Kanelbullar or cinnamon buns are a classic at Swedish coffee parties. During the golden age of home baking, such parties turned into orgies of sweet yeast breads, small cookies, cookies with fillings, pastries and cakes. This tradition lives on in Sweden. If you are invited to someone’s home for coffee, you always get a cinnamon bun, a cookie or a piece of cake with it. And at cafés, dainty little cookies continue to compete with all those supersized American muffins.
Crumble the yeast in a bowl and stir in a few tablespoons of milk. Melt the butter and pour the milk on it. Add the rest of the ingredients and knead the dough in a dough mixer for 10–15 minutes. Let the dough rise while covered at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough so it is about 3 mm (1/8 in) thick and 30 cm (12 in) wide. Spread the room-temperature butter on top. Make a mixture of sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle it over the dough. Roll the dough the long way and cut the roll into about 25 slices. Place them with the cut edge upward in paper molds. Place on a baking sheet and let rise under a towel for about 60 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.
Beat together the egg and water, brush the mixture carefully on the buns and sprinkle pearl sugar on top. Bake in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Allow to cool on a rack.