Close this search box.

Orna’s Bulka Twists

South African Cinnamon Buns, Boolkes, Bulkas,,

We apologize as the recipe card program is currently experiencing some issues and will hopefully be fixed soon!
In the meantime, email me if you need a particular recipe card.

These tender, buttery Cinnamon Buns—inspired by my recent (and first!) trip to Paris—are a “twist” on my popular Bulkas recipe. Bulkas a/k/a Boolkes are traditional for Jews in South Africa (where I grew up), Australia, and around the world (where the South African Jews moved) for Yom Kippur Break-Fast.

Cinnamon Bulka Twists

Think mini babka meets yeasted rugelach.

Orna's Bulka Evolution

Orna's Best Bulkas Boolkes South African Cinnamon Buns
Orna's Best Bulkas
Orna's Quick Bulkas traditional South African Cinnamon Buns Rolls
Orna's Quick Bulkas
Orna's Bulka Twists

Now back to Paris: We managed to snag the last ticket for the “Emily in Paris” tour for my daughter, and hubby and I quietly tagged along. I had about two minutes to select something from Boulangerie Moderne—featured on the show—before the tour moved on. (High stress for this baker-foodie-libra)

I immediately honed in on the Cinnamon Buns. (Especially curious after being told by our culinary instructor the day before that “the French hate cinnamon.”)

Bakery Moderne from Emily in Paris
Cinnamon Buns at Boulangerie Moderne in Paris

After traipsing around in the heat for three hours, I happily plopped down on Emily and Mindy, my favorite character’s park bench, and proceeded to devour, asses, and obsess over every bite of “the best thing I ever ate.”

Orna on Emily and Mindy's park bench from Emily in Paris eating a cinnamon bun

I had to rely on memory alone to recreate the same buttery, melt-in-your mouth texture, not-too-sweet cinnamon deliciousness, and just enough satisfying chew.

My research revealed that they were basically Swedish Cinnamon Buns (!!), traditionally made with cardamom. (Cardamom buns would definitely be a shocker after a 24-hour fast, but the straight cinnamon version didn’t seem like too much of a stretch, right?) I did actually confirm this with my Bulka Banter Facebook group (are you a member yet?) and got many recipe requests, so I proceeded!

I wanted to develop an easy recipe for Breaking the Fast on Yom Kippur, or to enjoy anytime.

I made (and ate) batch after batch… simplifying my Quick Bulka brioche dough and creating a cinnamon filling that wouldn’t ooze out (this one took me a while to get just right!).

NEW Watch my 9-minute YouTube video for how to make Cinnamon Bulka Twists! (Recipe updated 9.10.23)

Pro Tips

  • For Parve (non-dairy) Bulkes substitute stick margarine for the butter and almond or oat milk for the milk.
  • Start with the liquid ingredients in the bowl first and the flour will incorporate more easily.
  • Rest the shaggy dough for 15 – 20 minutes (autolyse) for the flour to absorb all the liquid, making it easier to knead and you will need to add less flour overall.
  • Refrigerate the dough for 2 – 24 hours (the longer the better) which develops flavor and cold dough is much easier to work with.
  • Use the WINDOWPANE test to see if you have developed enough gluten (I used to find this intimidating, but it’s such an easy way to know if your dough has been kneaded enough). (Watch my YOUTUBE VIDEO for how to do this).
  • Roll the dough tall enough to get long strips, but if you need to lengthen them: gently bounce them on the counter while tugging on the ends to lengthen without stretching them out of shape (see video above).
  • Don’t skip the simple syrup—it makes them look g-g-gorgeous and keeps them moist and fresh. (Or you can just sprinkle them with sugar after the egg wash – see Apple Bulkas Recipe)


Here’s how to form the twists:

I hope these bring you and your family much joy. 💜

Please share this with family and friends who love Bulkas or Baking.

Join my Bulka Banter Facebook group and show us your bakes!


Orna Shifren Purkin Signature

This post may include Amazon affiliate links

Bulkas aka Boolkes - traditional South African Cinnamon Buns with a twist.

