Food: Swedish cinnamon buns

We had to chuckle a couple of months ago when Marks & Spencers announced that Swedish cinnamon buns were the ‘new’ fairy cakes. Being half Swedish, we’ve been eating these buns as long as we can remember and the smell of them freshly baked is heavenly. It got us thinking though, where can you buy a good Swedish cinnamon bun in London? At the Nordic Bakeries in Soho or Marylebone, they are made using a rustic Finnish recipe making them a little heavier than Swedish buns, but still with a good cinnamon bite. At Totally Swedish, in Barnes or Marylebone, they are of the classic Swedish variety, available to buy either frozen or fresh, the latter being made twice a week. Our favourite, though, are those at The Scandinavian Kitchen on Great Titchfield Street which have just the right balance of cinnamon-butter filling to bun bread. In fact we love them so much we decided to ask The Scandinavian Kitchen for their recipe (see below), so we could cook them at home. The ingredients are all fairly basic apart from the pearl sugar (or Pärlsocker in Swedish), which you can get at their shop near Oxford Circus, online here, or at the annual Swedish Christmas Fair held at the Swedish Church this weekend, which sells all kinds of traditional Scandi food as well as great, un-gaudy Christmas decorations (see www.swedishchurch.com for more details). Happy baking!

Swedish Cinnamon Buns
Makes around 40 buns

For the best results, don’t be stingy with the filling and don’t try to use low fat anything: whole milk, good quality butter… We also prefer using fresh yeast, but if you can’t get hold of any, you can use dried (see footnote).

The dough
50 g fresh yeast
1000 g plain bread flour

85 g caster sugar

1 egg
150 g unsalted butter
500 ml whole milk
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground cardamom

Filling
150g butter (nice and soft)
4-5 tsp ground cinnamon
85 g sugar (we like to use brown sugar)

Decoration
1 egg for brushing
Around 100 g of pearl sugar for decoration (see online shop here)


Melt the butter and add the liquid (milk) – check the temperature (should be between 37-46 degree Celsius for optimal yeast). Add the yeast and stir.

Once the yeast has dissolved, add the egg, sugar, salt, cardamom and most of the flour (hold a bit back for kneading). Work the dough until it stops sticking and has a shiny surface – probably around 10 minutes by hand. Keep kneading, it makes for a better bun.

Place the dough in a nice warm place for around 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Place the dough on a floured surface and work through the rest of the flour.

Cut the dough in half and roll out each piece in a rectangular shape, around 30 cm long and 12-15 wide. Butter the whole piece liberally and dust over with the cinnamon and sugar. Roll each piece lengthways so that you end up with a long sausage looking roll. Cut 2 cm big bites and place them carefully on baking trays (take care to keep them separated as they will rise). For ease, you can add large muffin cases if you wish, but this is not essential. Let the buns rest for another 30 minutes until doubled in size. You should get between 34-40 buns out of this batch.

Brush gently with egg and pour over a bit of pearl sugar on each bun and then bake in the over on 220 degrees (fan oven) for about 8-10 minutes (turn the heat down a bit half way if you feel they are getting too brown). Let them cool down under a clean tea towel – this will stop them going dry immediately.

Footnote: whilst fresh yeast is available at Scandi Kitchen, in some health food stores and some super markets, you can use 2 x 7g sachets of the instant dry yeast instead – just make sure to add this to the flour/dry ingredients and NOT to the wet mix.

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