Saintly Swedish cinnamon rolls

Edible: Kanelbullar are a daily Swedish staple, but here's a saintly hack...
I saw a programme recently that said Swedes eat (on average) at least one cinnamon roll every day of the year. It makes you wonder how they are all still in good shape - must be something to do with outdoor summers and jumping in cold lakes! There's also some evidence that cinnamon itself has positive effects on glycaemic control and may one day even be tried out as an add-on treatment in diabetes.

My other half loves cinnamon rolls and this weekend we made up a batch according to this recipe, which works a treat. But I also tried out a quick, quiet hack to make some that were a bit less butter-laden. OK, so he could just about tell in the taste test... But the hacked version are still really tasty and are much, much better for you...

The recipe below makes for a lovely cinnamon roll, and will produce about 20 of them. The absolute key is fresh yeast, which is harder and harder to find in the UK these days. Luckily, Morrisons seems to still believe in fresh yeast baking and Ocado will ever deliver Swedish fresh yeast! 


  • 75g butter
  • 400g flour
  • 50g sugar
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamon

  • 75g butter (room temperature)
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 egg
  • Pearl sugar


Warm the milk to 37 degrees C. Add the butter, yeast, sugar, salt and cardamon and whisk together. Sift in the flour slowly, mixing to form a dough.

Knead on a floured surface for 5 minutes and leave to rise for 30 minutes.

Knock back the dough and divide into two. Roll each out to form a rectangle.

Blend the butter, cinnamon and sugar for the filling, then spread over the dough rectangles. Roll them up along the long side. Slice into even pieces about 2cm each. Turn them onto their side on a greased baking tray with sufficient space between them to expand. 

TIP: Don't worry if they look a bit pale and squashed just after you have cut them - the yeast will blow them up again to be nice and round! I did read a tip somewhere that using (unflavoured!!) dental floss to cut them will give a perfect round shape.

Leave to rise a further 40 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 250 degrees C. Brush with egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar just before placing in the oven. 

Bake for 5-10 minutes so they are still squidgy in the middle...!

MY HACK: Apple sauce makes for butter-free buns!

Replacing butter with apple sauce will give you an (almost) fat-free cinnamon roll and also allow you to cut down on the added sugar, as apple sauce is naturally a bit sweet. You can replace half the butter weight if you want something semi-indulgent or all of it if you are feeling saintly. 

If you use applesauce as the filling base you can just add the cinnamon to it - there is no need for the additional sugar.

FINALLY: Opt for nut milk as well and go totally dairy-free.

These can be made completely dairy free if you also swap out the milk for an alternative. Enjoy! 


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