Hazelnut, Apple & Chocolate Buns

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It sounds a bit goofy and it’s mainly a PR-stunt but we actually have an official Cinnamon Bun Day in Sweden. It’s on the 4th of October. I don’t usually buy in to these things. All these Hug-a-Vegetarian-day/Eat-a-salty-pretzel-day/Jump-on-one-leg-with-a-blindfold-day … They are mostly just awkward. But for some reason I found myself in the kitchen baking buns on the evening of the 3rd October. Let’s call it a coincidence.

I wanted to bake a mash-up between a Swedish bun and the most amazing Hazelnut & Chocolate Babka that we tried in Tel Aviv earlier this year. So I started with the cardamom bun recipe from our first book, doubled the portions (I don’t bake buns often, so I want them to last), changed the proportions a bit and then added the most luscious filling I could think of: Mapled hazelnut butter, freshly ground cardamom, grated apples and dark chocolate. The combination was insane! The good kind of insane. I almost felt like Archimedes there for a while, screaming “Eureka!” as I ran naked into the living room to tell Luise about the flavours of the filling. Thinking back, I might not have screamed Eureka and I definitely wasn’t naked. But the filling was fantastic. And still is.

Decadent, sweet, rich, whole grain buns with a fresh apple twist. They are good. You should try them. And you don’t need a fake-Cinnamon Bun Day to do so. Just a rainy autumn Sunday.

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It will take a few hours to bake buns but the reward is sweet. I didn’t finish until there was hardly any light outside, hence the dark and slightly blurry photos. We normally bake with spelt flours instead of all-purpose, but this time we were out of light spelt so I went with a nice, organic all-purpose flour that we had at home. I mixed it with some dark spelt to still give it a bit of a wholegrain touch. I must admit that result was softer and better than when I use 100% spelt. But that is of course an option, if you prefer.

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Tying them into knots is the trickiest part. My mother makes the most perfect knots. I never manage to make them as pretty or regular shaped (as you can see from the photo below), but I decided a long time ago to call mine rustic and not worry too much about them perfect. You can either cut them once or twice, I show both examples in the photo on the left. Cutting them twice makes more intricate knots and prettier buns, but they are also a bit more difficult to shape as they are so thin. If you don’t want to do knots, you can also roll the dough into a log, with the filling inside, and cut it into simple rolls.

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Vegans can replace the butter with coconut oil and glaze the buns with plant milk instead of egg. I have never succeeded to make a gluten free version of buns as they need the gluten to hold together when they are tied into knots. If you make a good gluten free version, I’d love to hear your tricks.

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Hazelnut, Apple & Chocolate Buns
Makes around 30 buns

I have baked these using Swedish ingredients. Dried yeast and flours might be different depending on where you are from, so I recommend double checking the yeast vs flour amount to similar recipes in your own country just to make sure.

5 tsp fast-action dried yeast (or 50 g fresh yeast)
2 tsp cardamom seeds, freshly ground
a pinch of sea salt
125 g / 4,5 oz unsalted butter
500 ml / 2 cups soy milk (or milk of your choice)
160 ml / 2/3 cup clear honey or maple syrup
500 g /4 cups organic all-purpose flour
250 g / 2 cups wholegrain spelt flour

Filling
180 g / 2/3 cup hazelnut butter
4 tbsp maple syrup

2 large eating apples, grated, excess moisture squeezed out
1⁄2 tbsp cardamom seeds, freshly ground
100 g / 3,5 oz dark chocolate (70-80%), grated

1 beaten egg, to glaze 
A handful of hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Stir the yeast, cardamom and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the milk and honey and heat until the temperature is about 40°C (100°F). Pour over the yeast and stir until dissolved.

Sift the flours together and add about two-thirds of it to the yeast and milk mixture. Mix to a dough. Gradually knead in enough of the remaining flour just until soft and no longer sticky. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour, or until double in bulk. While the dough is rising, mix together hazelnut butter and maple syrup for the filling.

Divide the dough into two equal portions (unless you have a huge worktop, in which case you can roll the whole dough at once.). On a floured surface, roll and stretch the first dough to a rectangle, about 50 x 40 cm (20 x 16 in) wide and about 5 mm (1⁄4 in) thick. Spread half of the hazelnut butter evenly across the dough and sprinkle half of the apple shreds, half of the cardamom and the chocolate. Carefully lift one third of the dough (closest to you) and fold it two-thirds of the way up, then fold down the top third. Now you should have a rectangle that is roughly 50 x 13 cm (20 x 5 in). Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into roughly 3 cm (11⁄4 in) wide strips.
Take each strip and carefully (so the filling doesn’t fall out) stretch and twist them three times and tie into loose knot-shaped buns, with the ends tucked into the middle. Put on a baking tray lined with baking paper, cover with kitchen towel, and leave to rise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the second dough the same way as the first. Pre-heat the oven to 220°C (425°F/Gas 7). Brush the buns with a beaten egg, sprinkle with chopped nuts and bake for 10–12 minutes, until golden.

