Swedish Kanelbullar fresh from the oven!
I know that VeganMoFo is going on, and in an ideal world where I have the creative energy to blog that much I totally would. But I’m still sewing curtains, organizing our new place, feeding my lady and our two feline friends, getting up at 545am to work an an increasingly unrewarding job, and trying to find a way to stay warm in the part of the year where the heat hasn’t been turned on but you wouldn’t open your windows for any fresh air either. So I am going to do my best to bring you some good recipes and longer posts this month, but my written output will definitely not match the vegan bloggers out there who are blogging every weekday of the month! With that said:
Welcome to the first Swedish feature blog post… I’m taking a liberty today in including this recipe for Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns/Rolls) under the term “Dagens Rätt” (which means dish of the day, or daily special) as it tends to refer to savory meals. And let’s face it – no matter how good and how many you eat, cinnamon buns don’t really qualify as a square meal. I’m not saying these are the most unhealthy treat you could indulge in, but it’s no fruit salad either!
I think Swedish treats are a good introduction for the “uninitiated.” Tradtionally, desserts and breads in Sweden include a lot of dairy and usually some eggs. But as even a young vegan like myself (I’m going by my near two-year vegan-ness) knows, there are plenty of delicious alternatives for awesome baking results out there. And for ease, this recipe didn’t even call for eggs (except as a wash), and it requested “butter OR margarine” (thank you Earth Balance!). And then it was just a matter of deciding which vegan milk I wanted to use (I went with unsweetened almond).
On the matter of the cardamom used in the dough, I highly recommend freshly crushing or grinding the seeds yourself, but if you can’t get a hold of cardamom seeds there are measurements included for the pre-ground kind, too. Not only does crushing the seeds yourself give you the freshest flavor, but the variable fineness of the home-ground also makes for a really pretty speckled dough.
Cardamom: a bottle of seeds and a pile of freshly ground
Pearl sugar is esential in my opinion for that extra Swedish touch, but if you don’t have a fancy pants grocery or a Scandinavian shop or an IKEA near you, you could always ice them American-style. Or just leave them off altogether. In Swedish groceries they’re all over the place, so making them harder to find here is just to make people feel fancier-than-thou I guess. But if you can find them, the crunchy sweetness is so good on top definitely worth it!
I didn’t want to deal with too much extra math, so this is a full-size recipe converted into imperial measurements for my North American friends. It makes a lot, which worked well for bringing most of them to some happy coworkers. But I think it would probably halve pretty easily too. Enjoy them for breakfast or in the afternoon with a warm cup of coffee (a Swedish “fika” is akin to the English afternoon tea, though most Swedes get their kicks from strong, dark coffee). They’re especially nice reheated in the toaster oven.
Swedish Kanelbullar (makes 30-45 rolls depending on how thick you slice them):
For the dough:
1/2 c + 2.5 tbsp vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine
2 c unsweetened, plain milk alternative
1 tbsp + 2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 tsp salt (only if your margarine doesn’t contain salt)
1/2-3/4 c granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you want it)
1.5 tsp cardamom seeds (or 2 tsp ground)
about 5.5 cups of flour, plus more as needed
For the filling:
1/3 c vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine
1/3 c granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
For the top:
Milk alternative or neutral-tasting oil to brush the rolls
In a small saucepan, melt the margarine over medium-low heat. Pour in the “milk” and heat gently to about 100F (if you don’t have a thermometer, a good way to test the temperature is to dip your finger in it – if you can’t notice a temperature difference between your finger and the mixture, it should be about body temperature which is best for the yeast. Too hot and you will kill it!).
In a mixer or large mixing bowl, combine the yeast with a little of the warm milk-margarine mixture and a sprinkle of the sugar. Let sit for 5-10 minutes (there should be a little bit of bubbling activity as “proof” your yeast is fresh and active). Meanwhile grind your cardamom seeds if using fresh, and measure out the other ingredients. Add the remaining milk mixture, sugar, cardamom, and about 2/3 of the flour mixture. Knead/mix until you have a smooth, soft dough, adding more flour as necessary if it’s too sticky, but saving some for later. The dough is ready when it comes away from the sides of the bowl (if dough could feel like butter, that’s what mine felt like – heavenly!). Sprinkle a little flour on top to keep it from drying out, cover with a damp kitchen towel, and place in a draft-free place until doubled in size (30-45 minutes should do it).
Punch the dough down and and knead a couple of minutes in the bowl. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead in the rest of the flour. You are done kneading when the dough comes away from the surface and your hands easily (also, when you divide the dough in half, there should be a fairly even porousness visible). Divide the dough in half. Roll out each half on a lightly floured surface into a thin, large rectangle. Spread each rectangle with butter, and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Roll up tightly along the longer edge and slice into even pieces (about an inch or slightly less in width). Place each piece, sliced side up, into baking cups or on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Cover and let rise until doubled in size (another 30-45 minutes). This would also be a good time to preheat your oven to 475F.
Brush the tops with oil or milk, and sprinkle with pearl sugar. Bake on the center rack of the oven for 8-12 minutes, or until dough springs back immediately when pressed with your finger. (If you made thick slices, this will take a few minutes longer) Cool and enjoy!