Swedish Cardamom Rolls (Kardemummabullar)
You guys, I'm so excited to share these rolls with you!! I think it's safe to say that I've established my love for cinnamon by now but I don't know that I have done as good a job at emphasizing how much I love cardamom. In fact, I feel like cinnamon is always outshining cardamom and I think it's time we put a stop to it. Cardamom deserves his day in the sun g'dammit!! Why cardamom is masculine is beyond me, so don't ask. What I do know and will happily share is that cardamom is insanely fragrant and most potent in both flavor and aroma when found in the pod form or seed form. Those (famous--I might be reaching here) little green cardamom pods are home to tiny black cardamom seeds that are bursting with a spicy aroma and are ripe for the grinding. The flavor profile is crazy complex and can be described as spicy, sweet, floral, and almost medicinal (think eucalyptus) and has a peppery after taste.
Wow, that's a lot of info on cardamom. Sorry for geeking out. Anyway back to the cinnamon-cardamom war (ok, it's not a war but I'm feeling dramatic). The other day I was thinking about how cinnamon gets so much love and has rolls, breads, bagels, pretzels, poptarts, donuts, heck, pretty much any and every baked good out there devoted to it and yet I couldn't think of a single sweet that pays tribute to cardamom. Thanks to google, I learned that I got that wrong and thankfully the Swedes are appreciate of cardamom. Random fact, cardamom is the third most expensive spice, second to saffron and vanilla (I love you too, vanilla). But anyway, yes, the sweet Swedes share my love for cardamom! They make both kardemummabröd (cardamom bread) and kardemummabullar (cardamom buns/rolls), pair them with coffee, and serve them up for coffee breaks also known as Fika. Saveur just did a little write up on the Swedish tradition of Fika in their most recent issue and even shared a recipe for cardamom bread, which can be found here. What I love about Fika is that it's about more than just taking a coffee break--it's about taking a moment to break, hang with friends, and indulge in something sweet. The fact that cardamom often stars in that tradition is just a bonus. P.s. Isn't that super exciting news for cardamom--dare I say he's trending?
Let's talk about these rolls because I'm v v excited to share them with all of you. First of all, they're so much fun to make. And don't read that last statement with sarcasm cause I'm serious, they are!! Start to finish, this recipe is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding to make. Partially because the act of making bread is always soothing, in my opinion, and also because rolling these little guys up is really fun, dare I say delightful (inside joke and that joke goes like this: once upon a time I used that word way too often and had to stop using it) and the finished product is exciting every time. I mean seriously, they come out so pretty I could scream (with happiness). And they're so buttery and delicious that I promise whomever you share them with will be your new best friend.
Time-out: Today's post is super heavy on images. It's because I want to make sure you've got a lot of visuals so you can get it right and come out feeling as good about these rolls as I did. I don't really know if there's a downside, other than, it might have taken a little longer to load, sorry! Time-in. (Yes, total Saved by the Bell Zack Morris move inspired by this skit.)
Please, do yourself a favor and watch this GIF a few times before you attempt to roll your rolls. I've done my best to write out how to roll these guys up but it's really easier to show than it is to explain. And even if you aren't planning on making these, you have to admit, the process of rolling them up looks really fun, right?
If this post inspires anyone who may have been on the fence about cardamom to give it a go, I feel like I've done my job!
A few tips, because if I've learned anything from my years in restaurants, it's that life is always better with tips:
- Please measure out all your dough ingredients before getting started. It'll really help you when you throw your dough together move things along much quicker.
- This may seem like a no brainer but please read through this at least twice. The recipe calls for cardamom seeds, not pods, meaning if you have green pods (like I did, you'll have to split them open and get the seeds out before you measure them out or you'll get way less cardamom than this recipe calls for.
- Save yourself some time and grind/crush all your seeds (for the dough, filling, and topping) at the same time.
- I know I already said it but please watch the GIF a few times. I swear it'll help!!
- Preheat your oven at least 30 minutes before baking so it really has time to heat up. These rolls are only in there for a few minutes, so it's important to give your oven a change to preheat properly.
