Whether they’re too sweet, thickly iced, or lacking enough cinnamon, finding a good cinnamon bun—or kanelbullar—is no easy feat.
When I was young, I had a Swedish stepmother who left me with a lifelong craving for kanelbullar, Swedish cinnamon buns. Yes, many places do cinnamon buns, but for my liking, they are either thickly iced, too sweet, not yeasty enough, or never have enough cinnamon. Only the traditional Scandinavian buns do. It looks like I am not entirely alone in my love for the sticky cinnamon buns. Did you know there is an International Day of the Kanelbulle every October 4th? My longing for a cinnamon bun with my coffee very much feeds into the concept of Fika, often translated from Swedish into English as a coffee and cake break. But really, Fika is an experience that involves stepping away from your day-to-day life, taking time for yourself or a friend, and consciously enjoying a relaxed break any time of day. Having a kanelbulle in hand only helps you achieve Fika that much more. My temporary Swedish family—made up of my stepmother, Helen, and my step-grandparents, Wille and Jøje— introduced me to kanelbullar when I was a young kid, around age eight or nine. Those delectable Swedish cinnamon buns, all yeasty and rolled into a snail shape with cinnamon inside and coarse sugar sprinkled on the top, were a revelation to me. The few summers and winters I spent in Sweden swimming in lakes and learning to ice-skate was always sprinkled with the smell and taste of a still-warm kanelbulle. Being a travel writer and serial ex-pat, I have been lucky enough to live in many countries, on three continents, and two hemispheres as a result of following my husband around the globe for his work. Each time I arrive in a new place, I see if they have a decent kanelbullar in town.