Sannel Larson

Monday, January 21, 2013

Swedish Cinnamon Buns

The Swedish cinnamon buns or cinnamon rolls are hugely popular in Sweden. Those buns are a must at Swedish coffee get together. If you meet over a cup of coffee in a café or at someones home, there will definitely be some of those pastries on the table. And taking in the fact that Sweden is one of the heaviest coffee drinking countries in the world, there will be lots and lots of those cinnamon buns going around!

Freshly baked cinnamon rolls, sprinkled with pearl sugar

It is their own special little thing!

The cinnamon bun is very important to a Swede. I believe the cinnamon bun is sort of the way blechkuchen is to Germans, apple pie is to Americans or scones with jam and clotted cream is to the British. It is their own special little thing.
The matter of fact that this sweet yeast bread spiced with cardamom, layered with butter and cinnamon goes maybe as far back as five generations, makes it very special. The smell of the freshly baked cinnamon buns brings back dear childhood memories, and I don't think there is any Swede who don't like them. It's a symbol for home, security, family and tradition.

Swedish coffee get together's called " Fika"

No-nonsense swirl

The cinnamon bun started to flourish in the bakeries in the beginning of the 1920s. However, it was not until the 1950s, that this little bun started to roll and make its way into every household.

A soon as Our cookbook “Vår Kokbok” a book that considered to be “The cookbook” for the ideal housewife at those times, published the recipe for cinnamon rolls, this pastry became immensely popular.

In the beginning, the bun was sprinkled with cinnamon and nib sugar, and the bun got transformed into many different and complicated shapes and sizes. However, in the 1960s, when women started to work and spend more time in the workplace and less time in the kitchen, the bun established itself into a quick, no-nonsense swirl.

My very own Cookbook "Vår Kokbok" Old and well used!

The Cinnamon Bun Day
Not surprisingly, since this cinnamon bun is so popular in Sweden there is actually a National Cinnamon Bun Day. Every October 4th, there will be “kanelbullar” baking in every household.
Every bakery or convenience store in Sweden will have baskets abundant with straight from the oven cinnamon buns. The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls will be in the air all over Sweden. While popular every day of the year, on October 4th, this Swedish symbol will not go unnoticed.

Pearl sugar makes all the difference!
The cinnamon bun is a baked sweet yeast bread, topped with brittle sugar crystals and baked in paper cups. If they are not freshly baked from the oven, you can briefly heat them in the microwave, and they will taste wonderful fresh.

What is it that makes the Swedish cinnamon rolls different from American cinnamon rolls you may ask? Well, it's definitely the lack of the thick sugary frosting or sticky glaze. The Swedish version will instead have a light sprinkle of “pearl sugar.” You may purchase it on internet, but if you are fortunate and have an Ikea store in your area, you can buy it from there.

The Swedish love pearl sugar on their cinnamon buns

Distinctive symbol for Sweden

It seems that the Swedish cinnamon bun takes the world by storm these days. Both cupcakes and over-sized muffins have to get out-of-the-way to make room for this very hot and trendy Scandinavian bun. Those swirly buns does a great job to outshine even its sweetest competitors.

I have tasted so many different versions of the Swedish cinnamon bun. I guess the sky is the limit when it comes to the imagination how to alter the recipe in some way or another. But as I always say; why mess with perfection? There is a reason why this bun is so hugely popular in Sweden.

When baking the cinnamon rolls in Sweden, we all use the same old and proven recipe from Our cookbook “Vår Kokbok”. If we altered it in some way it would not be the same, and the bun would without a doubt lose some of its popularity, because to a Swede, the traditional “kanelbullen” is indeed a very distinctive symbol for Sweden.
Our cookbook

This is the traditional recipe for Swedish Cinnamon buns from Our Cookbook “Vår Kokbok”

Makes 48 cinnamon buns

(A Tip! For best results, bring all the ingredients to room temperature before baking.)


2 oz (50 g) fresh yeast

2 1/4 cups (500 ml) finger-warm milk

5 1/2 cups (1,3 kg) wheat flour

4 1/2 oz (100-150 g) caster sugar

4 1/2 oz (100-150 g) butter, melted

1 tsp salt

2 tsp cardamom


3 1/2 oz (100g) butter, softened

3 1/2 oz (100g) caster sugar



1 egg, beaten with 1/2 tsp water

pearl sugar


  • Melt margarine over low heat in a saucepan.
  • Add milk and heat it up until it is a little more than lukewarm (37°C )
  • Crumble the yeast into a large mixing bowl.
  • Add some of the tepid milk and margarine mixture, and stir until the yeast is dissolved.
  • Add the rest of the milk, sugar, salt, cardamom and butter and 2/3 of the flour, save some (don´t over do the flour). Work into a smooth and silky dough.
  • Leave to proof, covered with a towel, for 40 minutes or to doubled size.
  • Knead the dough on a floured board until the dough is elastic and non-sticky.
    • Divide the dough into four. Roll out each part to a large rectangle (½ -1 cm thick)
    • Spread with room tempered butter, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
    • Roll each rectangle into a tight roll, starting at the long edge.

    • Cut each roll into about 12 pieces. Place each piece in a paper cup on a baking sheet, cover and leave to doubled in size for 30 minutes.
    • Beat the egg with 1/2 tsp of water, and brush this carefully on the buns. 
    • Finish by a light sprinkling of pearl sugar.

    Bake the buns in the middle of the oven at 500° F ( 250°C ) for 6 to 8 minutes or until they're as golden as you like them.
    Allow the buns to cool on a rack. Cover them with a clean towel. They freeze well and can be warmed up in the microwave.

    Freshly baked cinnamon buns straight from the oven!


    Enjoy the Swedish cinnamon rolls warm from the oven, with a cup cup of coffee, tea or a glass of ice cold milk!


    1. hmmmmm . . . (silence shhhhh, bows head, prayer offered and thanks giving too) . . . nice!


    2. Mitch, Thank you for those words. Words I know have depth and meanings beyond the common eye and mind.

    3. This looks great. Thanks for sharing such a treat.

    4. Wonderful presentation with mouth watering pictures. I love cinnamon buns. Sometimes I like to join the roll at the end and cut the slices only 3/4 of the way through the dough. Then I turn the slices at an angle to form a Tea Ring. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

    5. Yes, PegCole, that's another great and simple way to do it, and it looks really pretty too. I do something similar aw well. I cut the roll 3/4 of the way through the dough with a scissor. I cut and slide the cut edges backwards, like a braid. Simple and pretty.
      Thank you for stopping by and share your words here with me.
      Take care!

    6. PegCole, I try to leave comments on your blog, but I have some difficulties. I'm not able to write on your comment section, I do not understand why?

    7. I shall certainly be giving this one a go Sannel.
      Thank you for sharing.

    8. Eddy, enjoy your home baked cinnamon buns! :-)


    Your lovely comments are my reward.
    Thank you !