Kanelboller – part of a Norwegian diet
You’d be hard pressed to find a Norwegian who doesn’t absolutely LOVE cinnamon. One could say 3 out of 4 pastry recipes in Norway includes this delightful spice (exaggerating here and there) , and kanelboller, or kanelsnurrer as some call them (in English we know them as cinnamon buns) is one of the most popular of Scandinavian baked goods. Perhaps it is the warming and comforting sensation one gets from cinnamon that is so appealing to northern people – after all, we spend over half the year being cold. Cinnamon adds a little exotic element to what is otherwise a straightforward cuisine, using what is at hand to create a meal. I am unable to count how many versions I’ve had of kanelboller; in friends and family’s homes, in cafes, at functions and everywhere else you can imagine food being served, and there have been very few I’ve actually disliked. The key is to get them light and fluffy and moist – the rest will fall into place, because how can you go wrong when adding cinnamon to a recipe?? Spoken like a true Norwegian.
Last year there was a huge uproar among Scandinavian cinnamon lovers, as the EU’s regulations stipulated restrictions of the use of cinnamon, citing the dangers of over consuming the spice due to its content of coumarin, a fragrant organic chemical compound in cinnamon, suggesting it to be moderately toxic to the liver. Bakers all across Scandinavia fumed, citing to their history of using cinnamon in their breads and pastries for over 200 years. The Swedes circumvented the regulations, citing that kanelboller were “Tradition food” and were allowed a higher dosage in their food. I find this to be quite funny, but also shows Norwegians and our fellow Scandiavians’ attachment to this popular spice.
I’ve covered cinnamon buns in the past here at Arctic Grub, but I wanted to develop a dairy free and egg less recipe since I decided a few months ago to no longer include these products in my diet. If you think eggs or dairy are needed to make a gorgeous dough – boy, will this one prove you wrong!! In fact, dare I say that this is perhaps the best recipe for kanelboller I’ve come up with to date?? You be the judge.
I would highly recommend using fresh yeast in this recipe. There is something magical about the scent and consistency of dough made with fresh yeast – something that truly reminds me of being in Norway in someone’s kitchen while yet another delightful pastry is baking away. While I am fully aware this is harder to come by in the U.S., I am lucky enough where my local market’s pastry department will sell me their fresh yeast by the pound. I suggest you ask the bakery department at your grocery store or bakery – many people are happy to make a few extra dollars selling their base ingredients!
The dough for these kanelboller is truly light and airy- a dream to handle! Another mention is that the spread in the middle should not be excessive – just a thin, even layer is enough. Remember, these aren’t super decadent cinnamon buns as we’re used to in the U.S. where both the fat and glaze is dripping and one bite seems enough before we deem it “too much” and “I can’t have anymore”. This is a bun that is not too sweet but that you (unfortunately??!) could eat three or four of in one sitting! :)
DAIRY FREE KANELBOLLER
1 1/2 cup soy milk or other plant based milk
100 grams or 1/2 cup vegan butter
50 grams fresh yeast (or 1 packet dry yeast)
500 grams or roughly 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
100 grams or 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp baking powder
For the filling:
113 grams (1 stick) or 1/2 cup vegan butter, softened
60 grams (1/4 cup) light brown sugar
60 grams (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
Additional vegan butter (melted) and sugar for brushing and sprinkling on buns
In a small pot, heat up the soy /plant based milk and butter until luke warm, around 98.6 Fahrenheit (37 Celcius). Crumble in the fresh yeast or dry yeast if using. In a large bowl, combine half the flour with the rest of the dry ingredients, pour in the yeast milk mixture and add the rest of the flour until a firm, smooth dough shapes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm spot to rise for about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, combine the ingredients to the filling in a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (210 degrees Celcius) and spray two baking sheets.
Punch down the dough and roll it out to a rectangle about 15 x 20 inches (40 x 50 cm). Spread the filling thinly all over the dough and start rolling from the widest and closest edge until you have a “sausage”.
Using a dough cutter, divide into about 15-20 pieces and place cut side up on the prepared baking sheet.
Cover with a towel and let rise again for about 20 minutes.
Brush the buns with melted butter and sprinkle some brown or regular granulated sugar on top. Place in oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes until nice and golden. Note: If you are a fan of glazed cinnamon buns, you can mix a bit of soy milk and confectioners sugar together until you achieve a thick but runny consistency and spread the buns with these after they have cooled down.