11 January 2014

Swedish Cinnamon Rolls: Kanelbullar

I posted a recipe for cinnamon rolls a while back, and while they are definitely well worth baking, I prefer the Swedish kind I grew up with. The Swedish version is not as sweet (as they're not glazed) and contains cardamom, which you'll find pretty frequently in the Swedish kitchen (for example, it's featured in the mulled wine we drink around Christmas: glögg).

The only ingredient that might be difficult for non-Europeans to find is pearl sugar, apparently also called nib sugar. While, yes, it's "only sugar," it's a pretty integral part of the recipe. Some IKEA stores might carry it (Swedish name: pärlsocker). I couldn't find any at my local IKEA store, but I did find some in a kitchen supply store. I recommend kitchen supply stores to anyone looking for hard-to-find ingredients or any kitchen hardware, bar perhaps appliances. If you happen to be in Southern California or Arkansas, Surfas is well-stocked. If you really can't find pearl sugar, you absolutely can glaze these cinnamon rolls, or you can top them with chopped almonds or even some sprinkles. I'd add the sprinkles after they're cooked, though. Just in case.

Swedish Cinnamon Rolls

2 cups whole milk
1/2 oz (14 g or ~5 tsp) active dry yeast
1 tbsp ground cardamom
5 oz (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 egg
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
5 cups AP flour

5 oz (1 1/4 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
4 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp sugar

1 egg
pearl sugar (see note above)

paper baking cups

1. Cut the butter into small cubes and set aside.

2. Mix the milk and cardamom together. Heat in a pot over medium heat or in a microwave at 50% power until 118 degrees F (48 degrees C).

3. While heating the milk, thoroughly mix the flour, yeast, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.

4. Pour the milk into the bowl of a stand mixer (if using) and add the egg.

5. Add the flour mixture to the milk and mix with the dough hook for 8-10 minutes. If not using a stand mixer, buy a stand mixer. Just kidding (or am I?). If not using a stand mixer, mix with a wooden spoon until everything comes together, then knead with your hands for 10-15 minutes. Add the butter, one cube at a time, until incorporated.

Note: if the dough is very wet and sticky, add a little more flour. The more flour you add, the drier the end product will be, so be careful! The dough will lose a little stickiness after rising.

6. Allow the dough to rise under a kitchen towel for 40 minutes.

7. Lightly dust a workbench with flour and pour out the dough on top. Turn the oven to 480 degrees F (250 degrees C).

8. Knead the dough for a few minutes, adding more flour if very sticky. Split the dough into two parts.

9. With a rolling pin, roll each part into a rectangle, about 1.5 times longer than it is broad. The end result should be about 1/3 of an inch thick.

10. Mix the butter, cinnamon, and sugar for the filling together until it forms a smooth paste.

11. Spread half of the filling across one of the dough pieces, ensuring you cover all of it.

12. Roll the dough into a tight "log" from one of the long sides (filling side on the inside, obviously).

13. Cut the log into roughly 1/2-inch thick pieces (you may need to discard the very ends if there's not enough filling there).

14. Place the paper baking cups onto a cookie sheet. Place a cinnamon roll into each cup, cut side up.

Repeat steps 11 - 14 with the other piece of dough.

15. Sprinkle pearl sugar (if using) on top of each roll and bake in the middle of the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown. Keep an eye on them - they burn fairly easily!

16. Let cool for a few minutes before consuming.

These go best with coffee or a glass of ice-cold milk. When I made the ones pictures above, it was too late for coffee and milk didn't feel quite right. My wife, Jacquie, realized that a White Russian was the perfect substitute for both - it's a cocktail, it has milk, it has coffee. What's not to like?

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