Norwegian Skillingsboller (Cinnamon Buns)

Inspired by Bergen, Norway: Skillingsboller (cinnamon buns)

After spending the better part of a soggy afternoon ducking in and out of the narrow wooden passageways in Bergen's old wharf, Bryggen (the UNESCO site was Norway's center for German Hanseatic trade in the 14th century), I was rewarded with one simple pleasure: a fresh-from-the-oven skillingsbolle from BakerBrun. Dusted with sugar and coiled like a plump snail, the lightly sweet Norwegian cinnamon bun has its roots right here, in an old white building among the gabled warehouses leaning along the wharf. Just look for the bakery's red awning, which to me was a rainy-day beacon.

First developed by Ferdinand Brun in the 1890s, the soft, doughy skillingsbolle (pronounced "schillinsbolleh") originally sold for just a schilling, but is more than worth it even at today's 24 kroner (about $4) price tag.

While BakerBrun buns are pale with just a thin line of cinnamon spread inside the dough, in my rendition, I added a bit more filling to highlight the swirl and bring more flavor to the rolls. Feel free to adjust the amount to your liking.

Norwegian skillingsboller (cinnamon bun)

1 cup milk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2¼ teaspoons (one package) active dry yeast
1 egg, at room temperature
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
Olive oil for bowl

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
⅓ cup sugar
4 tablespoons cinnamon

Egg Wash:
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Castor sugar (or granulated sugar)

For Dough: Add milk and butter to a small saucepan, and heat on low until butter is melted (it should be warm, not hot, to the touch).

In a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast on low until uniform. Add egg, and then slowly pour in milk and melted butter a little at a time. Mix in cardamom. Knead on medium low until dough is smooth and elastic and pulls away from the sides of the mixer bowl (about 10 minutes). If dough is very sticky, add a little bit of flour until it reaches the right consistency.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot and allow to rise until doubled in volume (about an hour).

For Filling: In a small bowl, mix remaining butter, sugar, and cinnamon into a paste, and set aside.

To Assemble: Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Once dough is ready, roll out with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface into a 16x12-inch rectangle about a ½-inch thick. Evenly spread cinnamon paste on top, leaving an edge of about ¼ inch. Roll dough into a tight log, place seam-side down on a cutting board, and slice into 12 even rolls about an inch thick.

Transfer rolls to baking sheets, spacing them about ½-inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap, place in a warm spot, and allow to rise until doubled in size (about an hour).

Preheat oven to 350° F. Make an egg wash by lightly beating the egg and tablespoon of water in a small bowl, and then lightly brush on the rolls. Bake for about 8 to 12 minutes (rotating pans halfway through) until golden. As you take rolls out of the oven, sprinkle with sugar. Allow to cool slightly and serve.