Orna's Bulka Twists

Tender, buttery Cinnamon buns aka Bulkas or Boolkes - traditional in South Africa, Australia, and worldwide for Breaking the Fast on Yom Kippur. The twists—inspired by my Paris trip—are a new spin on my original Best Bulkas, with my updated, easy Quick Bulka dough.
Join Bulka Banter on Facebook and show us your bakes! And please tag @ornabakes and share with family and friends who love baking and bulkas! 💜
5 from 2 votes
Servings 14 - 16




  • ½ cup (113g) unsalted butter melted and cooled Recommended: Kerrygold or other grass-fed
  • cup (63g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 2 large eggs room temperature, lightly beaten with a fork
  • ¾ cup (183g) whole milk lukewarm (100 – 110°F/38 – 43°C)
  • 3 ½ cups (420g) bread flour or all purpose flour, unbleached plus more for kneading/shaping
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast recommended: SAF Gold
  • canola or vegetable cooking spray


  • ¼ cup (50g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (60g) water


  • cup (76g) unsalted butter room temperature
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (16g) cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) bread flour or all purpose flour
  • pinch salt


  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • pinch sugar
  • pinch salt



  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • To the bowl of your stand mixer add butter, sugar, salt, eggs, milk, flour, yeast. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed (or with a spatula) until well combined.
  • If time permits, cover and rest the dough for 12 – 15 minutes (autolyse). This allows the flour to absorb all the moisture, making the dough easier to knead and you will need less flour overall.
  • Scrape the paddle and the bowl and switch to the dough hook. Knead for about 10 minutes on low speed; scrape the bowl and turn the dough over after 5 minutes. Dust in a tablespoon of flour if the dough doesn't start to pull away from the sides or is very sticky; the dough should be tacky but not sticky and should pull away from the sides. (See my YouTube video for visual cues) Try not to add too much flour or your buns will be heavy.
  • WINDOWPANE test: break off a small piece of dough and gently stretch it out between your fingers until you can almost see through it; if it tears or is hard to stretch, the gluten hasn't developed enough so knead a little longer and check again. (See my YouTube video for how to do this) See Notes.
  • Scrape onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand briefly to make sure you have a soft, supple, elastic dough. Use a bench scraper to help lift/move the dough and sprinkle flour on the counter if necessary.


  • Form the dough into a ball. Place in a large bowl sprayed with oil; press down to flatten (so you can see when it has doubled in size) and lightly spray top of dough (or turn dough over).
  • Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warmish spot, free from draughts, for 30 – 60 minutes until the yeast starts to activate and it starts to rise.
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours - the longer the better to develop flavor. (4 or more hours will give you a better result) Dough should be chilled completely and double in size.


  • Stir butter with firm spatula or spoon to soften. Add remaining filling ingredients and mash/whip to form a smooth paste. Cover and set aside. You can make ahead and refrigerate for 24 hours; bring to room temp before using. 


  • Turn dough out onto lightly floured counter (smooth side down). Press down firmly with both hands to deflate/degass, patting it into a rough rectangular shape that’s an even thickness, gently tugging on the corners. (It’s easier to roll into a rectangle if already in that basic shape)
  • Lightly flour top of dough and roll into a rectangle about 18 inches/45 cm wide x 14 inches/35 cm tall and about 1/4 inch/1/2 cm thick. Keep lifting and moving dough and flouring board to make sure it doesn't stick. Gently pull out corners if getting rounded.
  • Use a ruler/bench scraper to gently mark dough in vertical thirds. With an offset spatula, spread a thin even later of filling over left and middle thirds, going all the way to edges (you might have a little filling left over).
  • Fold right third without filling over middle and left third over it like a business letter. (LETTER FOLD).
  • Rotate dough so seams are at top and bottom. Roll out again to a large rectangle about 18 inches/5 cm wide and 12 inches/30cm tall. (Gently deflate any bubbles with your fingers and pinch any broken pieces of dough together)


