Ask most Swedes to name a baked goodie that epitomizes their homeland and they will choose cinnamon buns. There is a national fixation on the treat and cinnamon buns are the cornerstone of Swedish baking.
Total time: 3 1/2 hours
For the dough
1 package yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
2 tbsp. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup whole milk
6 tbsp. butter
1 vanilla pod, halved and scraped (optional; substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla extract)
1 egg plus 1 yolk (reserve extra egg white)
1/3 cup sugar
2 tsp. fresh ground cardamom
½ tsp. salt
4-5 cups flour
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
For the filling
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
4 tbsp. warm or hot milk
3 tsp. cinnamon
For the topping
1. Stir yeast, 2 tablespoons water, and 1 teaspoon sugar together in small bowl and set aside until foamy; about 5 minutes.
2. In small saucepan heat 1 cup milk, 6 tablespoons butter, and vanilla pod until butter just melts; remove from heat and cool mixture to 110 degrees. When mixture is cool, remove vanilla pod and add yeast mixture.
3. In large mixing bowl whisk egg, yolk, sugar, cardamom, and salt until well combined. Add milk-yeast mixture and stir until well combined.
4. Slowly stir in 4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour and knead until soft silky dough forms (Only add as much flour as you need. Dough should be slightly wet.); shape into a ball. Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to a clean bowl and roll dough ball in oil. Cover with plastic wrap or kitchen towel and rise to double; about 2 hours.
5. Prepare the filling: combine softened butter, sugars, warm milk, and cinnamon; blend until thoroughly mixed.
6. Divide dough into 2 sections. Roll each section into a 12 x 9 inch rectangle. Spread half the butter-sugar mixture over each square. Starting with the 12 inch side, roll the rectangle into a log. Repeat with second rectangle. Slice each log into 5 or 6 equal rounds. Place rolls cut-side-down, about 3 inches apart, onto buttered and parchment lined baking sheets. Cover and rise 30 minutes.
7. Whisk together reserved egg white and a few tablespoons of water. Brush tops of rolls with wash and sprinkle with pearl sugar; bake in 350 degree oven about 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on rack.