Baking Swedish

Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)


If you’re after a sweet, sticky and generously glazed cinnamon bun, you’ve come to the wrong place. Instead, these let the quality of the enriched bread and already sweet cinnamon filling do the talking. To my mind, that makes these more akin to the famous Swedish kanelbullar than what you might consider a cinnamon bun to be.

You can, of course, glaze your cinnamon buns should you wish – far be it from me to stop you from doing so. It does have its advantages; without icing, these tend to go a little dry after a day. So, make sure you’re either cramming yourself full of cinnamon buns in a 24-hour period or freezing what you don’t want once cool.


Glaze or no glaze, what we all desire is a light and airy dough brimming with prodigious fluffiness. The key ingredient here (other than bread flour) is patience – knead your dough for the full 10 minutes until it is smooth, supple and sticks to nothing. And then there’s the rise. Do let your dough double in size, but don’t let it go too long or your yeast will lose its potency.


Finally, don’t let the 10-step recipe below put you off making your own cinnamon buns. There’s a lot of detail to cover, but they’re actually incredibly simple to make. Give them a go, and you’ll soon be sitting back with your feet up, a kanelbulle in one hand, and a coffee in the other.

Cinnamon Buns (Kanelbullar)

Makes 12 


For the buns

  • 100g salted butter
  • 200ml whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 500g strong white flour
  • 7g fast-action yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs

For the filling

  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 100g salted butter (room temperature)
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon 
  • 1 egg, beaten


  1. Gently warm the milk and salted butter in a pan until the latter has melted. Set aside to cool a little. Bring together the flour, salt, yeast and sugar in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Crack the eggs into a well in the centre of the flour. Pour in the milk mixture and incorporate all of the flour until you have a soft, sticky dough.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a surface. Don’t use flour – to begin with, your hands will get sticky. Knead the dough for 10 minutes, by which point you should have a soft ball of dough that no longer sticks to your hands.
  4. Place the dough into a clean mixing bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Once risen, turn your dough out onto a clean surface, knock it back and roll out into a rectangle roughly 40x30cm in size.
  6. Spread the butter evenly across the dough, leaving an inch along one long side uncoated. Sprinkle 80g of the sugar evenly across the butter, press down gently and top with a heaped teaspoon of cinnamon.
  7. Brush the uncoated strip of dough with a little water. Roll up the dough tightly beginning with the fully-coated long edge. Pinch the seam closed once fully rolled up.
  8. Trim 2cm off each end of the rolled-up dough. Slice the remainder into 12 rolls each 3cm wide. Grease a muffin tin with butter, place the rolls into the tin swirl-side up. Cover once more and set aside to rise for 45 minutes.
  9. Pre-heat your oven to 220C/200C fan. Brush each roll with a little beaten egg, dust with cinnamon and sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar.
  10. Bake the rolls for 12-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. They are best eaten the same day, or frozen once cool. 

Cost: Bread, sugar and cinnamon. You can make an entire batch of 12 for £2.50 with change to spare. That’s little over 20p per cinnamon bun.

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