Korvapuusti (Finnish Cinnamon Rolls)

It all started when I came across this list of traditional Finnish food one should try at least once in life. This reminded me of the Christmas of 2010, when I was lucky enough to spend it in Salo, Finland, as a guest to a local family. You wouldn’t expect Finnish food to be exciting at all, but I have to say that, apart from the occasional weird but tasty novelties (erm, reindeer), the food I tried both at home and in restaurants was excellent. They have a very long and established tradition of hearty, wholesome food and their cuisine is strongly influenced by fish (widely available) and by soups – they are a very cold country after all.

Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Finnish have something which resembles the traditional British cinnamon buns: korvapuusti. These are cinnamon and cardamom “slapped ears”, as the name says, and are in fact the same as the Swedish kanelbullar, except the latter don’t contain cardamom. The version below is also purely based on cinnamon, for no other reason really than the fact I don’t own a spice grinder and grinding the cardamom seeds by hand is a real chore. Call me lazy if you want, I do that all the time anyway. Please enjoy these warm and don’t worry if they lose their shape while they’re baking, as they will be delicious nevertheless!

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Ingredients

  • 500g strong bread flour
  • 250ml whole milk
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 x 7g fast action yeast sachet
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened
  • 80g light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp double cream

Method

  1. In a saucepan, melt the butter (100g) in the milk over low heat just until the butter disappears and the milk is warm. Don’t boil the milk! Once combined, remove from the heat and allow the mixture to come to room temperature.
  2. In the bowl of a freestanding mixer equipped with the hook attachment, combine the flour, salt, yeast (place away from the yeast) and sugar. Once the milk mixture is at the right temperature, turn on the engine and slowly add it to the dry ingredients. Add 1 egg.
  3. Once all of the ingredients are combined, take the mixture out and knead for a good 5 minutes on a non-floured surface until smooth, soft and pliable. Put back in the bowl, cover tightly with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm environment for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size.
  4. Punch the dough down to its original size, then tip out onto a lightly floured work surface and roll out to a rectangle measuring approximately 30x50cm. In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon.
  5. Spread the butter (50g) onto the dough rectangle either using your fingers or with a brush, then sprinkle the sugar and cinnamon mixture on top. Keeping the longest edge facing you, start rolling the dough on itself towards you. Try to keep the roll as tight as possible.
  6. Once your roll is complete, take a very sharp knife and start cutting it diagonally, making one cut slightly tilted to the right and the following one slightly tilted to the left. This way, you will end up with triangles rather than circles of dough. The base of each triangle should be approximately 4cm.
  7. Line an oven tray with baking parchment, then place the triangles with their widest side downwards and the point upwards. You should be able to see the circles of dough and cinnamon on each side. Cover and prove for another hour or until doubled in size.
  8. Pre-heat your oven to 180C.
  9. In a small bowl, combine the remaining egg with 2 tbsp double cream, then lightly whisk. Use a pastry brush to brush the sides of each cinnamon pyramid, then bake for 20-25 minutes, until a good golden brown on top.
  10. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before eating.

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