Twisted into adorable bows and sprinkled with crunchy Swedish pearl sugar, these pillow-soft buns are bursting with fragrant holiday spices, taking inspiration from the Swedish cinnamon bun, kanelbulle.
Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Makes about 18 buns
- 3¼ to 3½ cups (406 to 437 grams) all-purpose flour, divided
- ¼ cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons (7 grams) instant yeast
- 1½ teaspoons (4.5 grams) kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoons (3 grams) ground cardamom
- 1 cup (240 grams) whole milk
- ⅓ cup (76 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg (50 grams), room temperature
- ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ½ cup (110 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons (8 grams) ground cinnamon
- 2½ teaspoons (5 grams) ground cardamom
- 1¼ teaspoons (2.5 grams) ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg (50 grams), lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water
- Swedish pearl sugar, for sprinkling
- For dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat 1 cup (125 grams) flour, granulated sugar, yeast, salt, and cardamom at low speed just until combined.
- In a medium saucepan, heat milk and butter over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until butter is melted and an instant-read thermometer registers 120°F (49°C) to 130°F (54°C). Add warm milk mixture to flour mixture; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Add egg; beat at medium-high speed for 2 minutes. Gradually add 2¼ cups (281 grams) flour, beating just until combined and stopping to scrape sides of bowl.
- Switch to the dough hook attachment. Beat at medium-low speed until a soft, smooth, elastic dough forms, 6 to 9 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl and dough hook; add up to remaining ¼ cup (31 grams) flour, 1 tablespoon (8 grams) at a time, if needed. (Dough may still stick slightly to sides of bowl.) Check dough for proper gluten development using the windowpane test. (See Note.) Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size, 30 to 45 minutes.
- For filling: In a medium bowl, stir together butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, pepper, and salt until well combined.
- Punch down dough; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 22×15-inch rectangle, one short side closest to you. Using a large offset spatula, dot filling onto dough, and spread in an even layer all the way to edges. Fold dough in thirds like a letter. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet; cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
- Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 15×8-inch rectangle, one long side closest to you. Using a pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut into 18 strips (about 8×¾ inches each). Holding a strip with one end in each hand, twist strip 5 times, gently stretching until it is nearly double its original length. Grabbing one end of twisted strip between middle 2 or 3 fingers and thumb of same hand, loosely wrap dough around fingers twice, overlapping slightly. Place thumb of same hand over overlapped dough strands to secure; wrap remaining end of dough perpendicularly around overlapping dough strands to form a knot-like shape, tucking loose end under bottom of finished bun. Place buns 1½ to 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F/24°C) until doubled in size and dough holds an indentation when poked, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
- In a small bowl, whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water. Brush egg wash on top of buns. Sprinkle with pearl sugar.
- Bake until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers at least 190°F (88°C), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking and covering loosely with foil to prevent excess browning, if necessary. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
To use the windowpane test to check dough for proper gluten development, pinch off (don’t tear) a small piece of dough. Slowly pull the dough out from the center. If the dough is ready, you will be able to stretch it until it’s thin and translucent like a windowpane. If the dough tears, it’s not quite ready. Beat for 1 minute, and test again.