What inspires your cooking?

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.

Mom and Dad are awesome

Mom and Dad are awesome

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)

A whole plate of lovelies

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.)

So cute!

So cute!

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.

* * *

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?

Update: round-up for SHF can be found here and here. Check it out!

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19 Responses to “What inspires your cooking?”

  1. Susan/Wild Yeast Says:

    Lovely use for the pearl sugar. I’m hard-pressed to choose a favorite spice but cardamom is right up there. And congratulations on your latest Click award!

  2. em Says:

    “my friends from high school and undergrad and how one of them got me hooked forever on tastespotting and foodgawker”
    :O who was that?!

    This is such a lovely post, Jackie. I love reading people’s posts about things that are near and dear to them ❀
    I’m so glad you’ve got this passion for baking to help get you through grad school and to keep you sane and happy πŸ™‚

    And those kanelbulle are very tiny and cute! The butter thing is worrisome, but maybe one day I will try to healthify (yes, healthify) the “cinnamon roll” recipe. Or…maybe I will splurge and bring myself to use 1.5 sticks!!! of butter in my kanelbulle…hahaha.

  3. toxobread Says:

    Susan: thanks! I have a soft spot for spices in general, but to me, cardamom is really on another level altogether.

    Em: ha ha ha well… hmmm. I have no idea who that could possibly be πŸ™‚
    I think kanelbulle can be done with less butter. It will just take a bit of experimenting but since I will most definitely make kanelbulle again, the tweaking will just be a matter of time.

  4. Alexa Says:

    These rolls are so sweet looking. I love cardamom. Picture perfect and I’m sure they taste delicious.

  5. toxobread Says:

    Alexa: I love cardamom too. It was a perfect addition to these rolls.

  6. Maris Says:

    I don’t know if I could choose a favorite spice! There are so many good ones. These rolls look like they’d be amazing to wake up to on a snowy weekend morning!

    I also like cooking for others. Usually it’s just me, so it’s nice to get compliments and be able to watch others enjoy something you created.

  7. toxobread Says:

    Hi Maris, I made these rolls late at night and I can tell you that they’re amazing for a late night snack too! Then I also tried one in the morning and it was just as good ha ha.

    I bring nearly everything I bake to work. That way I can enjoy the baking and everyone can enjoy my baking as well.

  8. Stephanie Says:

    These look great. One small note, maybe it’s a typo, though… if you halved the recipe, maybe you only needed to use 1 1/2 stick butter? The 3 sticks would be for the 48-roll batch πŸ™‚

    I would love to know the online store where your mom found the sugar and preserves. I live so far from any IKEA, and no where near a store that stocks pearl sugar.

  9. toxobread Says:

    Hi Stephanie! Thanks for dropping by. Oops sorry that was a typo – I had halved the recipe and made 24 rolls with 1 1/2 sticks of butter, and not 3 (which would make 48). Thanks for catching that! Heh heh wow 3 sticks of butter in 24 rolls would be a LOT. πŸ˜€

    My parents bought the pearl sugar and preserves from swedensbest.com. The IKEA in Toronto told my parents that they no longer sell pearl sugar. I’ve heard King Arthur supplies it too.

  10. YeastSpotting October 31, 2008 | Wild Yeast Says:

    […] Kanelbulle ~ Toxo Bread […]

  11. Psychgrad Says:

    Nice to find your blog. I saw your comment elsewhere. I’m a graduate student in Ontario, with a foodblog (it’s one of my ways of procrastinating).

    I agree that good food is universal. Conversations are easy with people who love food and want to talk about it.

    A favourite spice….hmmm…maybe coriander. Would freshly grated pepper be too basic?

  12. toxobread Says:

    Hey Psychgrad!
    I lived in Ontario for most of my life and did my undergrad at UofT. Small world, huh.
    I have to admit, I didn’t really appreciate coriander until about a year ago, but now like having it in salads, stir-fries, and soups. And nope, freshly grated pepper is basic but makes a world of difference!

  13. javapot Says:

    My son loves these and always has to have one when we visit Ikea. I hope to get some pearl sugar so that I can try this soon!

  14. toxobread Says:

    Hi Javapot,
    I’ve never had a “real” kanelbulle but these were pretty darn good. My labmates loved them, and so did my parents – they requested some when they came to visit last week. If you have trouble finding pearl sugar, let me know and I can try to point you to some sources.

  15. Barbarainnc Says:

    I was reading the other blog where the recipe came from, in yours there is no sugar listed in the dough. I read there is 1/2 c sugar in the dough. Please check and see for me!!!!

  16. toxobread Says:

    Hi Barbarainnc: Yes, sorry, there is 1/2 cup of sugar in the dough – I left that out by mistake. Thanks for catching that!

  17. Barbara Says:

    What a funny story ! The same thing happened to me: while I was hanging around to find some pearl sugar in my Brooklyn Ikea (not that easy to get..!) I had the same answer. :S
    Now I buy it directly on the Internet:


    This product is amazing and I work wonders with it on my chouquettes, so get a move on!!! I promise to try your appetizing recipe without further delay.

    PS: congrat’s for this great blog Toxobread!

  18. toxobread Says:

    Thanks, Barbara for the link and kind comments! Two years later, I’m still loving that pearl sugar and putting it on everything that I can. πŸ™‚

  19. Sugar High Friday: Spice Up Your Life! Part Two Says:

    […] of Toxo Bread has some Kanelbulle – so exquisitely […]

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