Vegan Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

This weekend, I had breakfast at a Danish bakery in London Fields with my boyfriend. It is called The Bread Station and it’s a pretty cool industrial-looking bakery/café underneath the train tracks. They mostly do wholesale to other shops, so you can actually see the bakers at work producing large quantities of pastry and sourdough bread! I had a delicious “Kanelbullar” with my coffee, which is a Swedish cinnamon bun (not very Danish, but oh well). I absolutely love cinnamon buns: the crunchy outside with the soft, enriched dough on the inside… the way you can pull the different layers apart… the delicious sugary cinnamon stuffing… need I say more?

I have wanted to make cinnamon rolls for a long time, but I could never decide which kind I wanted to make. But after seeing the lovely knotted Swedish buns, there was no doubt in my mind. I had to have a go at these myself. Swedish people love these so much, they even have a national day to celebrate them! The 4th of October is “Kanelbullens Dag” (Cinnamon Bun Day) in Sweden. Unfortunately, my timing is not that good, because it is nowhere near October, but hey: you don’t need a national day to enjoy these. The Kanelbulle is a popular treat to have during “fika”, which is the Swedish word for coffee break. It is comparable to British afternoon tea, but more often it’s coffee with pastry instead of tea with scones!

Some of you might already know that I am pescotarian (have been for 3 years now), although most of the stuff I eat is plant-based. However, because I have started to bake a lot more, I have been using a lot more animal products like eggs, milk and butter than I used to. In an attempt to reduce my use of animal products, I decided to make these buns vegan. Traditionally, Kanelbullar have a butter & sugar filling, but I have found that using vegetable oil instead of butter is just as delicious! These homemade buns were just as good (if not better!) than the non-vegan ones I had at The Bread Station.

You can get these lovely homemade buns on the table in just over 2 hours time. Trust me, it’s worth the wait! My roommate and her boyfriend were really happy with me this morning 😉 Without further ado, let’s get to the recipe.

Vegan Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

Ingredients (makes around 16 buns)

  • Dough
  • 250 ml almond milk
  • 60 ml boiling water
  • 7 gr active dried yeast
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 370 gr plain flour
  • 40 gr white bread wheat flour + extra for dusting
  • 60 gr soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • Filling
  • 60 ml vegetable oil
  • 100 gr soft brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Icing
  • 6 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • Decoration
  • Handful of almond flakes

Method

Start by activating your yeast. Combine the almond milk, hot water, and 1 tsp sugar. Check the temperature: you want it to be around 26 degrees (that’s what the yeast likes). If it’s not warm enough, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds. Then stir in the dried yeast and set aside to become bubbly.

In a large bowl, combine the flours, spices and sugar. I like to use a little bit of wheat bread flour next to plain flour, because I find it adds some structure. Feel free to use just plain flour if that’s what you have on hand. I do recommend adding the ground cardamom: it adds SO much to the flavour of these buns. It is definitely worth spending the few pounds on to get!

Make a well in the middle and pour in the oil and the activated yeast mixture. Mix with your hands until the dough comes together, then flour the surface and knead for 10 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough. The dough will be sticky in the beginning but it will get easier to handle as you go along. You might need to add a little extra flour depending on temperature and humidity, but be careful not to add it too soon as the kneading really does make the dough less sticky eventually.

Place your dough in an oiled bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place somewhere warm and leave to prove for 1 to 1,5 hours until doubled in size.

When your dough has proved, tip it onto a lightly floured surface and roll out into a square until the dough is 1 cm thick. Combine the oil, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and spread the mixture on the dough. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Spread the mixture out until you can only see around 1 cm of the edges (so bit more than the photo on top). Then, fold the dough like an envelop: take the upper edge and fold it 1/3 down, then take the bottom edge and fold that op 1/3d of the way. Roll the envelop out again so that you get a rectangle of around 40×20 cm. Divide in long, 2cm wide strips. Watch the following video to see how to knot your buns: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHNFA4hcpok

Place your knotted cinnamon buns on a baking tray lined with parchment and bake them for 15-20 minutes (depending on the size). When they’re cooled halfway, whip up a quick icing by combining powdered sugar with some water (the more powdered sugar you add, the thicker and whiter the icing, the more water the more translucent and thin the icing. You do you!). Top the buns with your icing and sprinkle some almond flakes on top. Enjoy!

