Recently, Jen at use real butter posed a question on her blog: what inspires your cooking?
Certainly, her gorgeous photos (food and otherwise), other equally cool food blogs and online food collections like foodgawker.com are feasts for my eyes. The same goes for some really fantastic cookbooks out there that I’ve come across, but my best inspiration comes from those around me.
I find genuine joy and pleasure in cooking and baking for people – from thinking about what they would enjoy, scrolling through my massive collection (seriously) of bookmarked recipes for the perfect one, actually making the dish or baked goods, to seeing the happiness on their faces. When I bake or cook, I think of my mom and dad’s home-cooked meals, my brother’s artistic and droolworthy culinary creations, my little cousins’ love for strawberry milkshakes, my friends from high school and undergrad and how one of them got me hooked forever on tastespotting and foodgawker, my Sanskrit teacher’s weekly “tradition” of bringing in a loaf of bread for mid-class break, my former classmate’s apple and almond cake (!), how my friend and I used to cook meals on weekends, and a boy’s love for spring rolls with tomato and egg on rice.
Just the other day, I found out that the wife of one of my friends enjoys reading my blog a lot, and is excited to try the recipes I’ve posted. That made my day! It means a lot to me, knowing that this little blog can inspire others to be excited about food. Love for good food is universal, no?
The best food, in turn, springs from love. I was hunting for perlesukker, or pearl sugar to put on top of sweet baked goods. I suppose you can think of it as the sweet equivalent of pretzel salt. Several blogs mentioned that IKEA carried pearl sugar but when my parents went to try and get some, they were told that the item had been discontinued. Undeterred, mom and dad located a website that sold pearl sugar, and surprised me with a package of not one, but six boxes of pearl sugar along with a jar of Swedish black currant preserves.
So here we go: buttery, rich, classy kanelbulle for special occasions. I guarantee you it’s not your typical gooey and sugary cinnamon roll.
Kanelbulle (Swedish-style cinnamon rolls)
From Stephanie’s bullbaket – she has really good step-by-step photos for how to make them
Note: I halved the recipe. The full recipe, as posted below, makes ~48 kanelbulle.
– 4 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
– 3 sticks (yes, THREE sticks!) or 1 1/2 cups butter
– 2 cups milk
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 1-2 tsp ground cardamom
– 6 cups all-purpose flour
– 4 tbsp butter, softened
– 5 tbsp sugar
– ground cinnamon
– 1 egg, lightly whisked
– pearl sugar
Melt butter in a small saucepan, add the milk and heat to lukewarm – you don’t want to kill your yeast when you add this melted, buttery milk to it. Add your yeast to a big mixing bowl and then slowly pour in the melted butter and milk (remember, lukewarm!). Stir to dissolve the yeast.
Add the salt, sugar, cardamom and enough flour to make a fairly sticky, elastic dough. This will depend on the warmth and humidity of your kitchen; it took me about 5 1/2 cups. Cover the bowl of dough with a damp towel, and let it rise for 40-45 min.
Knead the dough and it should become less sticky after you slowly incorporate the rest of the flour. Divide the dough in half. (Note: since I halved the recipe, I didn’t divide the dough at this point.)
Roll out the dough into a rough rectangle around 1/4″ thick. Spread softened butter on the dough, followed by a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. Working from the longest side, roll tightly into a log and pinch the seam closed. Slice each log into ~24 pieces, and place each piece into a muffin cup. Let rise, covered, for 20 min.
Brush each kanelbulle with beaten egg and sprinkle with pearl sugar.
Bake at 425-440F for ~12 min. (Note: kanelbulle x 24 wouldn’t all fit onto a single baking pan so I split the batch into two, 12 on each pan. Then I stupidly tried to bake both at the same time in the oven, on two separate racks. When I pulled out the bottom rack halfway through the baking time to switch it with the top one, I discovered some “smoking” – the high butter and sugar content had turned the bottoms burnt and crispy. This was sort of saved by immediately lowering the temperature to 350F and only baking one tray at a time, but ugh. That’s one lesson learned the hard way.)
The final product? They disappeared by mid-morning. To be honest, the thought of using 1 1/2 sticks of butter to make 24 small kanelbulle makes me less enthusiastic, mostly because the dough felt saturated with butter and was a little hard to work with. Maybe it’s because I knead by hand and you wouldn’t necessarily notice with a stand mixer? The shaped kanelbulle also left stains in the muffin cups as they were rising. I’m not sure if that was expected. When I make this next time, I may curb the butter-ness a bit to prevent the oily dough feeling and butter oozing. Or, maybe I can try to work softened butter into the dough instead of melting it in the milk.
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I’m sending a kanelbulle over to Susan at Wild Yeast for Yeastspotting, and also over to Anita at Dessert First, who is hosting Sugar High Friday: Spice up your life! this month. Cardamom is my favourite spice. What’s yours?