Sourdough Kanelstang

January 19, 2022
11 Ratings
Photo by Maurizio Leo
  • Prep time 9 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • makes One 16-inch kanelstang
Author Notes

Lately, in my baking, I’ve been enamored with everything rollable, twistable, and just plain knot-able. It’s fun to mix together an easy, enriched dough (like this one!) and let inspiration dictate a filling, a shape, and even a topping. In this recipe, inspiration started with a Danish kanelstang, or “cinnamon stick,” which is similar to an American-style cinnamon roll in dough and flavor, but baked off as a log gussied up with intricate cuts and served with a shower of sliced almonds and a final flourish of drizzled icing. It’s a fun snack to lay out on a long cutting board for guests to pull off pieces and enjoy—though you could just as easily slice it after everyone has admired the finished product.

For this recipe, I use my sourdough starter directly in the mix as opposed to using a levain. Using your starter directly makes this recipe easier and generally less fussy, and also more versatile. Just be sure that your starter has fermented for some number of hours and is ripe (with a sour aroma and a looser consistency than when first mixed)—this will be the same time you’d normally give it a feeding (aka refreshment).

It’s best to cover the dough during its lengthy proof time on a half sheet pan. If you have large plastic proofing bags, use one of these to cover the dough. Alternatively, place two small cups or glasses to either side of the dough and wrap the entire sheet pan with plastic wrap. The cups will help keep the plastic up off of the dough during proofing. —Maurizio Leo

What You'll Need
  • Kanelstang Dough
  • 70 grams (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
  • 235 grams all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
  • 87 grams whole milk
  • 50 grams egg (about 1 large—no need to scoop out extra here)
  • 15 grams superfine or granulated sugar
  • 6 grams (about 1¼ teaspoons) fine sea salt, divided
  • 68 grams ripe sourdough starter, 100% hydration
  • 100 grams light brown sugar
  • 6 grams ground cinnamon
  • Egg Wash, Topping & Icing
  • 50 grams egg (about 1 large—no need to scoop out extra here)
  • 29 grams (about 2 tablespoons) whole milk, divided, plus more as needed
  • 50 grams sliced almonds (optional)
  • 50 grams confectioners’ sugar
  1. Mix the dough (9:00 a.m.)

    Cut 56 grams (4 tablespoons) of the butter into small pieces, place it on a plate, and set it aside to soften to room temperature. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, add 218 grams of the flour, 87 grams milk, egg, 15 grams sugar, 5 grams of the salt (about 1 teaspoon), and 68 grams ripe sourdough starter. Set the mixer to low speed and mix until all the ingredients are combined and no dry bits of flour remain. Turn the mixer up to medium-low and mix for 3 to 5 minutes until the dough starts to clump around the dough hook. This is a small amount of dough in the mixer, so if at any time the dough fails to effectively move around with the dough hook, you can switch to the paddle attachment. This is a moderately strong dough at this point, but it won’t completely pull away from the bottom of the mixing bowl.

    Let the dough rest 10 minutes in the mixing bowl, uncovered.

    The butter should be at room temperature by this time (meaning a finger should easily push into a piece with little resistance). With the mixer turned on to low speed, add the butter, one piece at a time, waiting to add the next until the previous is incorporated, 4 to 6 minutes total. Once all of the butter is added, turn the mixer up to medium-low and continue to mix until the dough smooths and once again begins clinging to the dough hook, 2 to 3 minutes. The dough will be cohesive, smooth, and elastic at the end of mixing.

    Transfer the dough to another large container (or leave in the mixing bowl) for bulk fermentation.
  2. Bulk ferment the dough (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.)

    Cover the dough with a reusable airtight cover and let it rise at warm room temperature (76°F/24°C) for a total of 4 hours. During this time, you’ll give the dough one set of “stretches and folds” (see next step for explanation) to give it additional strength. This set is performed 1 hour after the start of bulk fermentation. Set a timer for 1 hour and let the dough rest, covered. After 1 hour, give the dough its only set of stretches and folds.

    To stretch and fold: An hour after the start of bulk fermentation, wet your hands, grab the north side (the side farthest from you) of the dough, and stretch it up and over to the south side. Then, fold the south side up to the north. Then, perform two more folds, one from east to west and one from west to east. Finally, let the dough rest, covered, for the remaining 3 hours of bulk fermentation.
  3. Chill the dough (1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.)

