Kanelbulle / Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)
First and foremost, I’d like to apologize to every Swedish and any person who’s fond of kanelbullar… I’m very, very sorry! Residing in a country that lacks a host of baking ingredients, I couldn’t find nib sugar (a.k.a. pearl sugar)–the very topping that distinguishes kanelbullar from other cinnamon buns. Having said that, I had no other option but to substitute nib sugar with “caramel granulated sugar”. And I swear, it was the closest thing that resembled nib sugar at our local “Western” grocery shop. (I even went as far as checking the sugar and spice aisle three or four times!)
Alright, moving onward…
In this baking experiment, I decided to bake two sets of kanelbullar, where one contains freshly ground cinnamon and the other pre-ground cinnamon. Further, to eliminate any confusion, the first set of buns were knotted and the second set were rolled–the two most common forms of kanelbullar. Coincidentally, this experiment prompted me to grind my own spices for the first time in my life. I tell ya’, never have I wished so badly for a coffee grinder.
(This post has been submitted to YeastSpotting.)
The primary objectives for the kanelbullar are the following:
Adapted from the kanelbullar recipe on the Swedish website Allt Om Mat, the following adjustments were made:
Additionally, if available, I’ve included brand names of the food products I used (please see the tables below). Disclaimer: This isn’t an endorsement. I’m simply indicating the names of the branded products used in my baking experiment.
Yield: 29 kanelbullar
Total Prep Time: N/A
Total Bake Time: 30 + 30 + 30 + 27 minutes
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour, Unbleached||540 g||Gold Medal|
|Instant yeast||8 g|
|Unsalted butter, Room temp.||100 g||Emborg|
|Granulated white sugar||80 g|
|Salt||2.5 ml or 1/2 tsp|
|Cardamom seeds, Ground||2.5 ml or 1/2 tsp|
|Whole milk / Full cream milk, Chilled||+290 g||Dutch Mill|
|Duck egg, Whole, Room temp.||48 g|
|Unsalted butter, Room temp.||50 g||Emborg|
|Cinnamon sticks, Ground||15 ml or 1 tbsp|
|Granulated white sugar||45 g|
|Unsalted butter, Room temp.||50 g||Emborg|
|Ground cinnamon||15 ml or 1 tbsp||McCormick|
|Granulated white sugar||45 g|
|Caramel granulated sugar||N/A||Mitr Phol|
|Duck egg, Whole||N/A|
|All-purpose flour / Plain flour, Unbleached||N/A||Gold Medal|
|Microwave convection oven, Sheet pans, Parchment paper (Kitchen funnel), Plastic wrap, Spatula, Whisk, Strainer, Bowls, Mixing bowls, Measuring cups, Graduated cylinder (Measuring spoons), Mechanical kitchen scale, Chinese chef’s knife, Paring knife, Pizza cutter, Kitchen scissor, Box grater, Spice mill, Spoons, Forks, Pastry brush, Cooling rack, Cutting board|
Warning: Do not attempt my “recipe” (i.e., experiment) without considering the following; Variations in room temperature, humidity, altitude, food products, kitchen equipment and utensils, techniques and methods, amongst other factors, will influence the outcome of your baked goods.
Before I began, I measured, prepared, and organized my ingredients and kitchen equipment. This includes: 1) lining the sheet pans (9 x 11.5 x 1.5 in) with parchment paper; 2) cutting the butter (refer to “dough” ingredients) into large cubes; 3) extracting and grinding the seeds of cardamom pods with a spice mill; 4) grinding the cinnamon sticks with a box grater.
Note: I spent nearly an hour grinding the cinnamon sticks! My advice: should you ever decide to manually grind your own spices, be sure that one of your top virtues is patience.
Step 1: After preparing and organizing my ingredients, I assembled the flour, yeast, whisk, and mixing bowl. (Refer to “dough” ingredients.) Thereafter, I poured the flour and yeast into the mixing bowl, then whisked the two ingredients until they were well blended.
Step 2: Next, I retrieved the soften butter.
Step 3: With my fingers, I rub-a-dub-dubbed the butter into the flour until the mixture resembled fine bread crumbs, as shown above.
Step 4: Once the butter was rubbed into the flour, I gathered the sugar, salt, cardamom, and strainer.
Step 5: I then sifted the sugar, salt, and cardamom into the mixing bowl and discarded any large substances entrapped by the strainer. Moreover, the ingredients were whisked until they were well blended.
Step 6: Milk and egg, meet dry mixture. Hello! Dry mixture, meet milk and egg. Greetings!
