once we entered the modest and humble bakery we were greeted by a young lady dressed in traditional clothing holding a large baking tray packed with the most divine kanelbullar fresh out of the oven.

As I reached the old wooden counter however, I noticed empty trays, my heart sinking in disappointment. I stared at the stray pearl sugar strewn across the tray and looked up expectantly at the young lady, who smiled and pointed behind me. Carrying two trays piled high with more sweet scented cinnamon buns, the baker himself joined the lady behind the counter . And I was first in line! I bought a few, biting into one straightaway and with my mouth still full I questioned the baker about the recipe. But he shook his head and told me “Big secret … just enjoy your kanelbullar!” How right he was.

I cannot tell you if they were the best kanelbullar in all of Sweden … they certainly were for me. The atmosphere, the Midsummer festivities and impressions were all dizzying and as soon as I arrived back home I emailed Anne of Anne’s Food who guided through her recipe.

What I love about the Kanelbullar is that although cinnamon plays the main role, it’s the beautiful flavoring of cardamom that captures my heart. This week the Swedish will be dancing around the Maypole as they celebrate Midsummer again - last year I was right there with them. This year I’ll be resting my knee in the hammock … no dancing … just enjoying my homemade kanelbullar. What a difference a year makes!

Recipe: Kanelbullar - Swedish Cinnamon Buns

Printable version of recipe here


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Yields: 40 buns

For the starter dough

  • 500 ml milk
  • 500g all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 50g fresh yeast
For the buns
  • 200g muscovado sugar
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground cardamom
  • Pinch of salt
  • 550g all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 egg
  • 200g butter, softened
For the filling
  • 200g butter softened
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 200g muscovado sugar
  • Ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Pearl sugar or coarse muscovado sugar to sprinkle


  1. Scald the milk by heating it in a small pan until it almost reaches boiling point, then allow it to cool. Scalding the milk makes the finished buns softer.
  2. Crumble the yeast in a clean bowl. Pour in some of the tepid milk and mix to dissolve the yeast. Add the rest of the milk and the sifted flour and stir everything together until the mixture comes off the sides of the bowl. Leave to proof overnight in the fridge.
  3. Once the dough has risen, remove from the fridge and work in the rest of the ingredients. Start by adding the sugar, cardamom, salt, flour and egg to the starter dough. Knead into a smooth and supple dough. It will take about 10 minutes if you are using a stand mixer, and longer if you knead by hand - about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Finally add the softened butter to the dough. This will be hard to work into the dough but it will eventually incorporate, leaving you with a smooth and glossy dough.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and place the dough back in the fridge for another 30 minutes. In the meantime make the filling by beating the butter with the sugar and the seeds of the vanilla bean.
  6. Divide the dough in half. Using one half, roll into large rectangle of about 1.5 cm in thickness. Using a spatula spread half of the filling over the dough dusting with ground cinnamon as desired. Fold the rectangle into thirds lengthwise: lift a third of the dough towards the middle, then fold down the top third as well, to make a very long and thin rectangle.
  7. On the short side of the dough cut about 16 to 20 strips of dough each about 2 cm thick. Take one of the strips and cut right the way through stopping at about 2 cm from the top. Pick up a strip of dough and twist the two ends in opposite directions two or three times and then coil the strip in on itself, tucking the ends underneath and sealing them in place with a dab of water. Once you have twisted all the strips, place them in paper muffin cups on a baking tray. Cover with a clean cloth and allow to rise for another 60 minutes.
  8. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  9. Brush each bun with a little bit of egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar or the coarser muscovado sugar. Bake the buns in oven for approx. 8-12 minutes or until light golden in color. Allow to cool on a wire rack before eating.


  • Butter usually prohibits gluten to develop in the dough so by adding it after the dough has been kneaded helps the gluten process to develop better.
  • These freeze well, all you have to do is wrap in aluminium foil and keep in the freezer. Reheat in the oven at 150° C.