    Check the dough; after 4 hours, it should have risen about 30% in the bulk fermentation container, have a few scattered bubbles, have a smoother and slightly domed surface, and be moderately light and fluffy to the touch. If the dough still looks sluggish or feels dense after 4 hours, give it another 30 minutes to rise in a warm spot. Place the covered bulk fermentation container into the refrigerator for 1 hour. Alternatively, the dough can be left in the refrigerator overnight and the remainder of the steps continued in the morning.
  4. Roll and fill the dough (2:30 p.m.)

    Melt the remaining 14 grams of butter, then let cool. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and place it near your work surface. In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter, 100 grams brown sugar, remaining 17 grams all-purpose flour, 6 grams cinnamon, and remaining 1 gram (about 1/4 teaspoon) fine sea salt until combined.

    Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and uncover. It should be cool and semi-firm to the touch. Flour a work surface and use a bowl scraper to scrape the dough out to the floured surface gently. Next, flour the top of the dough and, using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to a rectangle shape that’s about 11 by 16 inches, with the short end closest to your body.

    Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough, pressing down gently to adhere, and leaving a 1-inch gap at the end of the dough farthest from you. Then, as tightly as possible, roll up the dough starting with the (short) end closest to you. When you reach the end, press the dough log down against the bare 1 inch of dough to seal. Transfer the dough to the center of the prepared half sheet pan and cover with a large plastic bag, or use plastic wrap to cover (taking care so the wrap doesn’t fall on the dough).
  5. Proof the rolled dough (3:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.)

    Proof the dough at a warm temperature (74°F to 76°F/23°C to 24°C is ideal) for about 3 hours 30 minutes to 4 hours. If your kitchen is on the cool side, expect the dough to take longer to proof. Extend the proof time as necessary until the dough has puffed to about double in size and slowly springs back when poked. During the proof time, you might notice the filling slightly leak out of the dough; this is okay (and you can sop it up with a paper towel before baking if desired).
  6. Bake and finish the kanelstang (6:30 p.m.)

    Heat the oven to 350°F (175°C) with a rack in the middle. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and 14 grams milk for the egg wash.

    Using kitchen shears (or clean scissors), starting at one end of the dough log and working toward the other, cut the dough—almost, but not all the way through the log—into approximately 2-inch pieces at a diagonal. Once the cylinder is cut, alternate pushing each segment outward away from the center (and the one before it). When finished, you’ll have a series of oval-shaped dough petals spread outward in an alternating pattern, resembling a stalk of wheat (see photo).

    Lightly brush the entire surface of the dough with the egg wash, sprinkle on the sliced almonds (if using), and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the pan back to front and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the kanelstang is puffed and mostly golden with spots of light brown. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheet pan placed on top of a wire rack for 15 minutes.

    For the icing, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners' sugar and remaining 15 grams milk (using a little more milk as necessary to thin the icing so it slowly runs off the end of a spoon). Then, drizzle the icing over the cooled kanelstang before serving. This is best the day it’s baked, but can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days; reheat gently in a 350°F (175°C) oven for 5 minutes.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Toby Malina
    Toby Malina
  • Maurizio Leo
    Maurizio Leo
  • Junefd
Maurizio is the software engineer-turned-baker behind the award-winning sourdough website, The Perfect Loaf. Since baking his first loaf of bread, he's been obsessed with adjusting the balance between yeast and bacteria, tinkering with dough strength and hydration, and exploring everything sourdough. His New York Times Bestselling sourdough cookbook, The Perfect Loaf, is now available.

