Fabulous Fika

Fika is a Swedish custom, meaning to have a break. This usually means coffee and a pastry or bun and across Sweden, the kanelbullen or cinnamon bun is one of the sweet treats served with coffee. There are other cakes and biscuits served, but the kanelbullen is one that I’ve had ever since I can remember. It’s a swirled sweet bread, with a layer of buttery, sugar-cinnamon spread before the dough is rolled up and sliced, often with the white dots of pearled sugar on top. These buns are always on sale in the blue and yellow IKEA stores, both as a frozen version you can heat up in the oven and in pre-baked multi bags. I’ve been known to buy a bag and it never make it home due to the scoffing of buns in the car on the way – although they are amazing after a 10 second face-lift in the microwave…if you can wait that long.


I’m 1/4 Swedish, on my mother’s side and although I’ve never met my Swedish relatives or set foot on Swedish soil, we’ve grown up with a slight Swedish influence in our diets; namely pepparkakor (Swedish gingerbread biscuits/cookies) at Christmas and the subject of this post, the hallowed bun. Pepparkakor are very thin, very gingerbready cookies usually paired with glögg (mulled wine) but also excellent with milk, as the “bread” to an ice cream sandwich and made into ice cream as I found out in Brighton one summer, at Scoop and Crumb.  They are also bloody easy to choke on…you have been warned!

There are few ladies on Instagram I follow, one who is Swedish and one who isn’t who have entertained my bun addiction and then fuelled it even further by posting a picture of some home-made kanelbullen – naturally I had to ask which recipe she used and kindly, I was directed to Donal Skehan’s Swedish Cinnamon bun recipe. I’ve just finished baking the first attempt and safe to say, the recipe is a hit – 2 have been wolfed down fresh out of the oven. Give it a go – you won’t regret it.

For the dough:

  • 400ml milk
  • 110g butter
  • 2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 750g plain flour – NOT bread flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom – I couldn’t find this ANYWHERE! So, I used 1.5 tsp of ground all spice.
  • 4 tbsp of pearl sugar (demerara sugar will work too)
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

  • 110g soft butter
  • 90g sugar
  • 2 tbsp of cinnamon
  1. Heat the butter over very low heat until melted and then add the milk. Heat until lukewarm and then remove from the heat and whisk in both sachets of dried yeast.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar and spice until thoroughly mixed and then stir in the warm milk/butter mix.
  3. Mix until a rough but sticky dough forms. Keep stirring with a wooden spoon (and strong arms) until the dough becomes less sticky. You may need a smidge more flour – I did.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5-8 mins until the dough is smooth and no longer sticks to the work top. It will be very very soft, this is what it should be like.
  5. In a large floured bowl, put the kneaded dough back, cover with cling film and then a tea towel and allow to rise, somewhere warm and if possible, dark – leave for approx 45 minutes.
  6. In a smaller bowl, beat the butter, sugar and cinnamon into a spreadable paste – if it looks very soft, shove back into the fridge…you want it just spreadable not liquid.
  7. Pre-heat the oven to 220C  or Gas Mark 8 and line 2 baking sheets with grease proof paper.
  8. When the dough has risen, punch it back, 2-3 times in the bowl and then halve.
  9. Roll half the dough out to 3mm thick and into a rectangle, about the length of a long chopping board or 2 hand spans long (very technical I know).
  10. Spread half the butter/cinnamon mix all over the dough, roll up along the long edge and slice into 12 pieces.
  11. Do the same with the other half of the dough and stick these 12 on the 2nd baking sheet.
  12. Reduce the oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5
  13. Brush with the beaten egg, add the pearled sugar if you have it. I used demerara, about 1/8 tsp per bun
  14. Bake for 20-25 mins


These are best eaten warm, as soon after baking as possible. I’m taking some to work with me tomorrow and I’ll freeze some too. Defrost at room temp and refresh in a microwave for 10-15 seconds (depending on your microwave).