I’m almost certain that homemade bread is good for the soul. The process of making the dough, the smell as it bakes and that first taste when it’s fresh from oven – it really does make me feel good. I love making a batch of something like this to indulge in over long weekend breakfasts.
I know that cardamom buns are a speciality in Sweden, particularly for fika (that’s a coffee break to you and I) but the only place I’ve ever actually tried one was in London so I’m not even going to pretend that these are in any way authentic. In fact they’re so in-authentic that I’ve adapted my recipe for coconut buns, which uses a tang zhong (roux) in the dough, but they are incredibly delicious! It’s the roux that makes these buns so deliciously soft and moist. Make it by simply combining 25g of bread flour with 100ml of water in a pan and cooking it until it becomes nice and thick. Leave it to cool before incorporating it into the dough mixture.
400g strong white bread flour
big pinch of salt
2 tsp instant yeast (1 sachet)
70ml warm milk
70ml warm water
40g butter (melted)
100g softened butter
25-30 green cardamom pods
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
pearl sugar to finish (optional)
Sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the salt, sugar and yeast. In a separate jug whisk together the melted butter, milk, water, egg and the cooled roux. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid mixture. Combine to form a soft dough and knead until it is smooth and springy. You can do this either by hand or with an electric mixer but to be honest the dough is so nice to work with that it’s very therapeutic to do it by hand.
Wash and dry the bowl to make it lovely and warm and then lightly oil it (use something flavourless.) Wipe a large piece of cling-film around the bowl to oil that too. Pop the dough into the bowl and loosely cover it with the cling-film and then leave it somewhere draught-free to rise until it has doubled in size, this should take about an hour.
Whilst the dough is doing its thing you can make the filling. Use a pestle and mortar to crack open the cardamom pods, remove the black seeds and discard the husks. Crush the seeds and coarsely grind them. Cream together the butter, sugar and spice to make a nice soft paste. Take the dough out of the bowl and pop it on a lightly floured surface. Give it a quick knead to knock some of the air out of it. Divide it into two even pieces. Roll each one out into a rectangle, about 14″x 10″. With the long edge facing you spread the filling over the lower half of each piece of dough before folding the top down to cover it. Press the edges to seal it and give it another quick roll. Cut each rectangle into six even pieces, slicing from top to bottom, then take each piece and cut it in half vertically stopping just short of the top so that the two strips remain joined. Twist the strips around each other and then into a knot, tucking the ends underneath. Place them on a lightly greased baking tray, spacing them well apart. I used two trays and put six on each. Lightly cover the buns and leave them to rise again for another hour.
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c. Once the buns have puffed up and risen, uncover them and brush them with a little milk before sprinkling on some pearled sugar (or Demerara) and bake them for 20-25 minutes, until they have a soft crust and are golden brown.