Danish model, TV presenter, and mother of three Caroline Fleming knows a thing about hygge, that Nordic philosophy of living well. As she writes in the introduction of her first English-language cookbook Cook Yourself Happy: The Danish Way, the Danish word encapsulates more than just a feeling of being warm and fuzzy by the fire. “For us Danes,” she explains, hygge, “means being in a warm and cozy environment, being safe and secure as a child, knowing you are loved and supported unconditionally, never working too hard or too many hours, thereby never sacrificing time with your family, which comes first in our world.” And what better way to ring in the change in seasons and revel in all that hygge has to offer than with a recipe from Fleming’s childhood: cinnamon buns, also known as kanelsnegle in Danish.
This recipe is inspired by Fleming’s grandmother, who would make a big batch of buns when she visited. “My sister and I would eat these every day when we got back from school, and also—if we were lucky—for breakfast,” she writes in her cookbook. “Granny baked these again just before she left and froze them in smaller batches, which is such a good idea as these buns truly are the most heavenly snack for children, both big and small.”
Freezing these cinnamon buns is an easy way to have a little dose of coziness anytime you want. “I usually freeze them in bags of eight and take them out the evening before, when using them for a weekend breakfast or in the morning if using them for an after-school snack,” explains Fleming in an email, noting that she warms them in the oven at about 350°F.
But really, she explains, “For me the buns are best when you really spend time on kneading the dough, feeling with your hands all the love you have in your heart. The butter sugar and cinnamon mixture is easy to spread using your fingers or a rubber spatula.” Though Fleming loves eating these buns at Christmas, “because of the cinnamon and the scent they fill the house with,” there’s nothing stopping you from enjoying these easy-to-make cinnamon buns all year-round—or anytime you want to feel a little bit cozier or closer to family.
Kanelsnegle, or Cinnamon Buns
Photo by Photo by Jacqui Small, an imprint of the Quarto Group
For the buns
2 cups milk
1 cup icing or confectioner's sugar
5 tablespoons fresh yeast
8 cups plain, all-purpose flour, plus extra to dust
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
For the filling
¾ cup butter, softened
1 ¼ cups raw cane sugar
How to Make It
In a large saucepan, gently heat the milk until it is warm, not hot, then add the icing (confectioner’s) sugar and butter. Remove from the heat, stir to combine, then leave to cool.
Once cool, add the yeast and stir well, then slowly add the flour and cardamom, stirring well. Whisk the eggs, then add to the saucepan and stir well to combine. Remove the bun dough from the saucepan and knead well, then cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a dark place for 1 hour to rise.
Lightly flour your work surface. Roll the dough mixture out into a large rectangle about ½ inch thick.
Mix the ingredients for the filling together, then spread the filling all over the top of the dough rectangle. Roll up, starting from one end, so that it resembles a jam roly-poly cake or Swiss roll, then cut into ¾ inch thick slices. Spread the slices out on baking or parchment paper on a baking tray and allow to rise for another 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake the cinnamon buns for 10–15 minutes until golden brown. Enjoy warm from the oven, or cold, with a cup of tea or coffee. These also freeze well.