Kötbullar and kanelbullar
Although I like the traditional weekly Friday afternoon drinks with colleagues, one of my favourite ways to end the working week is to kind of have to run out of the office to rush to the airport or station and take a plane or train or bus to somewhere. And on a Friday in February, it was one of those days. This time, the plane brought me to Stockholm. After having dropped my backpack in the hostel, it was certainly time to look for some food. But of course, dinner times in the Nordic countries are relatively early. So basically, there was not much choice besides McDonald’s. Clearly this was not quite the Swedish food I would have liked to try, but what can you do…
The next day it was raining, which was not much of a surprise in February. I looked for a bakery for breakfast and that turned out really well. It was a cozy place where I could try out the first of quite a few of the kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls) that I ate over the weekend. I had been told by several people that I should really try those, so clearly I could not let anybody down on this. Obviously, the fact that it was still raining was a good excuse to try a second one as well. The cinnamon rolls were a good base for a day of exploring, mostly in the rain. I think it says a lot about a city if it is still nice to explore on a rainy winter day, and I didn’t have issues enjoying Stockholm. It’s a good mixture of an old, pretty city center with a lot of coloured houses and hip modern places. Plus, plenty of interesting museums to warm up. Like the Vasa museum where I went. The museum is all about a 17th century war ship that sunk on its maiden voyage almost 400 years ago in the harbour of Stockholm. It was taken out of the water and renovated. With a lot of the wooden statues still more or less intact, it really took me back in time. After a day of sightseeing and even seeing an outside figure skating show, it was time for a more Swedish dinner than the American fast food of the day before. And what else should you try if not kötbullar, the Swedish meatballs made world-famous by IKEA. Luckily the hostel I stayed in was not only good because it actually had a sauna, but it also had a Swedish restaurant just next to it. Although clearly popular and incredibly full, I luckily found a tiny table to have my dinner. The meatballs did not disappoint, served with potatoes and loganberries, and neither did the local beer. But even after this meal, I was looking forward to the next morning, so that I could have a cinnamon roll again.
Luckily for me, the second day the weather was much nicer and I actually got to see Stockholm with sun as well. Of course, before leaving I had to buy several of the cinnamon rolls to take home with me for sharing. Little did I know that this would be my last trip before Corona hit us. So my next cinnamon rolls would be home made.
Ingredients (for around 10 buns)
- 200 grams of flour plus extra for dusting
- 3 grams of dried yeast
- 25 grams of granulated sugar
- Ground cardamom – half a teaspoon
- 120 ml milk
- Butter – 25 grams plus 60 grams
- 50 grams of brown sugar
- Cinnamon – a tablespoon
- 1 egg
Melt the 25 grams of butter. Meanwhile, mix the flour, granulated sugar, yeast and cardamom together in a large bowl. Add the milk, the melted butter and a pinch of salt. Whisk this until the dough comes together. It will be very sticky and actually more like a batter at this point.
Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place for around 2 hours to proof. Take the 60 grams of butter out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.
Once the dough has risen, prepare the filling by mixing the butter with the brown sugar and the cinnamon. On a clean working surface dusted with flour, roll the dough out to a square of around 20 by 20 centimeters. The dough is still quite soft, so make sure to have enough flour on your working surface. You can do most of this first rolling out by pressing the dough in shape with your hands, before using a rolling pin. Carefully spread the filling all over your dough in a thin layer. Fold the dough over itself: take the edges of the bottom part of the square and fold over for around a third of the size of the square. Do the same with the top part, so that you basically have a rectangle of dough of around 20 by 7 centimeters with the filling all covered. Roll this out again to a square of 20 by 20 centimeters.
Cut the dough into strips of around 2 centimeters wide. Take a strip at each of the ends and twist around itself. Then, role it twice around your fingers into a double circle and tug the end into the middle, like a knot. Do this with all the strips of dough and place them on a tray with baking paper. Let them proof for another 45 minutes. When the second proofing time has almost passed, pre-heat your oven to 180°C. Just before putting the buns in the oven, whisk the egg in a small bowl and give all buns an egg wash. Bake them for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.