The essential cinnamon roll recipe that everyone needs to have tucked away in their bag of tricks. This one is Swedish in origin, a kanelbulle or “cinnamon bun,” and rest assured there is plenty of cardamom in the dough for a spicy kick.
I’m the oldest of five in my family. My siblings can attest to the fact that I display many of the typical Type-A qualities people expect from a firstborn child, not the least of those being perfectionism. I am a perfectionist to a fault. The kind of debilitating disease that has me alphabetize my spice cabinet and be constantly annoyed at the state of a house with four young children. (Some things you just have to learn to let go of. An always organized and picked-up house is one of them at this stage in the parenting game.)
It’s that same trait that led to the production of 80 cinnamon rolls last week as I tried recipes and tweaked and twisted and finally landed on the cinnamon buns I was looking for, the ones that need no glaze, but instead, sing on their own. I found them in a cardamom-spiced dough traditional to their origin. They are a bit lighter than their American counterparts, and they puff up easily, showing off the swirl of cinnamon tucked within.
The first order of business is scalding the milk. Simply heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan and the temperature reaches 180° F. Turn the burner off and add in butter, sugar, cardamom and salt. I like to toss in unmelted butter here as it melts and cools the milk simultaneously, meaning I don’t need to wait for the milk to cool for as long.
When the milk mixture is down to between 110° and 120° F, sprinkle the yeast over the top and wait 10 minutes for the yeast to froth.
Dump the milk mixture into your stand mixer or a large bowl and slowly add in four cups of flour. Change to the dough hook Allow the mixer to run on high for 30 seconds or so after you add the last cup so that it pulls the dough together and away from the sides of the bowl. If you’re hand mixing, you can just knead the dough lightly in the bowl. Cover it up and let it rise in a warm place for an hour.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down, turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead it gently into a ball.
Roll the dough into a rectangle. I like to go with the larger the rectangle, the more cinnamon swirl, and I’m all for several rolls of cinnamon in my cinnamon buns.
Brush melted butter onto the dough.
Then sprinkle sugar and cinnamon all over the top. Again, there is some leniency here as far as amounts are concerned. You could go heavier on both the cinnamon and the sugar, the cinnamon only, whatever suits your taste preferences.
Roll up your rectangle starting at one end and moving down towards the other and then reversing and coming back until you have a long cylinder of dough. It’s a pretty forgiving dough, so don’t be afraid to stretch and pull on it.
Cut rolls off the tube. I aim for about an 1-1/2″-2″ thick. Much thicker and cooking time and temperature will need to be adjusted.
Place the rolls in the vessel you intend to bake them in or on. These can be set on baking sheets, placed in baking dishes or however you prefer. Be sure to leave room because after the next 45-minute rest, the cinnamon rolls will puff up quite nicely. Before baking, brush them with a bit of egg wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar. You can skip the sugar sprinkle if you plan on glazing them at the end.
A short bake time in the oven, and piping hot cinnamon buns will be on your table. These are perfect for a brunch, an Easter breakfast, a lazy Saturday morning or any other day of the week.
- Make the cinnamon rolls the night before and once they are on their baking sheet or in a baking dish, cover and store them in the refrigerator.
- Wake up the next morning and turn the oven on. Remove the cinnamon rolls from the fridge and place on top of the stove above the oven or in another warm place. Keep covered and place a warm towel on top of the rolls. (You can warm a towel by spritzing with water and placing in the microwave for 20 seconds.)
- Shower. Dress. Start your coffee. Then come back to your proofing rolls. Toss them in the oven and bake as directed.
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1-1/2 sticks or 12 tablespoons)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
3-4 tablespoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons pearl sugar
In a medium saucepan, heat milk over medium heat until small bubbles form around the edges and the milk reaches 180° F. Turn the burner off and add in the 1-1/2 sticks of butter, half cup of sugar, cardamom and salt. Stir to combine and continue stirring until the butter is completely melted. The mixture should be between 110° F and 120° F at this point. If the temperature is higher, wait for it to drop slightly before proceeding.
Sprinkle yeast over the milk mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes. When the yeast is frothy, mix it in and move to a stand mixer or large bowl. Using a spoon or paddle attachment at first and then a dough hook, slowly mix in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring to completely incorporate after each addition until all four cups of flour are mixed in and the dough is smooth. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise in a warm spot for one full hour.
When the dough has risen, punch it down and knead lightly. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle. Spread half the melted butter for the filling on the dough using a pastry brush to brush to the edges. Sprinkle the top with remaining sugar and then cinnamon (you can use extra cinnamon if you desire). Roll the dough lengthwise into a long tube and then cut off 1-1/2″ sections/rolls.
Place each roll in a greased baking pan or on a lined baking sheet at least 3 inches apart. **If you desire, you can refrigerate the rolls at this point and take them out for their second rise 1-2 hours before baking.** Cover rolls and allow them to rise in a warm place for 45 minutes to an hour until they are puffed up. They will continue to rise in the oven, so be sure to allow room for that..
When the rolls have risen, preheat the oven to 425° F. Beat together the egg and water and brush over the tops of the rolls. Sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake for 8-12 minutes until the tops start to turn golden brown. Remove from oven and glaze, if desired, and then allow to cool slightly. Serve warm.
Makes 20 cinnamon rolls.