Serve these lovely buns with a cup of steaming hot coffee and indulge! Be sure to show me your results if you do try this recipe. I love to see your bakes, so get in touch on instagram

Lots of love, Tori

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How to Create YOUR OWN Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Do you have your own perfect chocolate chip recipe yet? I think I have finally found mine. These XXL chocolate chip cookies are crispy on the edges, but chewy in the middle. They’re loaded with dark chocolate and they have a not-too-subtle hint of sea salt, because I am a sucker for salted-chocolate-anything. Also, they’re thin and crunchy, not thick and cakey. But here’s the thing: my preferences are most likely not the same as yours. I have tried numerous chocolate chip cookie recipes, all claiming to be “foolproof” or “the best ever” or “perfect” and “unbeatable”. And sure, they are all going to taste good… but why?! What does every single ingredient contribute and how do I manipulate a recipe to get the cookies exactly the way I want them? That’s why, a thousand cookies and a hundred hours of reading about the science of cookie baking later, I came up with a step-by-step guide to create your own perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.

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Before we continue to the Cookie Guide, let’s talk through the traditional list of ingredients and what they do. Recipes traditionally start out with room temperature butter, creamed together with sugar (either 100% granulated or a mix of different kinds). Butter gives your cookies moisture, texture and a lot of depth in flavour. That’s why substituting butter for shortening or oil will never render the same result: butter has a rich, distinct flavour. If you use melted butter instead of room temperature butter, your cookies will be more “cracky” on the surface. Cold butter is more difficult to work with, as you have to cream the butter for a few minutes to make a light and fluffy butter+sugar mix. I don’t recommend it!

Now, as for the sugar: sugar makes cookies sweet (duh), but it also serves other functions. When you heat up sugar (like you do in the oven), it crystallizes and promotes browning of your cookie, giving it that attractive look. It also helps retain moisture and because of it’s absorbing powers, it also helps to reduce gluten development, making for an extra tender cookie. What type of sugar you choose, depends on your own preferences. White granulated sugar is suitable for almost any recipe because it is a neutral tasting sugar. Light & dark brown sugar are granulated sugar with molasses added to it. This gives the sugar extra moist-retaining abilities, so using brown sugars make your cookies extra chewy. Dark brown sugar has the most molasses added to it and thus provides the most moisture. Importantly, brown sugar has acidity which reacts with baking soda, making your cookies more tall rather than flat. White sugar doesn’t have this property. Muscovado sugar is an unrefined cane sugar. Because it is minimally processed, the molasses is naturally present in this type of sugar, making it suitable for use in baking where a strong molasses flavour is desirable like in gingerbread.

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After creaming the butter and sugar, traditional recipes call for the adding of egg. This helps bind the dough together and it helps the cookies spread out whilst they bake. After this step, some recipes add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for extra flavour. That is it for the wet ingredients. As for the dry ingredients, plain flour is mixed with some salt and baking soda. Some people say baking powder makes your cookies more cakey, but I haven’t experienced this myself. Truth be told, I’ve baked cookies using just soda, just powder, or a mix of both, and I find it hard to tell the difference. I settled with using baking powder, because it doesn’t need any acidity like baking soda in order to make the leavening happen. That way I don’t have to add anything else, because I don’t use acidic brown sugar in my recipe.

The amount of flour you use determines the structure of your cookies. A 1 to 1 ratio of flour to butter will make your cookies very thin and spread out, whereas by adding a lot more flour, they will hardly change shape as they bake. Some people like adding some bread flour, which will make your cookies more dense and chewy because of the higher protein content (=more gluten development).

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Now, let’s talk salt. You cannot underestimate the importance of salt in any baking recipe. Adding salt makes the flavour of all other ingredients pop. This is especially true for chocolate if you ask me. About that chocolate: you can use any type of chocolate you prefer, ranging from white to 98% cocoa dark chocolate. Whatever floats your boat! That being said, it is time to turn to the step-by-step guide to creating your own perfect chocolate chip recipe. Ready? Go!

The Guide to Creating Your Own Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Every baker needs their own hallmark chocolate chip cookie. But not every baker has the time or money (or appetite!) to test a hundred different cookie recipes. That’s where this guide comes in. Follow the steps and create your cookie just the way you like it without all the fuzz! Following this guide you will create around 10 XXL cookies or 16 smaller ones.

Step 1: butter is where it all starts

Amount: 115 grams (1/2 cup) for Tori’s Cookies. Use 130 grams for more fatty, buttery, spread out cookies. Use only 100 grams for a tougher cookie.

Temperature: room temperature for Tori’s Cookies. Melted butter for a dense cookie with a cracked top.

Creaming: adds air, making your cookie more light and makes the dough fluffy. The longer you cream your butter, the more cakey the cookie will be. I settle for 1 minute with a hand-held electric mixer.

Butter alternative: should you wish to use no butter for whatever reason, I advice replacing it with equal amount margarine with a high fat and low water content.