  • Have a half-moist/half-dry towel standing by for your fingers (things can get messy!).
  • Trim left and right edges with ruler and pastry cutter/bench scraper; set aside in case you have a small piece on the end. (Or twirl them up and form a mini-bun for tasting 😉 )
  • Cut 14 - 16 vertical strips about 1 1/8 inches/3 cm wide (about 60 - 70g).
  • Twist both ends to form a spiral, pulling gently to keep lengthened. Hold one end between thumb and three fingers and wrap around your fingers, keeping it twisted (that's the key!). Pinch ends together underneath. (It's a bit awkward at first but you will get the hang of it!) OR you can move your fingers out and push end up through the middle (make sure to pinch the bottoms to seal or they can unravel). WATCH MY YOUTUBE VIDEO FOR BOTH METHODS
  • Place on prepared baking sheet (7 - 8 per sheet) leaving at least 2 inches/5 cm in between (they will rise and grow a lot).


  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in warmish spot to proof for 45 – 60 minutes until puffy (not quite double in size). (Or refrigerate overnight and bring to room temperature 30 – 40 minutes before baking)


  • Beat egg, water, salt and sugar with a fork until well blended.


  • Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C (STANDARD).
  • Gently brush first tray of buns all over with egg wash. (Carefully wipe any excess off parchment with folded paper towel)
  • Bake on middle rack for 13 – 16 minutes until golden brown all over and buns don’t feel squishy/doughy. Rotate pan after 10 minutes. If buns are getting too brown (but still doughy), cover loosely with foil and/or place on a second baking sheet. Or lower oven to 350°F/180°C after 10 – 12 minutes.
  • Place baking sheet on cooling rack to cool; brush with Simple Syrup while still hot.
  • Repeat with second tray.
  • Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Best enjoyed on day they are made, but will last 2 – 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature (do not refrigerate).
  • Reheat/refresh at 300°F/150°C for 3 – 5 minutes, loosely covered with foil.


  • Freeze in ziplock bags, expelling as much air as possible. Thaw at room temperature and reheat as above.


  • I prefer to make, bake, cool, freeze. But you can freeze buns before baking for up to 5 days: place on parchment-lined baking sheet (uncovered), freeze until solid then place in an airtight container separated by parchment, or in freezer bags, removing as much air as possible. Thaw overnight in refrigerator on baking sheet loosely covered with plastic. Let sit at room temperature 30 – 40 minutes. Bake as above.


  • After proofing (in a large bowl), turn dough out onto counter and cut in half with bench scraper. Place flat side down and press down with your hand to flatten and pat into rectangle. Cover with plastic and place in ziploc bag for up to 24 hours while you work with first half.


  • Substitute stick margarine for the butter and oat milk or almond milk for the whole milk. Special thanks to Glynis Rosenberg Smith for making my recipe and sharing her parve version with me. 😍


Adapted from Orna's Quick Bulkas
Technique adapted from Milk Street Swedish Cardamom Buns
Simple Syrup seals in moisture, keeps them fresh and makes them look fancy! But if you'd like to skip it, sprinkle buns with sugar after brushing with egg wash.
SAF Gold is formulated for doughs that are higher in sugar. I buy it on Amazon and freeze in a freezer ziplor for up to one year. But SAF red also works great. Or you can use any instant yeast. Bring to room temp before using.

*This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links whereby I earn a tiny commission at no additional cost to you.

share this recipe:


If you like this recipe you might also like these!

6 Responses

  1. 5 stars
    So excited with your new Recipe!
    Can’t wait to make them for Breaking the Fast after Yom Kippur.
    Must experiment the dough making just before Rosh Hashanah. Many thanks
    Will SEND a sample once made
    Felicity Isserow

  2. 5 stars
    Fabulous treat for many reasons! Good to see you all so happy and celebrating! My mother used to make the cinnamon buns as a treat for our family when I was growing up. She formed them in the twisted style with the yummy cinnamon filling inside and topped it confection sugar frosting which she colored pink or blue.. They were my favorite and I couldn’t eat enough of them or wait until they cooled! Orna, thanks to you awesome talents, enthusiasm,. and wonderful clear preparation and teachings I will be able to make them for my family too!

    Thank you and love you all,
    Aunt Marilyn

    1. What warm and wonderful words from you, dearest Marilyn. Your love and support is always appreciated. Sending lots of love your way. 💜

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating