Kanelbullar & Sunflower Bread


Christmas and December is an ideal time to settle for warm spiced bakes. Cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, allspice, garam masala… now is the weather to use all of these in your eats.

Kanelbullar. With such a tongue-twister of a name, one would assume I’d forget all about it. But it was love at first ‘site’ when I saw a picture of this twisted Swedish bun in a European blog that that had some really gorgeous food pictures. Since it was all in Swedish or Danish (don’t remember), I was reading through with the help of Google translator. Somehow, I forgot to bookmark the website and for months afterwards I was searching for the same.

I know, a Google search for kanelbullar does result in hundreds of images and links, yet, I wanted to be sure about trying out the correct recipe since it was something I’d never eaten before. Then, last month, I saw this pretty little bread on My Diverse Kitchen and I just had had to make it.


I made these a day prior to my birthday, and, coincidentally, as it normally happens when I’m trying a new bread recipe, my little nephew was over. Whenever he’s over, he waits patiently and watches me shape all the breads I make. He was around when I made my first Kugelhopf and also when I baked a Sour Cream loaf for World Bread Day. He is my lucky charm when baking bread I must say. They always turn out wonderful when he’s around and makes me feel wonderful when he bites into them and gives me the thumbs-up.

I made the full recipe for the dough, but only used around two-thirds of it for making these buns. I used the rest of this dough to make a sunflower-shaped bread (check the shaping of this bread at My Diverse Kitchen).


The Kanelbullar recipe calls for lemon zest. Since I had quite a bit of lemon sugar that I’d made earlier, I used that in place of the zest and sugar. For now, enjoy these cinnamon twisted buns. For detailed pics on shaping these and more on the history and cultural reference of Kanelbullar, hop over to Aparna’s blog.



For the Starter:

Warm milk – 1 cup

Fresh yeast – 6 tsp

Plain flour/all-purpose flour/maida – 2 cups

For the Dough:

All of the Starter

All-purpose flour – 1 cup

Whole wheat flour – 1 cup

Salt – 1 tsp salt (use ½ tsp if using salted butter)

Cardamom pods – 6-8

Lemon zest – 2 tsp

Castor sugar (fine granulated sugar) – 1/3 cup

Butter (soft) – 60g

For the Filling:

Butter (soft) – 75g

Light brown sugar – 1/2 cup (I used a mix of Demerara sugar and white sugar)

Cinnamon – 2 tsp

Coarsely ground almonds – 1/3 cup

For the Topping:

Milk – ¼ cup

Granulated sugar – to sprinkle


Mix all ingredients under the Starter head into a sticky dough. Place the Starter dough into a large oiled bowl and cover it loosely. Refrigerate overnight. The dough was supposed to rise LOTS but mine rose just a wee bit. Must be the weather.

The second step calls for removing the dough 30 minutes before you are ready to work. Since my dough did not rise much, I removed it from the fridge in the morning and let it sit out for nearly 4 hours, by which time it rose pretty good.

Mix together soft butter, brown sugar and cinnamon with a spoon into a nice paste. Set aside

Divide the risen dough into smaller bits. Sift together both flours, cardamom powder and salt and add to the bowl with the starter bits. Also add the lemon zest and sugar and stir everything around with a wooden spoon till it comes together.

Next add soft butter and knead well with your hands till you have a smooth and elastic dough. Add some milk if it feels too dry or a little flour if it seems too sticky

Place the dough on to a lightly floured surface, and then roll it out into rectangle that’s about 20” by 12” in size. I shaped the dough into coiled snail shapes, which is what gives them the name Kanelbullar (cinnamon snails).

Spread the filling that you prepared earlier over half the rectangle and sprinkle the almond powder over this.

Fold the dough over in half and cut into 20 long strips with a sharp knife. There are three ways to shape them. Check this link for the step-by-step pics.

Let them rise for about 10 to 15 minutes till they look a little puffy but not swollen up (I placed them in a 100 degree oven for 30 minutes). Brush the snails with milk and sprinkle granulated sugar over them.

Bake them at 200C (400F) for about 15 minutes till they’re cooked, golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. If they’re browning too quickly, turn down the temperature by about 20C (65F) and bake them till done.

Let them cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.


  1. These are said to freeze well
  2. I made 10 large Kanelbullar with around two-thirds of the dough. If using the whole lot, you should get 20


This post is part of the Bake-a-thon series (started by Champa of Versatile Vegetarian Kitchen and being hosted by Srivalli at Cooking 4 All Seasonswhere I’m blogging about baked goodies all this month. Click on the link below to see more baked dishes from other wonderful bloggers

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