Use the power of sourdough to create tantalizing Sourdough kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Rolls) with an incredible depth of flavor and a soft, airy texture.
From getting started with sourdough to achieving the perfect flavor and unleashing your creativity, this guide has got you covered. Plus, find troubleshooting tips to overcome any obstacles along the way. So, get ready to elevate your baking game and create the most delicious sourdough kanelbullar.
This recipe originally appeared in my book Celebrate with Bread Baking, but I adjusted a few parts of the recipe to make it 100% sourdough.
Getting Started with Sourdough
To begin your sourdough baking journey, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of working with sourdough starter. This living organism is the key to achieving the distinct flavor and texture that sets sourdough kanelbullar apart.
Sourdough makes this version of kanelbullar unique because not only are they more digestible, but the fermentation timeline makes the overall timeline longer than versions made with conventional store bought yeast.
This recipe also uses less sugar than more traditional versions for two important reasons:
- Sourdough and long fermentation gives the dough the time to develop more flavor so using large amounts of sugar isn’t needed, whereas conventional yeast breads use a lot of sugar to have a good flavor in a short timeline.
- Too much sugar in sourdough recipes can cause the fermentation to progress too quickly because it creates a large amount of available food for the wild yeast. This is an issue because we want our sourdough bread to be more digestible which means that the flour needs to be the primary source of food for the wild yeast.
But fear not, even if you’ve never worked with sourdough before, we’ve got you covered with step-by-step guidance to get you started. See this post all about sourdough starters or get my free Sourdough Quick Start Guide!
Culture of Sourdough Kanelbullar
Speaking of culture… sourdough starter, culture… anyway… Kanelbullar comes from Sweden and is known to the Swedish as “cinnamon snails”.
There is a tradition known as Fika in Sweden when people pause in their day to enjoy coffee, some pastries like kanelbullar, and spend time with others. This pause in the day provides a sense of calm and connection.
October 4th is actually Kanelbullar Day in Sweden! A holiday dedicated to a pastry sounds like a fun tradition to me!
The fillings are not always cinnamon sugar. There are many kinds of kanelbullar, but this cinnamon filled one with a hint of cardamom in the dough is very traditional and delicious.
I hope that you can experience a pause of calm and connection when you enjoy these with your family and/or friends!
Mastering the Art of Kanelbullar
Mastering the art of Kanelbullar goes beyond simply following a recipe. It involves honing your skills and understanding the techniques that will elevate your baking to a whole new level.
In the next sections, we’ll explore the essential steps and expert tips that will help you achieve the perfect flavor in your sourdough kanelbullar. Get ready to infuse your buns with irresistible aromas and flavors!
Achieving the Perfect Flavor
When it comes to baking sourdough kanelbullar, a key aspect that separates a good bun from a truly exceptional one is the flavor. By carefully selecting and combining the right ingredients, as well as understanding how to optimize the fermentation process, you can infuse your kanelbullar with amazing flavors.
To achieve the perfect flavor, start by using high-quality ingredients. Sourdough kanelbullar relies heavily on the taste and texture provided by the dough, so it is crucial to use the best ingredients available.
Choose a quality flour that is fresh and from a reputable mill. Organic flour is a great choice. For white flour, organic isn’t always necessary if you choose a good brand. King Arthur Flour and Central Milling Company are two that I trust for good quality white baking flours.
This recipe adds cardamom to the dough which creates a unique twist. And the hint of cardamom pairs beautifully with the cinnamon in the filling. Here are my favorite sources for these spices:
In addition to the filling, the fermentation process plays a crucial role in developing the perfect flavor in your sourdough kanelbullar. Take your time and allow the dough to rise slowly and fully. This not only improves the texture but also enhances the flavor.
Fermentation & Flavor
The longer fermentation time allows the sourdough starter to develop and create a more complex taste. You can consider employing techniques such as overnight proofing in the refrigerator, which can contribute to a deeper, more nuanced flavor. To do this, allow the dough to proof until expanded to 1 1/2 times in size up to 4 1/2 hours then put in the fridge overnight and bring it out to come to room temperature for 30-60 minutes in the morning.