28 Reviews

Junefd February 27, 2022
I have wanted to make this for a long time I’ve and finally got to it today. It tastes good, but most of the filling oozed out of the petals and caramelized on the pan during baking. Wondering what went wrong?
Maurizio L. February 28, 2022
Hey there! Some filling will leak out, it's to be expected (I mentioned you can sop that up if desired, but I like to have that crunchy layer of caramel on the bottom). If you roll the dough up tighter, it can help prevent too much for leaking out!
Sjsland February 17, 2022
Definitely a winner. Instructions are thorough and clear. Made a schedule for myself which helped keep my on track. Question- would not bringing the bread to room temp before baking offer a better interior texture? And next time I will bake the full thirty minites vs. Twenty-five. The five minutes will bring it to perfection. Thank you for such careful instructions.
Maurizio L. February 17, 2022
Glad you liked it! Thanks so much for the comments and feedback. So I do actually call for it to proof at room/warm temp before baking. But if you stuck it in the fridge, that's ok too. Regarding bake from cold or not, it really depends on the dough! It's important that it's fully proofed, and if you let it proof far enough before sticking it in the fridge, you can bake straight from cold. For this dough, I'd probably let it warm some to test how far along it is (by poking it gently).
cpopo January 28, 2022
These were delicious! I let mine rise overnight in the fridge during the first rise and mine had to rise quite a bit longer once rolled due to it being in the -30s (celcius) here and so my house being a little colder than usual. I definitely recommend not cleaning up any drippage you get from the cinnamon butter mix since it melts into this really tasty chewy candy, almost like taffy (or at least mine did)!
Maurizio L. January 29, 2022
So glad to hear it turned out well! I agree, I love those sticky bits 🙂
Roro101 January 28, 2022
I loved this recipe! It popped up in my Instagram feed at just the right moment when I had starter in need of a recipe and cold weather perfect for cinnamon buns. I left my starter a little too long on the counter and it was past it's peak ripeness so I supplemented with a 1/2tsp of instant yeast to make sure I got the rise I expected. Maurizio's guide was excellent and helped me through my own mistake of forgetting to add the egg. I almost gave up, thinking it was never going to come together - even after adding an additional 2tbsp of milk thinking maybe it was the extreme winter dryness going on in my house. I re-read the recipe and realized I forgot the egg! Whoops!! I added the egg after the autolyse period and it did come together and behaved like a proper enriched dough after an additional sprinkle of flour to balance the extra liquid added in my error.

Following my bulk ferment, I rolled out the dough, filled and then popped it in the fridge. The extra yeast did its work and it rose just enough in the fridge before it got too cold. It was easy to cut the roll in the morning while the oven preheated and yes, the filling leaked like crazy. It became a delicious toffee while baking, so no loss and truthfully, I think if all the sugar had remained it would have been too sweet.

The oven spring did cause my petals to shift back to center a little, but it was still gorgeous and lasted only the one day with my family of four. These were probably the most delicious cinnamon buns to ever come out of my kitchen! Sticky buns we have long declared to be too sweet and this kanelstang is the perfect balance of sweet and indulgent. Thanks Maurizio for the recipe!
Maurizio L. January 29, 2022
Happy to hear it was enjoyed by all! I purposefully went the route of not-too-sweet on this one, like you said, these things can quickly go overboard and I tend to keep things on the lighter side (well, except for my babka 🙂). Have a great weekend and thanks for the comments!
Smaug January 25, 2022
This is a pretty long recipe, but people shouldn't be intimidated by that; it's really a pretty straightforward recipe for an enriched yeast dough; if you've made cinnamon rolls you should be on pretty familiar ground. It does take a while because sourdough is pretty deliberate. I made a half recipe (still a pretty substantial piece of pastry) and mixed it by hand, no problem. I finished with a lemon juice/confectioner's sugar glaze, applied while warm; I like lemon with cinnamon. As far as cinnamon goes, I have no clear idea of what a gram of cinnamon looks like; I had added what seemed like (and proved to be) quite enough without my usually trusty Oxo scale registering, and I'm pretty sure it was a scale glitch; at any rate, they should be quite cinnamony. Other than that, it all went quite smoothly. Unfortunately, I didn't really like the flavor of the sourdough in this dish. Or maybe fortunately; it seems to me mostly a morning dish, and it would be a lot easier to work out a morning baking schedule with commercial yeast.
Smaug January 25, 2022
Wow, a lot of "pretty" in there; I need to start proofreading these things before I post them. Pretty soon.
Maurizio L. January 25, 2022
Thanks for all the feedback! Definitely a straightforward recipe if you've made cinnamon rolls in the past, just with a little twist at the end 🙂
Smaug January 28, 2022
In the interest of science, I thought I'd do some experimenting; made up a bunch of dough (I used commercial yeast and the recipe was an improv, but this dough would work fine). I took about 80g. dough (a good size for an individual roll), rolled it out to about 11"x5" (quite thin) and filled and rolled that same as in this recipe, except I left a bit on the short sides unfilled so I could seal the ends, and I added some walnut pieces to the filling. I then rolled that up, snailshell fashion for an individual roll with hidden filling. I found that if rolled tightly they would rise quite high in the center, rolled loosely they'd be flatter. I thought the result was pretty good, and maybe worth some more experimenting. Also tried one that I made with no nuts in the filling, formed the roll and then rolled that out again and filled and finished it in the same way, made for a pretty interesting interior. Can't give baking instructions, as I was using a countertop oven which is very individualistic in how it cooks things, but something like 20 min. at 350 should do it. A bit time consuming, but the alternative being to do something useful- like clean the bathroom- not a bad way to pass an hour.
Mehar22 January 24, 2022
I just made this and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever made. I omitted the egg and added yogurt instead. The result was this light and fluffy dough with a crispy edge, gooey cinnamon and chocolate filling and toasted almonds. A must bake for the winters!!!
Maurizio L. January 24, 2022
So glad it turned out well for you!
Smaug January 25, 2022
Wait a minute, chocolate? I personally loathe chocolate with cinnamon but a lot of people like it, could you give some detail on exactly what you did?
Toby M. January 23, 2022
Everything went to plan until the final proof. Not much in the way of a final rise and lots of leakage (which you mentioned), which made for a very flabby dough and quite a mess to cut. I'll try again and see if I have better luck next time!

