Cinnamon buns are a big thing around here, in Northern Europe, but also in my family. I seem to make them for every special occasion and at least once or twice a month otherwise, but I’ve never shared my standard recipe here on the blog. This is my personal favourite, with an even mix of cardamom alongside the cinnamon, coconut sugar, and maple syrup or honey to add a little extra caramel flavour and that trademark stickiness. These cardamom knots have been universally adored by anyone I’ve ever given them to so I hope that if you add them to your kitchen, your friends and family will love them just as much.
Usually when I have posted a cinnamon bun recipe, it’s been more of a creative take on a standard recipe. There are chocolate orange and date cinnamon buns, an apple cinnamon bun cake, and a pumpkin spice version all floating around. They’re all great and I love them, but this is the recipe I turn to the most, and I hope it can become a staple that you return to as often as I do.
When I make them I follow a loose recipe, starting with a certain amount of milk, oil, and yeast, then adding flour while kneading until the dough reaches the right consistency. I’ve outlined that below alongside a more concrete recipe, but the important thing to note is that the dough shouldn’t be sticky any longer once it’s ready to go for its first rise. It should be soft but shouldn’t stick to your finger if gently poked.
The whole point here is to be a little messy when you’re making these, so don’t worry if some of the filling comes out when you’re folding/twisting/rolling – I always use any that gets squished out to coat the rolls a little more before setting them out for their second proof. Some of the filling will melt out as they have their second rise, as well, but that caramelizes as they bake and it’s all around a good thing.
And if they look like too complicated of a shape, it’s really pretty straightforward and I explain in the recipe notes, but you can also make standard rolls instead. They’ll taste just as good. Due to the shape and general nature of sweet yeast doughs, these are best eaten the day they’re made, still warm from the oven if you can!
I’ve included recipe instructions assuming that most people don’t have a stand mixer, but if you do, guidelines for that are under the tips. The trick with spelt is to avoid over-kneading because it’s lower in gluten, but you can also make these with regular wheat flour and they’ll turn out perfectly.
Since I wasn’t able to photograph how to form the buns, here’s a link to a recipe with a similar shape so that you can see what I mean by folding into thirds and cutting. Really twist as much as possible to get that beautiful pretend lamination here, it’s part of what makes these knots so delicious. If you’re really interested maybe I’ll pull myself together and make a video for these at some point.
- 500 ml / 2 cups nondairy milk, oat, almond, etc.
- 70 grams / 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup or honey
- 4 teaspoons active dry yeast*
- 800 - 900 grams / 5 - 6 cups light spelt flour**
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 70 grams / 1/4 cup soft coconut oil
- 50 grams / 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- Pour the milk into a small saucepan and heat on low-medium until warm but not boiling. Whisk in the coconut oil and maple syrup, then pour this mixture into a large heatproof bowl. Check to make sure it's not too hot (it should be just warmer than your skin) then whisk in the yeast. Let it rest for about 15 minutes, or until foaming.
- Stir in 1 cup of flour, the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt. Add the remaining flour in 1/2 cup increments, stirring between additions, until it becomes too difficult to stir with a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured countertop and knead, adding more flour as necessary, until a soft and smooth dough forms, about ten minutes.
- Oil a large bowl and place the dough into it, turning it a couple of times to coat it in a little oil. Place a large plate over the bowl and set it into a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
- Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Gently punch the dough down and place it onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into a large rectangle, about 2cm thickness, and spread with the filling. Start with an even layer of coconut oil, then top with the coconut sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and cardamom. Fold into thirds, taking the side furthest from you and bringing it towards you two thirds of the way, then folding the other side over it.
- Use a serrated knife to cut strips about 3cm wide, then gently stretch each strip before twisting as many times as you can, then tie into knot shapes, tucking one end underneath and pulling the other up through the centre of the knot. Place completed buns onto the prepared baking sheets, then cover with a kitchen towel and set them on the counter to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F. Once the buns are finished rising, bake for 20-25 minutes, or until golden. Cool for about ten minutes on the baking sheet before serving. These are best eaten the day they're baked.
* You can also use one cube of fresh yeast here in place of the dry.
** Normal wheat flour will work well here but I wouldn't try using all whole spelt as it makes them too heavy. If they need to be whole grain then go for sprouted spelt instead, but they won't be as light.
• This makes a pretty big batch, with a dozen large buns, but the recipe can be cut in half if you need a smaller amount.
• A perfect place for the dough to rise for the first time is in the oven with the light on. It can rise somewhere cooler but will need more time in that case. For the second rise, once the buns are formed, let them rise at room temperature to prevent the filling from melting.
• To make the buns in a stand mixer, follow the directions as listed but don't turn the dough out to knead it. Use the dough hook and add flour 1/2 cup at a time, kneading as you go, until a smooth dough forms.
• Depending on how much you like cardamom, you can use more or less here. If you're a big fan, try switching the amounts of cinnamon and cardamom in the filling.