Step 7: In a single motion, I poured both the milk and egg into the mixing bowl. With a spatula on hand, I then mixed and folded the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. However, as expected, the amount of liquids provided to the (underdeveloped) dough was insufficient.
Step 8: Incorporating an additional two or three tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) of chilled milk into the dough, what resulted was the above–a sticky, non-cohesive shaggy mass.
Subsequently, I loosely sealed the mixing the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest at room temperature for twenty minutes. (The purpose of resting periods is to develop the dough’s gluten). In the meantime, I thoroughly washed and dried the counter top (i.e., desk top).
Step 9: After twenty minutes had elapsed, I removed the plastic wrap from the mixing bowl, then pried the dough onto the flour-dusted desk top. Afterwards, I kneaded the dough using the French kneading method.
Step 10: “Why is this taking so long?!”
Despite kneading for a total of forty-five minutes, the dough remained sticky and non-cohesive (displayed above).
“Wait, I know! I’ll let it rest for a bit.”
Accordingly, I discontinued kneading the dough, left it uncovered, and waited five minutes.
Note: Recently, I learned that high ratios of sugar and butter will greatly hinder gluten development in dough. Therefore, it may be more advisable to knead the dough, then later incorporate the sugar and / or butter in gradual additions.
Step 11: After the dough’s rest period, I kneaded the dough for an additional five minutes, then performed the window pane test.
Next, I dusted the dough with flour, shaped it into a ball, transferred it to a separate mixing bowl, then loosely sealed the mixing bowl with plastic wrap. Thereafter, the dough was left to “bulk ferment” at room temperature for one hour and twenty-five minutes.
Note: This was my first time shaping dough into a smooth spherical ball. I was very proud of it!
Step 12: Meanwhile, I assembled the ingredients and utensils for “filling A”: freshly ground cinnamon, sugar, butter, spatula, and mixing bowl.
Step 13: Next, I poured the cinnamon, sugar, and butter into the mixing bowl, then creamed (i.e., vigorously stirred) the said ingredients until a smooth consistency was reached, as shown above.
Step 14: Following steps 12 to 13, the same procedures were applied for “filling B”.
Step 15: Looks like an inflated airbag, doesn’t it?
One hour and twenty-five minutes had passed, and within that time frame the dough expanded about double its original size.
Step 16: With a spatula, I gently nudged and pried the dough onto the flour-dusted desk top. Soon after, I then dusted the top surface of the deflated dough with flour.
Step 17: In a delicate fashion, with my fingertips, I compressed and stretched the dough into a rectangular shape. Then, using a pestle (I don’t have a rolling pin), I flattened the dimpled dough until a smoother complexion was achieved.
The described procedure is demonstrated in this video.
Step 18: Let me just say, I was ecstatic when I finally had the opportunity to use my pizza cutter. Ecstatic!
Step 19: Using a ruler as a guide, I divided the flattened dough in half with the pizza cutter. Next, I retrieved “filling A” and a butter knife, then spread the filling onto two-thirds of a halved flattened dough.
Note: In this case, an offset spatula would be more preferable to a butter knife. In several instances, the serrated edges of my butter knife tore the surface of the dough.
Step 20: After spreading two-thirds of the halved dough with the filling, I folded the blank flap upwards, as shown above.
Step 21: I then folded the one-layer flap onto the double layer.
“Oh, man… That looks totally uneven.”
Step 22: Using the ruler (again) as a guide, I divided the folded dough into two centimeter (0.79 in) wide strips with the pizza cutter. Afterwards, I discarded the ends of the dough. Wasteful, I know…
Step 23: As demonstrated in this video, I attempted to twist the strips into knotted balls of dough, all of which were set onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Suffice it to say, I had some success…
The first batch contained eight knotted buns and the second batch contained nine knotted buns. Hence, a total of seventeen knotted buns were produced.
Note: In retrospect, I should’ve dusted the dough strips with flour prior to shaping. As I knotted the dough strips, they adhered too excessively to my fingers, thus leading to inconsistent results.
Step 24: The first batch of knotted buns were proofed (i.e., fermented) for twenty-five minutes at room temperature. Within that time period, I placed the second batch of knotted buns into the refrigerator (chilled at 3°C / 37.4°F), prepared the egg wash by beating one whole egg with a fork, and commenced the preparation of the rolled buns. (The procedures for the rolled buns will be described later below.)
It was at this point when I realized that I had overlooked the proofing and baking schedule of the kanelbullar. *Slaps forehead!*
Step 25: Before the first batch of knotted buns were finished proofing, I preheated the microwave convection oven at 160°C / 320°F, applied the egg wash, and sprinkled the caramel granulated sugar onto the said knotted buns.
