kanelbullar cake

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after visiting denmark a few days ago, i’m doing my best to embrace the danish concept of hygge (hue-gah). hygge roughly translates into coziness — ideally a coziness that leads to a sense of well-being and contentment. imagine sitting around a fireplace and drinking warm apple cider with friends, or curling up with a blanket and a book while a fierce winter storm rages outside. that’s hygge. 

i’m in sweden now, and my airbnb’s kitchen has pretty limited resources, but fortunately, when it comes to baking, the more rustic, the more hygge! i baked the cake layers in aluminum pie tins and whipped the frosting by hand, so it might not look as pristine as some of my other creations, but i like its simplicity. the cake’s flavors are inspired by swedish kanelbullar, popular cinnamon roll-like pastries made with cardamom-scented dough and filled with almonds and cinnamon. for maximum hygge-ness, eat this cake in a place where you’re surrounded by friends, blankets, and candles!!

cake (recipe adapted from molly yeh)

  • 1 3/4 cups sugar

  • 2 1/2 cups flour

  • 1 tsp kosher salt

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 2 tbsp ground cardamom

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract

  • 3/4 cup weak coffee, room temperature

frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream or milk

assembly

  • 10 oz marzipan
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp pearl sugar (optional)
  • 1 kanelbulle, store-bought (if you happen to be in sweden) or scratch-made (you can also just use an american cinnamon roll)

for the cake, preheat the oven to 350º. grease two 8-inch round pans and line with parchment paper. whisk together the sugar, flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cardamom in a medium bowl. whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla in a large bowl. whisk the dry ingredients into the wet until smooth, then whisk in the coffee. divide between the pans and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until just set. turn out onto racks and let cool.

for the frosting, beat together the butter and sugars in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. add the vanilla, salt, and cream, and beat for another few minutes.

to assemble, roll out half of the marzipan into an 8-inch circle. cover with plastic wrap and set aside. if desired, roll out the rest of the marzipan and cut out letters to spell “kanelbullar” (or whatever else you want). set aside. level the cake layers (if needed — mine were flat) and place one face up on a cake board. top with the marzipan circle, then spread with a generous amount of frosting. sprinkle with the almonds and pearl sugar. top with the other cake layer, face down, and spread with the remaining frosting. place the kanelbulle in the center, then arrange the marzipan letters around it.

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