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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97 Comments

  • Natalie
    These look amazing. Unfortunately, I don't have any spelt flour on hand. Would I be able to replace the spelt with buckwheat flour?
  • I have starter yeast in the fridge and need to use it--this recipe is perfect! Your blog is amazing, thank you for your incredible recipes and beautifully written words. Cheers from Italy!
  • So incredibly delicious and special! I made these using Australian ingredients and had to add an extra 2 tablespoons of flour, just in case any other Australians need this tip! I also made them vegan by using coconut oil and coconut-rice milk and they worked brilliantly :) thank you for a delicious recipe year again David & Luise!
  • Yum! These look like little knots of seasonal heaven! I bet they are delicious.
  • I did quite the same (almond-honey-pear) this week-end whith the left-over of my buns dough. And also tried the beet mixture of your wraps (in the 1st book): spread on the buns cut in halves with thin herbs "panisse" and pickled ramps blossom ! Délicious. Your blog is an inspiration for food and life !
  • I've been so blessed and motivated by this blog and the fabulous apps. Thank you sincerely. Keep it coming.
  • We should just have a Green Kitchen Stories day, where everyone just makes your recipies all day. But not as a replacement for cinnamon bun day. There's room on my calendar for both!
  • Mary
    These are beautiful and a welcome change from our usual cinnamon rolls. I made these last night and thought I'd share a few hiccups I came across. Definitely needed more flour, almost half a cup to get the dough to where it wasn't sticky. Also, the baking temp of 425F was too hot- the tops were beautiful but the bottoms were burnt. 2nd batch went in at 325F and turned out perfect. Ended up making my own hazelnut butter with raw soaked, dehydrated and roasted hazelnuts. A lot of work but very much worth it in the end plus we couldn't find hazelnut butter in the store. Thank you for sharing this recipe, will definitely make these again and again.
  • Oana
    Just pulled them out of the oven...at 1.23 in the morning :) but worth the wait! I didn`t have any kind of wheat flour in the house, so I replaced it with whole rye flour. They didn`t rise as much as yours, but I love the taste, the rustic look (I guess rye doesn`t have as much gluten and they were fragile while twisting and knotting) and your photographs, they give me a cold-weather-baked-goods-eating-time kind of vibe. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!
  • It seems so tasty with chocolate and hazelnut butter! I am definately going to try that next time I make cinnamon buns! PR trick or not, cinnamon buns are so good!
  • These buns look so professional! And I love that Sweden has a national bun day, even if it is a bit cheesy. This is being added to my pinboard right now! L x
  • Juliana
    i haven't gotten to try yet, but I read sweet rice flour helps gluten free dough stick together better. Perhaps you can experiment with it!
  • Alice
    Oh my gosh, they are definitively insane! And fulfilling in many ways, in the belly as well in the head (okay, that's because I love kneading dough...) For a gluten free and vegan version, psyllium seed husks may help? I don't know exactly how it would work with gluten free flours, I don't have lot of experience with them. But I had a recipe of cinamon rolls from an American book, absolutely not the healthy kind, where they call for eggs and since I prefer buns more in the bread style than 'brioche' one, I used psyllium seed husks.
  • I absolutely love this flavour combination - apples and chocolate are the best!
  • Wow, I definitely have to try these! Thanks for this wonderful recipe!
  • Daniel
    Hi! This looks absolutely amazing!! Do you think I could replace all purpose flour with light spelt? Thank you!! Dani
    • Hi Dani, yes you can. I've made it with spelt several times. Yes be careful not to over-knead the dough as the gluten in spelt is more fragile. /David
      • SJ
        Another question about flour (from a Sweden dweller) - for "all purpose flour" do you just use "vetemjöl"? My sambo got a huge sack of the stuff for extrapris, and I think bullar are the perfect use for so much flour ;)
  • I'm very curious in how they taste, so I'll be making them by the end of this week! :)
  • Thank you David and Luise, I sure will try to bake those for my sweet Sil one of those Sunday morning! Hopefully she won't read this comment ^^
  • Celine konwinski
    great recipe guys! It is delicious. I had to adapt it as I did not have cardamom but cinnamon did the trick :) How do I keep them fresh for tomorrow? biscuit tin? celine
  • Mareike
    These buns look amazing!! Did you ever try to prepare the buns in the evening and to bake them in the morning?
  • Oh well..wow! ..and the pics are just the perfect kind of dark and blurry <3 <3 <3
  • Mmmm I adore kanelbullar! Brings me back to my university days sharing a house with 2 Swedes :) Such a shame the gluten free ones don't work out - I will have to experiment. Keep up the good work David & Luise! Love the blog - it gives me so much inspiration for recipes on my own site, Living Rosy.
    • Guadalupe
      Try the GF dough in swirly blueberry buns in bakingmagique.com. Tried it today and it worked perfectly! Think it would work for these.
  • Wow, these look so good! If there's one thing I miss from living in Belgium it's the freshly baked pastries. Sigh. But thanks for the vegan options, I'll try those :)
  • Oh my god. These do have the most luscious filling possible. Hazelnut butter is my go-to homemade nut butter of choice so I always have it on hand. I actually planned to make your buns from your first cookbook this weekend and now I'm torn between which to make! Either way, a heartfelt thank you for always providing us with the most inspiring, whole foods baked goods. I just love your recipes.
    • Would it be possible the make the dough the night before up to the first rise, so that it rises slowly in the fridge overnight? And then in the morning all I'd have to do is shape them and let them rise the second time for 30 minutes before baking?
  • These look lovely. I can't have gluten, so I might try to make these gluten free for myself (i will let you know how it goes). my husband, however, can have gluten. so i will be making this version for him!
  • Oh my lawdddd these look incredibly wonderful. I'm in the process of testing a bunch of scone/bun/roll recipes in preparation for Christmas day breakfast- these are definitely up next! http://www.youtube.com/sparklesandsuch26
  • These looks absolutely wonderful. Perfect to have on a cozy fall day with friends and family!
  • What even, I thought chocolate and apples were the worst combo ever, but I think you just changed my mind. Can't wait for the weekend!

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