No one does spiced buns quite like Scandinavia, except maybe England via America’s Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery. This particular cinnamon roll recipe is adapted from The Violet Bakery Cookbook, as featured all over the internet (see here, here, and here).
For the past year, I’ve been one lucky woman living right around the corner from Violet Bakery in Hackney, East London (we actually didn’t pick our flat location based on the bakery’s proximity… consciously, at least). I gawk at these plump, sparkling rolls in the window every day while out walking my puppy, Agnes, who is quite popular with the wonderful Violet staff!
Everything I’ve had from Violet Bakery has been the best-ever of its type. Let me share what living so close to such a place allows you: We had the Amalfi lemon cake for my partner’s birthday, devoured their seasonal gariguette strawberry cupcakes throughout the spring and summer, tucked into a wedge of buttery salted caramel cake while watching the Great British Bake Off finale, enjoyed scones with clotted cream and apricot jam on a rainy London day, got lost in a tahini-halva brownie on a random Tuesday, and, if I’m being honest with you and myself, much more. I’ve had a sweet year. I trust their bakes, so I knew the famous cinnamon bun recipe wouldn’t let me down, even in a home kitchen setting.
This recipe does not yield a traditional, doughy cinnamon bun that’s the size of a dinner plate and slathered with cream cheese frosting, nor a knotted Swedish cardamom bun. They do, however, combine both cinnamon and cardamom in good amounts with a fast pastry-like dough that’s a breeze to work with and skips sometimes-fussy yeast altogether. The result, a bun that melts in your mouth, like a sturdier shortbread or pie crust crammed with a thick layer of spiced brown sugar.
Not only better than regular cinnamon buns, they resist drying out too quickly because of their yeast-free, super-buttery dough. And, they’re baked tidily in muffin tins which allows the sugary filling to caramelize and lock in moisture. Their exterior gets crisp like a proper pie crust while the interior stays soft. They’re the perfect cinnamon bun.
I took these decadent coils to a friend’s Christmas dinner party, where we enjoyed them with custard and double cream, but you truly don’t need anything to dress them up. They’d also be a fantastic make-ahead (not bake-ahead) sweet treat for a holiday brunch, “cookie” exchange, or for your Christmas morning breakfast. I doubled the batch and gifted a handful as well. I think these are really special–and very worth sharing.
Quick Scandinavian Cinnamon Buns
This recipe is a tweaked version of the famous cinnamon buns from Violet Bakery. No yeast, no-knead, no fuss, and more in line with Danish cinnamon buns/snails and Swedish cardamom buns. Perfect for a holiday brunch or sweets tray, but I like them any old day with a cup of coffee for fika. I added a touch of ground rolled oats to the dough and loaded the cinnamon sugar up with a balance of cardamom, which I like better (the original recipe calls for the cardamom in the dough only). I skipped the granulated sugar dunk after baking, adorning with European pearl sugar before baking instead to give them a touch more Scandinavian winter charm. I formed the buns and kept tightly covered in the refrigerator overnight before baking for that “overnight cinnamon roll” feature, but you can make and bake on the same day in under 1 hour, or tightly wrap your muffin pan and freeze them until you’re ready to bake.
Makes 12 buns
Prep time: 35 min
Cook time: 25 min
75g (1/3 cup) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing pan
250g (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) dark brown brown sugar
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamom
515g (4 cups) unbleached, organic all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
69g (3/4 cup) oat flour or 1/2 cup additional all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp ground cardamom
240g (1 cup plus 1 Tbsp) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
300g (1 1/4 cups) cold milk (Note: I used whole milk and slightly less than the 1 1/4 cups called for; hold back and see where you’re at before adding it all in)
Pearl sugar, for topping or follow this method for a granulated sugar dip
- Heat the oven to 390°F (200°C) (355°F/180°C convection). Generously butter a 12-cup deep muffin pan.
- For the filling, melt the butter and leave in a warm place so that it remains liquid. Mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom until no lumps remain. Set aside.
- For the dough, in the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine all the dry ingredients with the cubes of butter and mix until you have a coarse meal. Slowly pour in the cold milk (see note above; I needed less milk than called for) while the mixer is running, until the dough forms into a ball and comes away from the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and leave to rest for a few minutes. Fold the dough gently over itself once or twice to pull it all together let the dough rest a second time, for 10 minutes.
- Clear a large surface, dust lightly with more flour, and roll out the dough into a large rectangle until almost 1/8 inch (5mm) thick. Brush the surface of the dough (I used my hands) with the melted butter and, before the butter hardens, sprinkle the cinnamon-cardamom sugar on to the butter. You want a good, slightly thick layer.
- Now roll the long side, keeping it neat and tidy. Gently tug the dough toward you to get a taut roll while rolling away from you in a spiral. Once it’s all rolled up, gently squeeze the roll to ensure it’s the same thickness throughout. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll crosswise into 12 even slices. Take a slice of the cinnamon roll, peel back about 2 inches (5cm) of the loose end of the pastry and fold back under the roll to loosely cover the bottom of the roll. Place in the muffin pan, flap side down. Repeat with remaining slices. Gently press a sprinkle of pearl sugar into the tops of each bun.
- Bake the buns for 25 to 30 minutes, or until deep-golden and well-risen. As soon as they’re out of the oven, flip them over onto a wire cooling rack so that they don’t stick to the pan; an offset spatula is helpful here–be careful of the hot sugar on your fingers. These are best served while still warm, but can also be served at room temperature or re-warmed in a low oven. Store in loosely covered at room temperature for up to 1 day, or freeze airtight up to 2 months.