That Travel Meal :: Swedish Cinnamon Buns

[trip style = food + wine]

I'm packing my bags for Sweden next month, and if there's one indulgence I'm already dreaming about, it's kardemummabulle. This Swedish treat isn't just fun to say; it's also fun to eat.

Bullar {buns} are a quintessential component of fika, the Swedish afternoon coffee break. You'll typically see both kanelbulle and kardemummabulle in Sweden, with the only difference being the addition of cardamom in the dough. Fika is so central to Swedish culture that it's both a verb and a noun. In Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break, the authors write:

"Ska vi fika?" {Should we fika?} means "Let's take a break, spend some time together, slow down." Fika isn't just for having an afternoon pick-me-up; it's for appreciating slow living. To truly fika requires a commitment to making time for a break in your day, the creation of a magical moment in the midst of the routine and the mundane.

In a post about Stockholm's hippest hood last year, I suggested that a worthwhile activity would be to stop by every bakery in town for comparative taste testing. I stand by this suggestion, but you don't need to fly all the way to Sweden to enjoy their iconic treat. You don't even need to go to Ikea. Here's my favorite recipe for making them at home.


- 7 tbsp unsalted butter {about 1 stick}
- 1.5 c milk
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 4.5 c all-purpose flour
- 1/4 c sugar
- 2 tsp cardamom seeds {crushed via coffee grinder or mortar & pestle}
- 1/4 tsp salt

- 7 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c sugar
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp cardamom seeds, crushed

- 1 egg, beaten
- Pearl sugar

Trip Styler Tip: Look for cardamom and pearl sugar in your local gourmet market.

Can't view the video? Watch it here.


Melt the butter in a saucepan, then stir in the milk. Heat until warm to the touch {about 110°F}. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in 3 tbsp of the warm milk/butter mixture. Stir and let sit for a few minutes until bubbles form on the yeast. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, cardamom and salt. Yes, fresh cardamom smells like a fancy Nordic spa. Don't become too relaxed; stay on task! Add the yeast mixture along with the remaining milk/butter.

Work the dough with your hands to form a ball. Transfer to a flat surface and knead until smooth and elastic, 3-5 mins. The dough is fully kneaded when you slice into it with a sharp knife and see small air bubbles. Return dough to the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, place it on your kitchen table and allow it to rise about one hour until it doubles in size. Do not take your eyes off the bowl for the full hour. Just kidding; that would be torture and cinnamon buns are the opposite of torture.

Grease a large baking sheet or cover it with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Set aside. Make the filling right before the dough finishes rising. Using a fork, cream the butter together with the sugar and spices until you get a spreadable paste.

When the dough has finished rising, place it on a flat, lightly floured surface. Roll it out with a rolling pin to a 13x21-inch rectangle. Place the rectangle on the counter with the long side facing you. Spread the filling on top of the rolled-out dough all the way to the edges. With a butter knife, mark three equal 7" sections in the dough, then fold the outer thirds one at a time on top of the middle section, creating three layers. Rotate the dough so the long side once again faces you and roll out the dough slightly. Cut 1-inch strips; you should have 18-22 strips.

Twist each strip into a rosette shape twice around your thumb and two fingers, pulling the end through the middle. There is no magic formula for this! Cover buns with a tea towel and allow them to rise for 40 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 435°F. Once the buns have risen, brush them with the beaten egg and sprinkle them with pearl sugar. Bake 8-10 minutes until they're golden on top. If you don't have pearl sugar, sprinkle the buns with granulated sugar as soon as you remove them from the oven.

This post is written by Trip Styler's Assistant Wayfarer/Editor Heather.

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[images by @heatherlovesit and recipe adapted from fika: the art of the swedish coffee break by anna brones and johanna kindvall]