Step 26: When ready, the first batch of knotted buns were placed into the preheated oven and baked for thirty continuous minutes.
Step 27: After thirty minutes had elapsed, I transferred the first batch of knotted buns from the oven to a cooling rack, then preheated (again) the oven at 160°C / 320°F. In the meantime, I removed the second batch of knotted buns from the refrigerator and applied steps 25 to 27, where applicable. However, unlike the first batch, the second batch of knotted buns were not proofed.
Note: Displayed above is the first batch of freshly baked (knotted) kanelbullar. *Deeply inhales aroma.*
Step 28: I’ll now describe the procedures for the rolled buns. (The rolled buns were prepared while the first batch of knotted buns were being baked.)
With a butter knife, I spread “filling B” onto the other half of the flattened dough, leaving a blank margin along the edges.
Step 29: Once “filling B” was applied to the flattened dough in the said manner, I rolled the dough, pinched the seam, then turned the rolled dough with the seam-side down. Shortly afterwards, I challenged the rolled dough to a duel and armed myself with a Chinese chef’s knife.
Step 30: Chop, chop, chop!… Voila! Thirteen rolled buns!
Because the oven was preoccupied (i.e., baking the second batch of knotted buns), all of the rolled buns were immediately chilled (at 3°C / 37.4°F) in the refrigerator.
Step 31: Five minutes before the knotted buns (second batch) were finished baking, I removed the first batch of rolled buns from the refrigerator, applied the egg wash, and sprinkled the caramel granulated sugar onto the said rolled buns.
Step 32: The first batch of rolled buns were placed into the preheated oven, then baked for thirty continuous minutes. In comparison, the second batch of rolled buns were baked for twenty-seven continuous minutes.
Step 33: Once baked, each batch of rolled buns were cooled on a rack for a brief period.
Note: Displayed above is the first batch of freshly baked (rolled) kanelbullar. Isn’t it odd how one of the rolls is paler than the others? That had me perplexed.
Step 34: Behold, a mountain of dirty dishes and utensils! This was the consequence of preparing twenty nine kanelbullar.
Knotted buns with freshly ground cinnamon:
Within an hour after being baked, the crust of the bun was firm, whereas the crumb was light-weighted, moderately moist, and tender. Moreover, the bun emitted a conspicuous but modest buttery aroma (cinnamon was not detected). As expected, the bun’s crumb tasted mildly buttery. The sugary topping contributed the most to the bun’s sweetness, also adding a crunch to each bite.
After an hour of being baked, the crust of the bun remained firm but the crumb was less moist and therefore chewier. Overall, the intensity of the bun’s buttery smell and taste had reduced to faint or mild. Strangely, a slight yeasty scent was identified when in near proximity of the nose. Other characteristics of the bun remained unchanged.
After a day of being baked, the bun’s crust was soft and rather spongy. Additionally, the crumb of the bun had staled and possessed a very weak buttery smell and taste. With exception to the absence of a yeasty smell, other characteristics of the bun remained unchanged.
Rolled buns with pre-ground cinnamon:
Within an hour after being baked, the crust of the bun was firm, whereas the crumb was slightly moist yet still tender. The bun possessed a bizarre combination of a faint yeasty and buttery aroma. However, the taste was slightly buttery, with the majority of its sweetness originating from the sugary topping.
After an hour of being baked, the crust of the bun remained firm but the crumb had somewhat staled. (The bun’s inner interior retained slight moisture.) In regards to the bun’s smell, two notable changes had occurred: the yeasty odour had vanished and a weak cinnamon aroma was detected. Other characteristics of the bun remained unchanged.
After a day of being baked, the bun’s crust was surprisingly firmer and the crumb had completely staled. The butter taste and smell of the bun was barely detectable. However, the weak cinnamon aroma was still present. Other characteristics of the bun remained unchanged.
Note: the kanelbullar were stored at room temperature.
What were the major lessons I’ve learned? Well, I learned that the brand and / or amount of butter used in my buns had diminished the aromatic presence of the cinnamon, whether it was freshly ground or not. However, it could be argued that my cinnamon sticks weren’t as potent as they should be, due to improper storage… Admittedly, any person making that claim would be correct. *Lowers head in shame.*
Secondly, I learned that sugar and butter aren’t best friends with gluten. Sugar hogs too much water and butter plays too rough by smothering gluten.
Thirdly, I learned that it’s very, very important to plan out the proofing and baking schedule of your bread dough. Otherwise, chaos may ensue.
Amongst a myriad of other minor lessons, that sums it up, really. So, until next time, farewell and happy baking! :)