living the sweet life

Kanelbullar: Swedish Cinnamon Rolls

October is one of my favorite months, not just because it’s my birthday. It’s filled with beautiful fall weather before it starts to get too cold, it’s the perfect transition month between the too warm first half of September and the snow that threatens to come in November. It does¬†have my birthday which is a definite plus, but it also is filled with delicious food. Like these Swedish cinnamon rolls.

In Sweden, October 4th is “Kanelbullens dag” which is a day celebrating their kanelbullar or cinnamon rolls. Honestly? Probably one of my favorite holidays. But, being here in states, I forgot the date until the morning before and between my crazy work schedule, I couldn’t properly celebrate until two days and then it’s taken me weeks to finally post about them here. Whoops! I had meant (last year) to make sure that this year I posted about these on the actual holiday but that clearly didn’t happen. Better late than never?

Speaking of better late then never, it finally feels like fall here in LA which I LOVE. I was driving home from Whole Foods because I needed some Maldon sea salt ($5 for a HUGE box? Score!) and literally had to pull off the road to take pictures of the trees. While driving around LA, you occasionally see a tree with bright colored leaves, but more often than not, the leaves just kind of die and fall off the tree. None of the sweeping landscapes of changing leaves that I was used to on the East Coast. So when I saw these trees in a row, I had to document it:

Back to these cinnamon rolls. I grew up with these, my mom baking them a few times a year, friends in Sweden gifting us with bags of homemade kanelbullar to enjoy during our 2-3 week visits because god knows my brother and I would devour them. We always kept a bag or two in the freezer after baking them so that they would last for a few weeks. In Sweden, we eat these all year round but there’s something extra magical about the cinnamon and cardamom in the fall as the weather turns colder.

When I was studying abroad fall semester 3 years ago, anywhere and everywhere smelled like freshly baked kanelbullar. The subways, the 7-11s (which are literally EVERYWHERE. So weird), the bakeries, the grocery stores. Everywhere. It was intoxicating and you couldn’t help but want one of them anytime you were out. I loved going to a cafe for a fika with a nice kanelbulle and a latte, whether I was with friends, by myself, or out at a cafe doing homework.

These are different from the American type of cinnamon roll. These don’t have a lot of sugar in them, instead of being coated with a thick icing, it’s dotted with pearl sugar on top, and the cardamom just adds an extra layer of warmth and spice that’s delicious. I can’t tell you how much I love these, but I’m sure once you make them you’ll understand why.


makes 40-50 rolls

1 stick (100 g) unsalted butter
2 cups milk
3 packets (21 g) active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 stick (100 g) unsalted butter, softened
scant 1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 egg, beaten
Pearl Sugar

In a saucepan, melt butter. Add in milk and heat over medium low heat until roughly 100 degrees F. You should be able to stick your finger in the mixture and just barely feel the heat.

Transfer butter and milk mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add yeast and let proof until bubbly for about 10 minutes. Add in salt, sugar, cardamom and about 2/3 of the flour. Mix and knead the dough together, adding more flour until the dough begins to clean the bowl. Sprinkle with some flour. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles, roughly 30 minutes.

Knead dough in bowl for a few minutes. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Mix in any remaining flour. Dough is ready when it begins to clear the board.

Roll out dough into a rectangle. Spread with softened butter. Mix together sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom. Sprinkle over dough. Roll dough up tightly so it forms a long log. Cut into 3/4″-1″ slices and place on greased baking sheets. Cover with dish towels and let rise in warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat over to 450 degrees. Brush rolls with beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 5-10 minutes until golden brown. Let cool while covered.

[source: adapted from Served from the Swedish Kitchen]

1 thought on “Kanelbullar: Swedish Cinnamon Rolls”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.