- Brush with glaze immediately, not after 10 minutes of cooling. The first time I made these, I made the mistake of waiting, and I hate to say it but it did make a difference.
- Finally, share with friends, family, coworkers, preferably over coffee, as Fika should definitely be practiced everywhere, not just in Sweden!
Swedish Cardamom Rolls (Kardemummabullar)
Adapted from Kokblog's Kanelbullar
Makes 15-20 rolls
- 1 c. + 1 Tbsp. (250 ml) milk, heated to 110°F
- 1 envelope dry active yeast (7 g)
- 1/3 c. (67 g) light brown sugar
- 3 1/4 c. (406 g) all-purpose flour, plus more to flour surfaces
- 1 tsp. whole cardamom seeds
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 5.3 Tbsp. (75 g) butter (at room temperature)
- Oil/cooking spray (to grease bowl)
- 4.5 Tbsp. (about 63 g) butter (at room temperature)
- 1/3 c. (65 g) dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp. whole cardamom seeds
- 1/4 c. (59 ml) water
- 1/4 c. (50 g) light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste
- 1 tsp. (2 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. whole cardamom seeds
- Mortar and pestle or spice grinder
- Stand mixer
- Glass measuring cup
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Mixing bowls
- Rolling pin
- Small saucepan
- Silicone spatula/offset spatula
- Clean kitchen towels
- Sharp knife or pastry wheel (w/straight blade)
- Baking sheets lined with parchment or silpat mats
- Wire rack
- Pastry brush
- Pregrease/oil a large bowl and set aside.
- In a bowl, add yeast to the lukewarm milk with 1 tsp. light brown sugar and stir until yeast has dissolved. Let activate for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, grind/crush cardamom seeds with spice grinder or mortar and pestle. In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, mix together flour, light brown sugar (less 1 tsp.), cardamom, and salt.
- Change the attachment to the dough hook attachment.
- After yeast has been activated, add your yeast/milk mixture to the flour mixture and mix on low until dough begins to come together. Increase speed to medium-low and add cubed butter in handfuls. Once all the butter has been added, increase speed to medium/medium-high and knead for about 5 minutes. You want this to be a fairly loose dough, so whatever you do, don't over knead.
- Scrape dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a bun, tucking the edges toward the center. Place in your greased bowl, seam side down and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Place bowl in a warm place and let it rise for at least 40 minutes.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitter with paddle attachment, combine butter, dark brown sugar, and freshly ground/crushed cardamom seeds (see #3 in dough instructions on how to grind/crush) and mix together on medium-low until creamy and smooth.
- Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat mats and set aside.
- Roll out dough into a 13” x 21” rectangle on a lightly floured surface.
- Spread filling onto the rolled out dough rectangle with silicone spatula or offset spatula so that it covers the entire area from edge to edge.
- Mark 7" sections on the 21" side with the back of a knife so that you have three equal sections. Fold left side to the middle, than fold the right side over the left side. Turn the dough so that the openings are on the left and right sides and roll out the dough slightly.
- Using your ruler and sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut 2 cm strands. You should have 15-20 strands.
- Starting from the end, wrap one strand around the tips of your thumb and four fingers (three if you have big hands) twice, twisting slightly as you wrap, then slip your thumb out of the roll, loop the strand around one last time then tuck the end and your thumb loop into the bottom. If you're having trouble, please re-watch the GIF above. Repeat with all strands.
- Place buns on your prelined baking sheets, (giving enough room for dough to rise and spread during proofing and baking), cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for about 30 minutes.
- While proofing, preheat oven to 435°F (at least 30 minutes before baking)
- While rolls are proofing, heat water, light brown sugar, and vanilla bean paste in a small saucepan on high until sugar has dissolved completely. Set syrup aside. Combine fresh ground/crushed cardamom seeds (see #3 in dough instructions on how to grind/crush) and granulated sugar in a small bowl.
- Bake proofed rolls for 7-8 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
- Immediately brush tops with syrup and sprinkle with cardamom-sugar.
- Serve and enjoy!!