Step 2: sugarbaby

Amount: 200 grams (1 cup) for Tori’s Cookies. These are tooth achingly sweet. Use 150 grams for more subtle sweetness, but less than that and you will seriously compromise on texture.

Type of sugar:

Tori’s Cookie: 50% white granulated sugar & 50% white “basterdsuiker”. (Basterdsuiker is a Dutch thing. It has more flavour than granulated sugar, just like brown sugar. I use the white and not the brown variety because I like my cookies to stay pale, to get that nice contrast with the chocolate.)

Super crunchy + pale, no molasses flavour: 100% white granulated sugar

Crunchy + chewy: 50% white granulated sugar & 50% light brown sugar

Crunchy + chewy + caramelly: 50% white granulated sugar & 50% dark brown or muscovado sugar

Just chewy, less crunch: 100% brown sugar

Creaming: cream the butter and sugar together for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar. Cream longer for more air and fluffiness.

Step 3: egg 

Amount:

Tori’s Cookie: 1 egg

More fudgy cookie: 1 egg + 1 egg yolk

More fluffy, tall cookie: 1 egg + 1 egg white

Method: beat egg whites separately for extra rising. Just beat in the egg for Tori’s Cookies.

Step 4: vanilla

Either use 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract or don’t use it. If you are using white chocolate, don’t use the extra vanilla, because it’s already in the white chocolate.

Step 5: flour

Amount:

Tori’s Cookie: 130 grams (1 cup) plain flour

Extra chewy cookie: 120 grams plain flour + 1 tbsp white bread flour

Method: add to wet ingredients together but do not overmix or your cookie will be very tough!

Step 6: leavening agent

Tori’s Cookie: 1 tsp baking powder

When using brown sugar: 1 tsp baking soda (acid in brown sugar reacts with the baking soda)

Method: mix with the flour before adding to wet ingredients to make it spread evenly

Step 7: salt

Tori’s Cookie: 1 tsp salt in batter + 3 whole sea salt crystals or sea salt flakes on top of every cookie before baking

“Unsalted”: 1 tsp salt in batter (cookies won’t taste salty)

Actually unsalted: if for any reason you wish to use no salt, try adding 1/2 tsp of ground chili. This will enhance the chocolate flavour as well.

Step 8: chocolate

Add as much chocolate of any kind you like. I like to cut up 100 grams of extra dark chocolate with a serrated knife and I add some extra bits to every cookie once I’ve placed the cookie dough scoops on an oven tray so you can really see large bits of chocolate on top of the cookies once they’re done.

Step 9: baking

Tori’s Cookie (XXL!): bake scoops the size of 1 tbsp for 8-10 minutes on 190 degrees Celsius, watching your cookies like a hawk after the 8 minute mark so you don’t overbake them. I like my cookies underbaked, with crispy edges but soft inside.

Completely baked: bake for 12 minutes on 190 degrees Celsius

For smaller cookies, decrease the baking time around 2 minutes.

Make sure to spread your cookies enough so they don’t overlap when they start to spread in the oven.

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Hopefully this guide was a bit helpful in deciding what the recipe for your own perfect cookie should look like. For those of you who just want to replicate the cookies shown in this blog post, here’s my own preferred recipe.

Tori’s Favourite Choc Chip Cookies

Preparation time: 15 mins – Baking time: 8-10 mins – Total: 30 mins – Yield: 10 XXL cookies

Ingredients

  • 115 grams butter on room temp
  • 100 gr white granulated sugar
  • 100 gr white “basterd” sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 130 gr plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt + extra salt crystals on top of cookie
  • 100 gr dark chocolate + extra chunks on top of cookie

Method

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line an oven tray with parchment paper. Cream the butter for a minute with a hand-held electric mixer, then add the sugar and cream for another 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and mix. Then add to the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix. Chop up 100 grams of dark chocolate with a serrated knife, created uneven bits. Fold into the cookie dough. Make your hands slightly wet (so the dough doesn’t stick) and shape round dough balls the size of a pingpong ball. Spread out on a baking tray leaving enough room in between. Add some extra chunks of chocolate on top of every cookie, plus some salt flakes or crystals. Bake the cookies so the edges are crispy and golden but the middle is still soft. This takes around 8-10 minutes, but watch the cookies like a hawk. Leave the cookies to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes, allowing the middle to set just a bit more before transferring them to a cooling rack for another 5 minutes. Enjoy!

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Be sure to take some pictures of your cookies 😉

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Thanks a lot for reading and I hope all of you will have a lovely 2019,

Tori