By combining superior ingredients, experimenting with flavors, and patiently nurturing the fermentation process, you can achieve a level of flavor in your sourdough kanelbullar that will create a memorable breakfast or brunch with your family or friends.
Troubleshooting Tips for Sourdough Kanelbullar
In this section, I’ll provide you with troubleshooting tips to ensure your sourdough kanelbullar turn out perfectly every time.
One challenge you might face is dough that fails to rise properly. If your sourdough kanelbullar are not reaching the desired level of rise, it could be due to a weak or inactive sourdough starter. To ensure an active starter, make sure you maintain regular feedings and avoid using a starter that hasn’t been refreshed recently. Additionally, allowing the dough to rise in a warm environment on a upper shelf or near a heat source can be helpful.
Bonus to this sourdough recipe is that there are no eggs in the dough which is a controversial topic among sourdough bakers. Many people are apprehensive about leaving dough at room temperature for hours when there is raw egg in the dough. If that’s a concern, you have nothing to fear here!
For my bulk ferment, I like to put my dough into an airtight container. I use a 4-qt. Cambro container and lid set which also has measurement lines to gauge the volume growth.
Bakers may also encounter difficulties when shaping their kanelbullar. If you’re finding it challenging to roll the dough into a tight spiral, there are a few tricks you can try.
First, make sure your dough has properly fermented and has reached the ideal consistency. If the dough is too sticky, lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin to prevent sticking. Make sure to firmly press the uncoated edges together to create a good seal of the dough around the filling before cutting the strips.
Please note, having perfect uniform knots is not the goal. I love how there’s a consistent shape but they have a more rustic shape than American style cinnamon rolls.
See the video linked above to see how to shape these rolls.
Lastly, achieving the perfect golden-brown color on your kanelbullar can sometimes be a challenge. If you find that your pastries aren’t getting an even golden brown color, rotate pan then switch the bake mode to convection and add 1-2 minutes, keeping a close eye on the bake.
By addressing these common troubleshooting areas and arming yourself with the knowledge to overcome them, you’ll be well-equipped to create stunning and delicious sourdough kanelbullar. So let’s dive in and troubleshoot our way toward baking perfection.
Get the coffee ready for Sourdough Kanelbullar
You now have the essential knowledge and techniques to elevate your baking skills and create mouthwatering sourdough kanelbullar.
As you continue your baking journey, don’t be afraid to push the boundaries and unleash your creativity in the kitchen. Have fun exploring new flavor combinations and innovative techniques. With each batch of sourdough kanelbullar, you have the opportunity to refine and improve your skills, making each batch better than the last.
Remember, the perfect batch of sourdough kanelbullar is just a recipe away. Just make sure you have some fresh coffee (or strong tea) ready to brew!
Share your bake with me
I would love to hear from you! If you make this, send me a note, leave a review comment, or tag me on facebook or instagram @livingbreadbaker
I enjoy seeing how you share this bread with your family and friends.
Make sure to share this with someone who loves sourdough baking!
Need more sourdough help?
A competent guide is the big difference from floundering in sourdough with information overwhelm to having confidence and ease in your sourdough baking.
If you are just getting started in sourdough, I’d love to support you with my books or online courses.
My Intro. to Sourdough online course is comprehensive with video tutorials for each stage of the process to help new or aspiring sourdough home bakers gain a solid foundation for sourdough, the traditional way, to learn all the basics, language, techniques, and the process from start to finish to make sourdough bread. My teaching is straight forward and makes the whole process seem simple. I have helped launch hundreds of eager sourdough bakers onto their own inspiring sourdough journeys.
I also have a Once-a-Week No Knead Sourdough online course, which is my strategy for busy weeks to have sourdough on hand ready to make into country bread, sandwich loaves, English muffins, pizza, bagels, and more! This course is great for absolute sourdough beginners to just get familiarity with sourdough or for veteran sourdough bakers who need to simplify their baking schedule.
