One of the most popular exports of Scandinavian cuisine is the humble cinnamon bun.
- 50 g (2 oz) fresh yeast or 25 g (1 oz) active dried yeast
- Pinch sugar (if using dried yeast)
- 500 ml (17 fl oz) whole milk
- 75 g (3 oz) sugar
- 3 tsp ground cardamom
- 800 g–1 kg (1 lb 10 oz– 2 lb) strong bread flour, approximately, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 175 g (6 oz) butter, really soft
- 1 egg plus extra for brushing
- 175 g (6 oz) soft butter, softened
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 3 tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp vanilla sugar
- 100 g (3½ oz) caster sugar
- 100 g (3½ oz) light brown sugar
- Agave nectar or dark syrup, for brushing
- Pearl sugar, crushed sugar cubes or chopped nuts, for topping
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Rising time: 30-45 minutes + 20 minutes
To make the filling, cream ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
If you are using dried yeast, gently heat the milk in a saucepan to 36–37˚C (98–100°F), so it is finger warm, but not hot, then pour into a bowl, add a pinch of sugar and the dried yeast and whisk. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place to activate for about 15 minutes.
If you are using fresh yeast, gently heat the milk in a saucepan to 36–37˚C (97– 98°F), any hotter and the yeast will die. Add the milk and fresh yeast to a bowl and stir until dissolved.
I recommend using a stand mixer with the dough hook attached for this recipe. Start the machine and add the sugar to the milk mixture and allow to dissolve for a minute or two, then add the ground cardamom.
Add around 700 g (1 lb 7 oz) of the flour and stir, then add the salt, the softened butter and the egg. Keep the speed on medium and allow the dough to start forming. Add more flour as needed – you may need more or less than stated.
Keep kneading for about 5 minutes if using a mixer (longer if doing it by hand). Keep adding flour until you have a smooth mixture. When the dough starts to come away from the side of the bowl as you mix, there is enough flour in it.
Leave the dough in a bowl, cover with a tea towel or clingfilm and allow to rise for 30–45 minutes until doubled in size.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Using your hands, knead the dough and work in more flour if needed. The dough has enough flour when it starts to let go of the sides of the bowl. Cut the dough into two equal portions.
Using a rolling pin, roll out one piece of dough to a 40 x 50 cm (16 x 20 inch) rectangle.
Spread half the filling across the dough in an even, thin layer.
To make traditional swirls, simply roll the dough lengthways into a long roll and cut into 15 pieces, place on a lined baking tray, and leave – covered – to rise for another 20 minutes. Repeat with the second piece of dough.
If you are making cinnamon twists, fold the dough over twice and cut into 15 equal sized strips. Twist each one around itself and place on a lined baking tray. Always make sure all ends are tucked underneath or they will unravel during baking. Leave to rise for 20 minutes while you repeat the process with the second piece of dough.
Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, Gas Mark 6). Brush the buns lightly with beaten egg, then bake for 7–9 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Meanwhile, gently heat the agave nectar or syrup in a small saucepan until it is just warm.
Remove the buns from the oven and immediately brush lightly with the agave nectar or syrup, then sprinkle over the sugar or nuts and cover the tray with a clean, slightly damp tea towel. This prevents the buns from going dry.
• This is a recipe large enough for a class of schoolkids. You can halve it or, better still, make the full batch and freeze half. They freeze well, but do not keep long so either eat on the day of making or freeze.
Recipe and image from North by Brontë Aurell (Aurum Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group, hb, $39.99). Danish-born Brontë Aurell is a food writer and co-founder of ScandiKitchen, a café and grocery shop in London.