One of the things that we’d wished we would have been able to bring back with us from Sweden was a basket of freshly baked Kardamummbular, the cardamom buns we’d fallen in love with during our stay.
But as it turns out, we may have been gifted a better alternative: Aron’s mother, Christine, kindly did some recipe-testing and, after a few trials, shared with us the secret to making them at home.
If you haven’t tried them before, they’re a wonderful alternative to the very sweet cinnamon rolls we’re more accustomed to: the cardamom is very fragrant and complex, the sweet is balanced, and the dough is both soft and crisp. They also tend to be smaller—just right for an afternoon coffee break or Fika.
When we were looking for a recipe to start from, I sent Christine a beautiful one by Alana of Fix Feast Flair, which Alana had adapted from Kokblog. Be sure to have a look at Anna’s recipe: the step-by-step images are gorgeous, and she has a wonderful GIF of her knotting the buns.
I’ve transcribed the recipe with Christine’s modifications below.
SWEDISH CARDAMOM BUNS
(Adapted from Fix Feast Flair)
For the dough
1 cup + 1 Tbsp. room-temperature milk
1 envelope or 1 Tbsp. dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
3 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more to flour surfaces (Note: humidity can vary the amount needed; use more if dough is too sticky)
1 tsp. whole cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. butter (at room temperature)
Oil/cooking spray (to grease bowl)
For the filling
4 Tbsp. butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. whole cardamom seeds
For the topping
2-3 Tbsp. water (just enough to dissolve sugar)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla bean paste, or a couple of drops of pure vanilla extract
1-2 Tbsp. large-crystal granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. whole cardamom seeds
Measuring cups & spoons
Sharp knife or pastry wheel (w/straight blade)
Baking sheets lined with parchment or silpat mats
Note on sourcing cardamom seeds: If your grocery only carries the green cardamom pods or does not carry the seeds at a reasonable price, it may be worth ordering some online. De-seeding the pods can be quite tedious. These were very good and came with an expiration date.
To make the dough
Pregrease/oil a large bowl and set aside.
In the stand-mixer bowl, add yeast to the milk with 1 tsp. sugar and stir until yeast has dissolved. Let activate for 10 minutes.
After yeast has been activated, add flour, cardamom, and salt to your yeast/milk mixture and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low until dough begins to come together. Increase speed to medium-low and add cubed butter, a few at a time. Once all the butter has been added, increase speed to medium/medium-high and knead for about 5 minutes.Take care not to 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 plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm place and let it rise for at least 40 minutes.
To make the filling
Combine butter, brown sugar, and cardamom seeds, and mix together—by hand or on medium-low speed with the stand-mixer—until creamy and smooth.
To form the buns
Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat mats and set aside.
Roll dough into a 13” x 21” rectangle on a lightly floured surface.
Mark 7″ sections on the 21″ side with the back of a knife so that you have three equal sections.
Spread filling onto the first two-thirds of the rolled-out-dough rectangle with a spatula.
Using the same technique as one might when making puff-pastry, fold the unbuttered third over half of the buttered two-thirds and then bring the remaining third over on top. (Here’s a diagram.)
Turn the dough so that the openings are on the left and right sides and roll out the dough slightly.And, using your ruler and a sharp knife or pastry wheel, cut scant 1-inch strands. You should have 15-20 strands.
To knot: 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, don’t fret! You can watch a GIF here for the technique described above, but essentially you’re just tying a sewing knot. Wrap it around your fingers a few times and then tuck the ends under and you’ll be fine.
Place buns on your pre-lined 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 430°F (at least 30 minutes before baking).
To make the topping
While rolls are proofing, dissolve sugar and vanilla in a few tablespoons of water and set the syrup aside. Combine cardamom seeds and granulated sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Bake proofed rolls for 10 minutes or until tops are golden brown.
From the oven, immediately brush tops with syrup and sprinkle liberally with cardamom-sugar topping.
Share and enjoy!
Tremendous thanks to Christine Bruhn for helping us get to enjoy these again—fresh! You can read some food-safety tips from Dr. Bruhn as well.
P.S. October 4th is Kanelbullensdag, Cinnamon Roll day, in Sweden. Cinnamon and Cardamom buns are served side by side in all of the bakeries, so I think this would be an appropriate way to celebrate next week! Also, our travelogue from Stockholm.