Have you noticed Cook’s Illustrated has more colour pages, and has started to let their writers explore more culinary traditions? It’s happened slowly, and I like the increased variety in every issue. With hygge and fika popping up everywhere online recently, I wasn’t surprised that the magazine featured a Swedish pastry eaten with coffee.
Kanelbullar is a Swedish version of a cinnamon bun, incorporating fragrant cardamom into the dough. The recipe is from the magazine’s Jan/Feb 2022 issue.
To get the strongest cardamom flavour possible, the directions encourage you to grind the powder from pods yourself. Even though I think my ground cardamom (from an Indian grocery) is plenty potent, my daughter and I plucked the brown and black seeds out by hand, then pulsed them in our spice mill until it resembled coarse black pepper.
One non-traditional component in this recipe is the use of flour paste, made by microwaving milk and flour. This tangzhong technique has shown up previously in the magazine’s challah and other baked goods. This helps to make the dough moist but still easy to work with. What I found a bit annoying is that the dough chills in a 9x13” pan, which isn’t used to bake the buns later. Because it’s really sticky, I needed a plastic bench scraper to remove all of it from the pan.
My filling mixture was a bit too cold to spread easily, so I used my fingertips to smush it around and try to coat every bit of dough. Shaping these buns required a bit of practise, but got easier after the first few. I skipped the topping because I didn’t have any coarse sugar of any kind on hand.
Fresh out of the oven, these were absolutely amazing. The cardamom in the dough made these buns much much more interesting than regular cinnamon buns. And I like that the cinnamon sugar filling wasn’t too sweet. I don’t think the pearl sugar is a requirement unless you’re aiming to replicate the traditional look. Highly recommended.