Don’t forget to eat the first one fresh from the oven!

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95 Comments

  • Marie-Emilie
    How to do these pastry in gluten free version ? Thank you cause I am drooling looking at the pictures... :) I wish there was someone sometimes who could do bake gluten free pastrie for me... snif we do not have a gluten free bakery in my city.
  • Your photos are stunning - they make me hope for a moody rainy day to hide alone with myself in the kitchen and bake the buns. Maybe I would replace the grain flour with buckwheat and rice flours, but I have to test it first before recommend the GF version.
  • lina
    Jag som var så sugen på bullar idag och tänkte "tänk om det fanns några som inte var så onyttiga!" Och så läste jag detta! såklart hade ni svaret :) underbart! så fort vårt kök är klart ska jag baka! :) Hoppas vi ses snart, saknar er! puss o kram
  • Woah. These sound amazing! I did have a rainy Saturday this past weekend, and made bread for the first time in awhile. There's no better occasion, and no better smell.
  • Stacie
    These look so good! Do you think vegan butter, such as Earth Balance, would also work? Thanks! -Stacie
  • As soon as I saw them, I thought - babkas! So not surprising that this decadent yeasted cake was a part of your inspiration. I think these are so much better than cinnamon buns, with their cloying syrupy glaze and uninteresting shapes... I wouldn't mind seeing a video of how you tie them in knots!
  • Your photography is always so beautiful, everything is so stunning on this blog, I love it :) I am also hoping for a colder rainy spring day tomorrow so I can hopefully give these a go in the morning (if I get up early enough) to have them with a cup of tea in the afternoon. My fingers are crossed for a drizzly arvo... can't think of anything better. Thankyou for such a lovely post x
  • Nice Recipe! I must try this at my workplace, follow me i had autors recipe at serbiancook.blogspot.com
  • Gorgeous! I love the sound of these flavours. I'm also super impressed that Elsa can hold still with a bun long enough for that final photo and not eat it ;) Even my husband would struggle with that. In fact I quite adore the moody lighting photos x
  • I saw these in your Instagram feed a while back and fell in love. I'm so happy you posted the recipe! They look delicious.
  • Sonja
    My mother was a Swede Finn (Swedish speaking Finn from Larsmo) and the best thing she made was her swedish bread - rich and yummy and full of cardamon. Just reading about these buns made me think of her and her braided bread and buns. We have tried to duplicate her efforts but they never quite turn out as well. These sound soooo good And healthier than hers. Going to try them first chance I get.
  • kw
    Beautiful..I am wondering if you can comment on the hazelnut butter. Here in the states hazelnut butter is about fifteen dollars U.S. for a small container. Do you make your own or buy a ready made product?
  • These look and sound delicious (I can only imagine what they smell like). I've never had something like this before, but after watching some of the things created on the great british bake off and this being a similar recipe I'm intrigued to try it! I'll have to pick up some of the ingredients next time I'm in a supermarket.
  • I can't get over how gorgeous this bread is. What a stunner! And the hazelnut+apple+chocolate combo is just lovely!
  • Laura
    Haha. I had a similar situation today cause I wanted to use up some carrots and decided to make carrot cake muffins. Great idea, but I had no butter, only a small amount of flour and no canned pineapple as required by all the recipes I found online. In the end I replaced the flour with the least buts I had, corn starch, almond meal and quick oats, plus a grated apple instead of the pineapple. I was so anxious that these would fail so bad, but they came out the best muffins I've done in a while! So hooray for experiments! I have a little love-hate relationship with yeasted dough, but the filling sounds so good and the bun look so cute!
  • I tried to make my first buns maybe 20 days ago, but it's been a flop :D Yours seem rustic and full of flavors and thirty buns are a lot, couldn't you send some here?? ^_^
  • they a rtuely perfect!!! once i tried to make buns but since than i haven't been in good relathiohip eith yeast dough. mabe I should challenge myself and try one more time
  • I have never made yeast rolls and keep meaning to but yeast to try them out. I love the flavors in this recipe! Will certainly let you know if I'm successful tying these. Thanks for sharing!

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