Question, if we roll from the short side 11" and you say to cut the sections at about 2", how did you end up with 8 sections in the photos?
Maurizio L. January 24, 2022
Ah, sorry to hear that, Toby! There's a balance with this dough, you want to keep it warm to encourage a relatively speedy proof, but not too warm so the filling doesn't excessively melt out. One thing: be sure to roll it tightly!

Great question about the petal size, it might be a little closer to 1.5" per cut, but my dough always ends up elongating some by the time I go to cut it from the proof time (it puffs up and a little outward). But, I'd say at least 1.5" per petal should work!
Rbaconede January 23, 2022
I’m excited to try this, but i have a question about the timeline between steps 4 and 5. It looks like rolling and filling happens at 2:30, then It needs to rose for 3.5 hours, which would be 6pm, but the recipe says to proof from 1-4:30. Am i missing something?
Rbaconede January 23, 2022
Needs to rise*
Maurizio L. January 23, 2022
Sorry about that, it was a typo! The dough should be baked at 630pm after that final 3.5 hr proof. I've fixed the post above. If it's too late to bake, after you roll the dough you can proof in the fridge overnight, then the next day, take it out and let it finish proofing on the counter until puffy. Then, cut and bake.
annonymouse January 22, 2022
I made this and have a question; why wouldn't we cut the "petals" from the formed roll before the final rise? When I did this my "petals" became quite deformed and deflated when I cut them after the rise just before baking and my end result looks ridiculous.
Maurizio L. January 23, 2022
I actually do call for cutting the dough just before baking (not before proofing). Check step 6!
annonymouse January 23, 2022
Thanks for responding! My concern is that handling the petals right before baking caused them to deflate and become deformed. Is there a reason not to cut the petals right after forming the roll?
Maurizio L. January 24, 2022
You could certainly try that! I feel like they'll rise a little wonky, though, and probably separate a bit. The filling may leak a little more as well. But it's certainly possible!

The key with this is to really roll everything up nice and tightly. That way, when you cut just before baking, it's still in really good form.

Let me know if you try the other way, I'd be curious if that works out well for you!
Smaug January 25, 2022
I cut them before rising, maybe there was a bit more leakage than otherwise but nothing I'd call a problem.
Smaug January 20, 2022
Maurizio- looking forward to trying this; I've been baking a lot faster than I can eat this winter, so I'm a bit backed up. I've been working a lot with laminated doughs, and I've been considering trying to work out a sourdough Danish pastry- wondering if you'd done any work in that direction, or have any suggestions? The major problem I see is that most of the moisture in a Danish dough comes from eggs; it might require a drier sort of levain. Also, there's always a bit of conflict between getting it to rise while keeping the butter layer from melting. Fun fun fun. Happy baking.
Maurizio L. January 21, 2022
It's a tasty one! This is technically a sourdough Danish pastry, and many Danish pastry are kind of similar (roll out, spread filling, roll or cut, bake, ice). If you want to try and reduce the water in egg, only use the yolk so you can more precisely measure your dough hydration. I almost always use the whole egg, though, and just adjust when mixing by holding back other liquid as necessary. They are tricky for sure, though, and text many tests! Let me know how you like this one, it's fun!
Smaug January 24, 2022
Well it's a pastry and it's Danish, but "Danish Pastry" as known to me (and to Cook's Illustrated and Wikipedia, my two sources currently within arms reach) is something else, a laminated dough basically like puff pastry with yeast, somewhat fewer layers. I've been using a basic recipe from Cook's Illustrated. Currently working on the Kanelstang; kind of a relief in a way- I've been working on laminated doughs the last month and my butter consumption has reached a fairly alarming level.