Soft pillows of cinnamon and cardamom … if that sounds utterly clichéd to you … let me tell you there is no better way to describe these kanelbullar. You’ll realize that once you have taken that first bite. They literally melt in your mouth and that mix of cinnamon and cardamom creates a tantalizing sensation on your taste-buds. Be warned though: one will not be enough so prepare for an eating frenzy. I can only give you the same advice I got from that wise baker in Skansen last year “Just enjoy your kanelbullar!”

Sending you all sunny summery vibes from the hammock central. Hope you have an awesome weekend and I’ll see you next week.

Workshop News

Dubai2013WorkshopBadge-SidebarThank you to everyone who wrote to find out about further workshops in Europe this year. The Amsterdam workshop in September is sold out and it is my last one this year in Europe. However, registrations for the Dubai workshop in October are still open and quite excited to see a few coming in from Europe. Sally and I are will be putting on a great 2 day workshop with lots of hands-on exercises and highlights. Make sure you secure your spot soon.

You might like these bread and buns from WFLH:

LingonberryDarkChocBuns_0003WM_thumb CranberryPortBriocheRolls02-framed[2] Brioche 03-framed[2]
Lingonberry Dark Chocolate Buns Cranberry Port Mincemeat Brioche Rolls Saffron Brioche

All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2013 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. Wowo I just love the way you have shaped them. And they look so beautiful, too good for eating them but if i had them i would certanly do so.

    1. Finla, it would have been sad if we did not eat them ... they were delicious!

  2. I feel so sorry that you knee is still keeping you down. That was an unfortunate accident.

    But on the plus side, it is nice that you have time for writing now. And the Kanelbullar look beautiful.

    1. I am really trying to make the best of the knee and my spirits are up mostly. Still experience blocks when writing but I'll get there too.

  3. Those Kanelbular are so pretty! What an original shape. I dream of visiting Scandinavia... One day maybe my dream might come true. Who knows? ;-)

    I'm so sorry abour your knee. I hope you'll soon be able to be as active as before.



    1. I have my fingers crossed that your dream will come true too Rosa. In the meantime ... nothing like cooking to take you away on a short trip to your favorite place!

  4. Utilizing time to the full. I am that kind and so I know you must be feeling right now. I find it so hard to do absolutely nothing and just lie around. Glad you started writing again and I am curious about that short story now :)

    It's been on my mind to make Kanelbullar but with a savory filling (not sure if that is allowed)! I will still go ahead and do it :) Yours looking very neatly shaped.

    1. HA! I thought you would be! I am more mobile everyday and I am really doing my best to recover soon. In cooking almost anything goes. Am really keen to see what you come up with!

  5. These are so pretty...color me impressed! :)

  6. I love these in Denmark and Sweden and would love to cook them someday! thanks :)


  7. Hmmmm, yes yes yes to all things Scandinavian ;o) I also love Kanelbullar but would not trust myself to get that intricate knotted shape just so. Yours look fantastic though! So glad that the knee is on the mend and that this has given you time to get back to your writing :)

    1. My Borg sister ... we have the same passions I know and I love sharing them with you. The writing needs time to get back but it's fun.

  8. This is just very pretty to eat!!! ah...

  9. I hope your knee heals soon. I am sure your doctor would not approve of you baking these delicious looking Swedish cinnamon buns!

    1. Oh he might if I take a few for him ;o) Actually I baked these before the surgery. ;)

  10. These look gorgeous, absolute goodness. However can I replace muscovado sugar with normal sugar or brown sugar maybe?

    1. Thank you! Yes you can use light brown sugar for this too. I just like the intense flavor of muscovado sugar.

  11. Wow! Your pictures are aaamazing! and they look adorable, I think I might make some at home using some raw stevia

  12. I've never heard of these before, everything about them is unique and they look so cute and delicious. I will definitely make these over the long holiday next week. Thanks for sharing this.

  13. These look beautiful, but I don't quite understand how you folded them, could you maybe elaborate? Thanks

  14. Beautifully made.....looks delicious.

  15. Beautifully made.....looks delicious.

  16. This looks like a memorable breakfast to serve to guests. Who could ever forget Kanelbullar?

  17. Looks amazing, lovely color. Will try this one, thanks!

  18. These look Killer Meeta ! Absolutely stunning and irresistible.


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