Soft, exotic, sweet but not too sweet, cardamom, cinnamon and saffron buns are a Christmas tradition in Sweden, eaten with a cup of coffee for ‘fika’ (coffee time). You might think it odd that the Swedish use eastern spices in their baking… but it’s a legacy of their seafaring adventures from the Vikings onwards. This recipe is a fully cardamom version of a recipe from a Gothenburg all female bakery, Alvar and Ivar; I have their recipe for spelt, cinnamon and cardamom buns in my book MsMarmitelover’s Secret Tea Party.
Ex-Monty Python and Fawlty Towers genius John Cleese liked my instagram of these cardamom buns and posted it on his facebook page which got almost 3k likes. Who knew he was into Swedish buns?
Swedish Cardamom buns recipe
Makes approximately 10 to 12 buns
For the dough:
The seeds of 35 cardamom pods, crushed into powder
250ml of lukewarm whole milk
50g butter (unsalted)
7g fast acting yeast
75g caster sugar
400g of plain white flour
1/2 tsp of vanilla paste
1/2 tsp of sea salt or vanilla salt
For the filling:
150g salted butter
50g caster sugar
1 egg, whisked with a little milk
100g nibbed sugar
First of all split the cardamom pods and crush the seeds inside using a pestle and mortar. In Sweden you can buy these ready seeded but it’s more difficult in other countries.
Melt the butter, the milk and the yeast in a heatproof jug, make sure you don’t overheat because you will kill the yeast. Just lukewarm is fine.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, mix the sugar, flour, vanilla paste and salt, then add the warm milk/yeast/butter mixture. Add half of the ground cardamom seeds to the dough.
Knead until you form a dough or mix with the dough hook in the stand mixer for ten minutes. This is a very soft dough.Then cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave to rise for one hour.
In the meantime make the filling by making a paste by mixing the butter, caster sugar and the rest of the cardamom powder. Set aside.
Prepare a flat baking tray with a silpat or parchment paper.
Flour a clean surface and roll out the dough, very gently, taking care not to knock all the air out of it, making a large rectangle.
Carefully, with a rubber spatula, spread the buttery cardamomy filling all over the rectangle.
Then fold over the rectangular in half, pulling the long edge over to the other long edge.
Using a knife or dough cutter, cut the dough into 2 cms lengths, starting from the short edge and going all along until you get to the other short edge.
Twist the dough strips then coil them into snail-like buns. Place the buns, not touching each other, onto the prepared baking tray.
Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for another hour.
Preheat your oven to 200ºc.
When risen, using a pastry brush, brush the egg glaze mixture gently all over the buns then scatter the nibbed sugar over the top.
Bake for 4 to 5 minutes until golden. Serve warm with coffee or you can let them cool then toss them in a plastic bag and freeze. They reheat well.