If you are just starting on your sourdough journey, you can get my free Quick Start Sourdough Guide to begin learning some of the key terms and concepts in sourdough. Learn the difference between the sourdough stages of active sourdough starter and sourdough discard as well as how to care for a starter.
Perfect for new or experienced bakers, I have a full Sourdough Time Planning Workbook with 8 templates ready to fill in and a baking journal. The 8 templates include 4 different ways to make classic sourdough country breads, 3 time planning worksheets for enriched sourdough bread depending on serving time target, and a blank template. The baking journal goes over baker’s percentages and how to take notes on your sourdough bakes.
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- Food Scale
- large bowl
- plastic dough scraper
- 2 Baking Sheets
- Parchment Paper
- 2 small bowls
- Rolling Pin
- rolling pizza cutter or knife
- Pastry brush
- Cooling Rack
For the starter
- 30 grams sourdough starter 2 tablespoons
- 100 grams water ¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons
- 100 grams all-purpose four ⅔ cup
For the dough
- 200 grams whole milk 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons
- 30 grams water 1/4 cup
- 200 grams active starter about 2 cups
- 30 grams white cane sugar 2 tablespoons
- 500 grams all-purpose flour 3 1/2 cups
- 70 grams unsalted butter softened (5 tablespoons)
- 6 grams salt 1 teaspoon
For the filling
- 65 grams unsalted butter at room temperature (5 tablespoons)
- 100 grams white cane sugar ½ cup
- 7 grams ground cinnamon 2 teaspoons
For the egg wash
- 1 large egg
- 1/8 teaspoon water
- 2 tablespoons pearl sugar or sliced almonds optional
- MAKE THE STARTER: About 6 to 12 hours before mixing your dough, combine the starter or yeast, water, and flour in a clean container. Cover and leave at room temperature. Once active, it will double in volume and become full of large bubbles.
- WARM THE MILK: Heat the milk until it reaches a temperature of 110°F to 120°F.
- WEIGH THE INGREDIENTS: Making sure to tare after each addition, combine 200 grams of warm milk, 200 grams of starter, and the sugar in a mixing bowl. Allow the sugar to dissolve, then add the flour and cardamom.
- MIX & KNEAD: Mix the ingredients together until they are fully combined. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes by hand or 2 to 4 minutes with a dough hook in a stand mixer, until the dough is smooth, is no longer sticky, and releases easily from the bowl or work surface.
- ADD BUTTER: Slowly add the softened unsalted butter one tablespoon at a time. After each addition, knead the butter into the dough until it is fully incorporated.
- BULK FERMENT: Cover the dough and ferment for 5 to 8 hours, until doubled in volume.
- PREPARE THE BAKING SHEETS: Line two flat baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- PREPARE THE FILLING: Mix the butter, sugar, and cinnamon together until smooth. Set aside.
- SHAPE: Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Dust flour onto a rolling pin and roll the dough into a 22-by-12-inch rectangle. Use a spatula to spread the filling evenly across the surface of the dough, leaving a ½-inch margin along the long sides. Fold the dough in half from the long edge and press to seal. With a rolling pizza cutter or knife, cut the dough from folded edge to sealed edge into 16 (1 3/8-inch) strips. Gently stretch a dough piece out and twist in opposite directions 4 times until it (about 8 times if only twisted in one direction), then twist one end around the other to make a loose knot shape. Press the edges of the strip underneath to seal. Place the knot on one of the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough.
- PROOF: Cover and proof for 2 to 5 hours, until about 1½ times larger in volume. Touching the dough should leave an indentation when it is finished proofing.
- PREHEAT: Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- MAKE THE EGG WASH: Beat the egg and water together. Brush all over the kanelbullar knots to cover every crevice. Sprinkle with pearl sugar or sliced almonds (if using).
- BAKE: Place the first baking sheet in the oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the knots are evenly golden brown. Move the cooked kanelbullar to a cooling rack and move the second sheet of kanelbullar to the oven to bake.
- COOL AND SERVE: Allow the kanelbullar to cool for about 5 to 10 minutes. Serve fresh with coffee.