Surdegs Kanelbullar, Sourdough Cinnamon Buns. Made easy

kanelbullar-cinnamon buns

Cinnamon buns are a must in Sweden. They are generally eaten in the afternoon, with coffee and milk (here called “latte”, an abbreviation of the Italian caffe-latte) and they are usually yeast-based.

Being a strong believer of the many health benefits of sourdough fermentation (plus I do love the deep flavor it gives to bread) I tried my hands at a yeast-free version.

When looking at available recipes in Swedish and English, the process looked always quite complicated. A 24-h version is very popular here in Sweden.

Being always struggling with time, I realized such a long process would not have worked for me. So I made up my own version, with a shorter rising time of 8 hours. Enough for a healthy fermentation and actually doable.

One thing though to take into account… room temperature (especially for the final proofing) was quite high. Comprised between 24 and 28 degrees. If you don’t have a room which can get that warm I recommend using your oven. Turned off and with the light on.


You Need
160 g active liquid starter
800 g all-purpose flour
390 g milk
50 g water
90 g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoon ground cardamon
150 g butter

150 g butter (room temperature)
90 g sugar
2 tablespoon cinnamon

250 Brown sugar
200 Water
Pearl sugar (optional)

How To
1. Add all the ingredients but the butter and knead until you have a smooth dough.
2. Now add the butter at room temperature, little by little, always kneading. Keep kneading until butter is fully incorporated and your dough doesn’t break easily when stretched.
3. Transfer the dough in a plastic container or a large bowl, stretch and fold a few times in the bowl and the n let rest, covered, in a warm spot for about 4 hours.
4. Always check on the dough. When you see that volume has increased at least 1 and 1/2 times since the start, then you are ready to roll the dough on a heavily floured surface into a long rectangle about 1 cm thick. If you do not have much kneading space, divide the dough in two and make two shorter rectangles).
5. Prepare the filling by combining the ingredients in a little bowl.
6. Spread the filling on 2/3 of the dough, lenghtwise, and then fold the dough on itself, making three folds, lenghtwise, starting from the part without filling.
7. Cut 1 1/2 cm wide stripes from the folded dough.
8. Roll one end of each stripe around your finger and roll the rest all around it, removing the knot from your finger in the end and closing the free edge under. It is fun! Here you can see a video of the traditional Swedish way.
9. Place the buns on parchment paper and over baking trays and let rest somewhere warm (your oven with the light on, for instance) for about 4 hours.
10. Make a syrup with the brown sugar and the water and let it cool.
11. Brush the buns with some water or milk and eventually add pearled sugar if you can find it. Otherwise leave them as they are.
12. Bake at 230 C for 10 minutes than lower the temperature to 190 and bake until golden brown also on the bottom of the buns.
13. While the buns are cooling down, brush them with the syrup.

kanelbulle-cinnamon bun

kanelbullar-cinnamon buns

CONSIDERATIONS: I was very satisfied with the dough, it rose wonderfully well, hope it works for you too. As for the shaping, I think perfection is still to achieve, but this was surely a good start -my daughter’s Swedish friends said they tasted like store bought and coming from a kid that is a compliment, I am sure.

kanelbullar-cinnamon buns

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Barbara Elisi

Hi there! I am the "soul" behind Bread & Companatico. My main interest is the preservation of bread tradition and craft, with an eye to health. I hope you are having a good time reading this blog, and please don't be shy to connect with me through comments or emails and do keep on bread-ing! 🙂

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11 replies
  1. Milagros Echenique
    Milagros Echenique says:

    Love that “easy way” and no yeast version ..Thank you Barbara …They look delicious …I’m gonna try this weekend 😉

  2. Andreas
    Andreas says:


    I am intrigued by the recepie, but it does not fit my schedule well. Do you think that replacing the warm 4 hour warm proofing with an overnight cold proof could be possible (and give similar results)?


    • Barbara Elisi
      Barbara Elisi says:

      of course cold proofing is always an option. not sure about timing for the final proofing in this case, but it would most likely longer. also, I don’t know how this dough would behave with a cold bulk (in terms of times, what I mean is that 12 h in the cold may not be as effective as 4 h warm), curious to hear about your experiment. I was planning to try this myself, now I have a further reason.

    • Barbara Elisi
      Barbara Elisi says:

      hi there Jenni! so long time not “seeing” you 🙂 glad you like these, can’t wait to see your version!

    • Barbara Elisi
      Barbara Elisi says:

      hi there Karin!!
      I actually have a confession to make: I don’t like cardamom and I don’t like cinnamon buns 🙂
      but my daugther loves them, so I had to learn!

  3. Anna
    Anna says:

    Ciao Barbara,

    I have just found your blog love it!

    I’m Italian, my boyfriend is Swedish, we both have lived in London for ages. We both love kanelbullar (who doesn’t?). Is there any way – you think – to make these vegan? A sourdough version with no butter?

    • Barbara Elisi
      Barbara Elisi says:

      Hi Anna!
      Thank you for stopping by. Of course you can do a vegan version of these: substitute butter with margarine. The result will be very similar, but of course margarine is less healthy than butter, however, if eaten once in a while it won’t kill you 🙂 good luck and let me know how you like them!


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