There is an intense ruggedness at this time of year when autumn is holding on tightly before winter sweeps through for good. The sky is more often than not a grey hue with gaps of blue sometimes piercing through. The landscape is subdued, quiet even, as it slowly paces toward the end of another season. The fog comes rolling in with more vigor, covering everything in its path in a billowy embrace. It’s a magical time; a window between the end of one period and the start of a new.
It’s a time when I find myself clinging to autumn, for a few more days when the air is crisp and smells of earth and aging leaves. I cling all the way until Thanksgiving, a holiday we have celebrated no matter where in the world our feet have been. When the sun rises the following morning, I peacefully come to terms that autumn gave it’s all and will return again with the same energy. Now, I can fully embrace what winter has in store.
It felt right to include a new tradition on the morning of Thanksgiving this year. The smell of freshly baked cinnamon rolls wafting through the air to invite the holiday in before the scuffle to work and school begins (for in Norway this day is like any other Thursday, with normal routines still intact). Rather than make the usual skillingsboller (cinnamon buns), it needed to include a berry befitting of the day. We don’t have cranberries, but we do have tyttebær (lingonberries). They grow all around us and a fall forage always leaves us with plenty to use throughout the winter.
So, these sweet buns filled with cinnamon, butter, and sugar got a couple of handfuls of lingonberries tossed in. Rolled up, sliced, and then snuggled in tightly, they consumed a pie dish and filled the air with a sweet, buttery, holiday scent. Lathered in a simple orange glaze didn’t hurt either and they disappeared before the turkey was on the table.
These buns are very indulgent and the contrast between the sugary filling and the tart lingonberries is inviting for seconds. You can easily swap out the lingonberries for cranberries, just be sure to cut them into smaller pieces. You can also use lingonberry jam, but then you will need to omit the brown sugar (or at least most of it) and adjust the layer of butter. Also, you can bake them on a cookie sheet, spaced apart rather than together in a pie or tart dish. See below for the time adjustments. They are great on their own, but a good drizzle of the orange glaze will really elevate these rolls.
Lingonberry Cinnamon Sweet Buns (kanelsnurrer med tyttebær)
(Makes 12 buns)
For the sweet buns:
- ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon (125 g) butter
- 1 cup (240 ml) milk
- 5 cups (600 g) flour
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 g) granulated sugar
- 2 ounces (50 g) fresh yeast or 2/3 ounces (17 g) active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
For the lingonberry-cinnamon filling:
- ¾ cup (175 g) brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (112 g) butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups (180 g) frozen lingonberries (substitute frozen cranberries, chopped)
For the orange glaze:
- 1 cup (120 g) powdered sugar
- Juice from ½ orange, or more as needed
- Zest from 1 orange
To make the sweet buns, warm the milk and butter in a medium saucepan, until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat.
Place the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a kitchen mixer with the bread hook. Add in the milk and butter mixture and begin to knead. Add in the egg and continue kneading for 8-10 minutes on medium-low speed. If you do not have a kitchen mixer, just blend everything in a large bowl and knead by hand, around 15 minutes. The dough should be soft, smooth and elastic. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm spot for 11⁄2 hours or until doubled in size.
In the meantime, prepare the filling by blending together the brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease 2 pie dishes or line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a well-floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll out the dough into a large rectangle that measures roughly 18 × 22 inches (45 × 56 cm), with the longer side directly in front of you. Spread the cinnamon/butter mixture over the entire surface of the dough, spreading it to the edges. Evenly distribute the frozen lingonberries on top. Gently roll the dough horizontally to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the log into 12 pieces. Arrange the buns evenly inside the pie dishes. Let the buns rise for 40 minutes. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until nicely browned and cooked through. Alternatively, bake the buns spaced apart on the parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 to 12 minutes or until nicely browned. *I tried to squeeze 8 buns in one large pie dish and it took much longer to cook the buns all the way through. You can also bake one pie dish filled with buns and then bake the remaining on a baking sheet as I did.
While the buns are cooling, prepare the orange glaze. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar with the fresh orange juice and zest with a fork to form a semi-thick glaze (adjust the orange juice as you go to get the desired consistency). Drizzle on top of the buns and serve immediately. The glaze will harden as the buns cool.
Refrigerate the leftovers for up to 2 days, reheating when serving.
Looking for more ways to serve lingonberries? Try my lingonberry layer cake (bløtkake med tyttebær).