Cinnamon Buns

Sweet, pillowy soft bread & a buttery cinnamon filling… words cannot express just how much I love a good cinnamon bun! Let me loose inside any bakery or cafe & the one item that will forever catch my eye are the buns (I almost have bun radar)! Loved the world over, who doesn’t like a cinnamon bun? However, when I say cinnamon bun, I mean the real deal here… most people’s minds conjure up an image of the American cinnamon roll, huge rolled up buns smothered in a thick, heavy layer of cream cheese icing. Not to be mistaken with the Swedish original cinnamon bun (or kanelbullar).

Sweden’s most popular buns are much more subtle, the dough is often enriched & flavoured with cardamom alongside it’s sweet cinnamon filling & instead of being spread with a thick layer of icing, they are sprinkled with crunchy pearl sugar. They come in many shapes & sizes, from rolls (like a Chelsea bun) to snails & more commonly cinnamon knots (or kanelknutar). Traditionally enjoyed during fika, a wonderful Swedish ritual which means to take time for friends or colleagues to share a cup of coffee & a sweet bite (like afternoon tea without the excess) but also on Kanelbullens dag, yes, they literally have a cinnamon bun day every year on October 4th (this is when I want to plan my visit!).

cinnamon buns

These beautifully browned buns are my take on the classic kanelknutar. A perfectly soft & light cardamom dough, filled with a sweet, cinnamon packed, sugar filling before being twisted into striking, delicious little (or big) knots. Nothing really compared to the smell of these baking in the oven. I like to double up & make two batches whenever I make these so that I can freeze half for a rainy day breakfast (yes, they freeze brilliantly!).

(makes 12 regular or 6 large)


For the dough:

  • 500g strong while flour
  • 7g dried fast acting yeast
  • 5g salt
  • 2 tsp cardamom
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g butter
  • 230ml milk

For the filling:

  • 115g butter
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To top:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp pearl sugar (or you can use demerara sugar)


  • Add the milk & butter to a small saucepan & gently heat until the butter has melted (or you can do this in the microwave) set aside to cool until just lukewarm
  • In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, salt, cardamom & sugar (be sure to place the salt & sugar on the opposite side of the bowl to the yeast)
  • Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients, pour in the milk mixture
  • Stir until the mixture is well combined & a dough is formed (you many not need all of the milk mixture, or add a little more milk if your dough feels a bit dry)
  • Empty the dough out onto a floured work surface & knead for 10 minutes (or for 5 minutes using a dough hook in a stand mixer) until it is smooth & elastic
  • Put the dough back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm or a bag for life & leave to rise for about an hour to an hour, until it has doubled in size
  • Once your dough has risen tip it out onto a floured work surface & knock back the dough (knead out the air)
  • Roll or stretch your dough out into a rectangle, roughly 40x30cm in size (so long as rectangular don’t worry too much)
  • Tack down the corners of the dough & one of its long-sided edges, to keep it in place & prevent the dough from springing back
  • For the filling, simply soften the butter before beating together with the sugar until light & fluffy
  • Add the vanilla & cinnamon to the butter & beat until smooth
  • Take spoonfuls of the cinnamon filling & dollop it all over the dough
  • Use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the cinnamon filling all over the dough, going right up to the edges

To make knots:

  • Next, take the top short edge of the rectangular dough & fold it down two thirds of the way down the dough
  • Now take the bottom short edge of the dough & fold it over the top piece to line up with the top edge of dough (creating 3 layers of dough)
  • Lightly use a rolling pin or your hands to flatten & stretch out the dough a little
  • Use a sharp knife to cut out either 12 or 6 strips of dough (cutting along the length for 6 large or the width for 12 regular)
  • With each strip of dough, twist each of the end of the strip to swirl the dough
  • With the swirled dough, wrap it around your fingers once or twice before tucking the end of the dough back through the centre of the wrap, creating a knot (repeat for all strips)

To make swirls:

  • Starting with the longest edge of your dough rectangle nearest to you, begin to tightly roll up the dough until you meet the other long side
  • Place the seam on the underside your long roll & use a sharp knife to slice the roll into 12 pieces
  • Turn the pieces so that the swirl is facing upwards
  • Place your buns onto a parchment lined baking sheet
  • Cover with cling film, a tea towel, or (my preference) place inside a bag for life & leave to prove for 45 minutes – 1 hour until doubled in size
  • When proved, brush the tops of the cinnamon buns all over with the beaten egg before sprinkling over the pearled sugar
  • Bake the buns in the oven at 190C for 15 – 20 minutes, until beautifully browned

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