Kanelstang (Danish Cinnamon Twist)
I don’t know what your plans are this weekend, but if I may make a suggestion, I think you should bake a kanelstang! A traditional Danish kanelstang is a long cinnamon twist essentially made of a bunch of cinnamon rolls (kanelboller) that are connected on the bottom.
You know how the best part of a cinnamon roll is the center? Well, since the cinnamon rolls here are still all connected, it’s like the whole kanelstang is the center of the cinnamon roll. It’s extra soft and buttery, and the kanelstang won’t dry out as quickly as cinnamon rolls. You can slice up the kanelstang or let everyone simply pull it apart into pieces.
You’ll find these in most supermarkets and bakeries in Scandinavia, but they’re actually quite easy to make at home. This recipe makes two, so you can give one away or freeze it for later (or eat them both).
I use fresh yeast in this recipe, as is most common here in Scandinavia, but if you don’t have access to fresh yeast you can use dry instead. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the yeast packet, as you may need to proof the yeast before adding the other ingredients. Otherwise follow the recipe as is!
I’ve also had kanelstang filled with vanilla cream or chopped apples on top of the cinnamon butter, both of which were delicious. You can use the vanilla cream from my solskinnsboller recipe, or just chop up an apple into small pieces if you want to dress up your kanelstang a bit more.
The kanelstang looks like an intricate braid, but it’s actually made by cutting sections into a long cinnamon roll. When making the cuts for the kanelstang, cut about 3/4 towards the bottom, but not all the way through as you want the bottom to stay connected. Then twist each cut section to alternating sides.
At the end I push all the sections forward a bit to make the kanelstang more compact. The kanelstang looks pretty messy when you’re making all the cuts, but trust the process – it will look beautiful once it’s baked!
I bake the kanelstang in the lower section of my oven, on the rack between the middle and bottom racks. If you only have a middle or bottom rack, I would bake it for about 10 minutes on the bottom and then move it to the middle so the top can brown a bit more.
Keep an eye on the kanelstang in the oven, as you don’t want to over bake them as then they can become hard and dry. I bake mine for 17 minutes, but the exact time will depend on your oven.
The kanelstang also tastes great without the sugar glaze on top. If you plan on freezing the kanelstang, freeze it without the icing.
You can drizzle the glaze over the kanelstang in a plastic bag with a small hole. I actually used the plastic wrap that I had used to cover the cinnamon twists when they were rising. I spooned the glaze onto the middle of the plastic wrap and gathered it together like a bag. It was a bit messier than using a plastic bag, but I think the glaze looks best messy.
You can switch the recipe from US measurements to metric by clicking from “US Customary” to “Metric” under Ingredients.
Kanelstang (Danish Cinnamon Twist)
- Rolling Pin
- mortar and pestal (for grinding cardamom seeds)
- 1 cup milk (lukewarm)
- 2 tsp instant yeast (or 25 g fresh yeast)
- 1 tsp cardamom seeds
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 9 tbsp butter (room temperature)
- 3 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 7 tbsp butter (room temperature)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp corn starch
- 1 egg
- 6 tbsp powdered sugar
- Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm milk.
- Grind the cardamom seeds into a powder with a mortar and pestle. Add the sugar and ground cardamom to the milk and stir until dissolved.
- Add the butter and about half of the flour and mix until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the flour and the salt, until you can knead the dough without it sticking (you may need less flour). Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 10 minutes, until it's elastic.
- Cover and let the dough rise until double in size, about one hour.
- Combine the softened butter, sugars, cinnamon, and cornstarch, mixing until smooth.
- Roll out the dough into a large square.
- Spread the cinnamon filling evenly across the square of dough, leaving a couple inches free from filling at the top. Then slowly roll the square up from the bottom to the top.
- Cut the long roll in half and place both halves on a baking sheet lined with baking paper.
- Cut about ten evenly space slits in each roll, cutting almost down to the bottom of the roll but not all the way through. Twist the first section of dough to the right, the next to the left, then to the right, and so on, alternating each section (see video).
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise again for about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F). Whisk the egg with a splash of water and gently brush onto the top of kanelstang.
- Bake the kanelstang for 15-20 minutes in the lower section of the oven (I bake mine in the row between the middle and bottom row) until golden brown.
- Mix powdered sugar with a bit of water until you get a thick glaze. Spoon it into a plastic bag or in a bit of plastic wrap and cut a small hole. Drizzle the glaze over the kanelstang.