Traditional Swedish "kardemummabullar"
The kardemummabulle (Swedish cardamom buns) is as important to Swedes as the kanelbulle (Swedish cinnamon bun). All Swedes eat cake and drink coffee or tea. The event of doing this is called “fika”, and is done at least once a day. If you’re lucky, you might be invited to fika at someone’s home. If you’re even luckier, they’ve baked cakes and buns themselves. And if you’re extremely lucky, those baked goods aren’t dry and nasty. Because that’s common among home bakers, dry and nasty baked goods. This recipe is for perfect cardamom buns. By perfect, I mean they are in no way dry or tough, they are soft and perfect. As a matter of fact, you can ignore all other recipes for cardamom buns on the Internet. There’s no point in looking at anything but the best, it’s a waste of time.
Prepare the Swedish cardamom buns filling
Let’s start with the filling. You’ll need it later.
- 20 g (2 tbsp) finely ground cardamom
- 200 g (2 1/4 dl) sugar
- 200g unsalted butter
- Leave the butter in room temperature for a couple of hours, until it’s all soft.
- Mix sugar and finely ground cardamom into the butter until it’s a uniform paste.
- Now leave it in room temperature while you make the rest, you’ll need the smooth soft paste soon.
The dry sugar and cardamom mix
- 2 grams of whole cardamom seeds (peeled)
- 20 grams of sugar
- Ground the cardamom seeds coarsely. Don’t make a powder of it, just crush them into tiny peaces.
- Mix with sugar. Done, you’ll use it later.
The syrup for glazing
- 75 g water (3/4 dl)
- 75 g sugar (3/4 dl)
- 1 vanilla pod
- Cut the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Put it all, pod and seeds, into a saucepan.
- Water and sugar.
- Bring to a boil while mixing, and then let it simmer for 20 minutes.
- Turn of the heat, and let it cool. Then remove the pods and you have a nice liquid vanilla syrup. Don’t worry about it being watery in its consistency, it’s supposed to be like that.
The Swedish cardamom buns dough
You won’t be kneading the dough. It will be elastic and nice and perfect anyway thanks to the laws of physics. Please get yourself a scale, they’re cheap and make things both easier and better when it comes to cooking. I’ve written down estimates of volume, but I can not guarantee the amazingness if you choose to use those measurements instead of the weight.
Ingredients for the dough
- 10 g of finely ground cardamom (about 1 tbsp)
- 150g of butter (about 2/3 dl)
- 25 g of fresh yeast (that’s about a tbsp of fresh yeast of half a package of dry yeast, are we really doing this?)
- 250 g of cold milk (2.5 dl)
- 250 g of cold water (2.5 dl)
- 150 g granulated sugar (1.5 dl)
- 6 g salt (1 teaspoon)
- 850-900 grams of fine wheat flour (about 14-15 dl)
Instructions to make the dough
Making the dough
1. Mix everything in a large bowl except the flour. Make sure the yeast is dissolved. And for the butter, use a Swedish cheese grater or a mandolin to slice it thinly. It will make it possible to mix into a fine batter like dough.
2. Add half of the flour and mix until you have a very liquid batter. Then keep adding flour until it comes together like a very wet dough. You do not want a too dry dough!*
3. Let the dough rest for one and a half hours at room temperature. The very wet dough will come together in that time, and be all soft and stretchy.
4. Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a smooth bun, tuck the edges toward the center and turn it so that the seam is pointing downward. The principle is the same as when forming a round bread. Take a spatula to help if needed. Sprinkle with flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 1 1/2 hours at room temperature or up to 10 hours in the refrigerator.
Filling the dough
5. Now that the dough has at least doubled in size, put it on a floured surface (again) and roll it out using a rolling pin. Make it into a rectangle, about 40×70 cm. That means it will be about 2/3 cm in thickness.**
6. Smear the filling (the one you made earlier) all over it, all the way to the edges.
7. Grab the short edge of the dough and fold it 1/3. If you refuse to watch the video, I’ll try to explain… So when you’ve folded it, you’ll see half of the dough with the non-filled side up and half of it with the filled side facing up. Now grab the edge of the filled side and fold it over the unfilled side facing up. Now all the filling is facing inwards.
8. Turn the dough and lightly roll it out flat with the filling still inside.
9. Cut stripes along the short side of the rectangle. About 2-3 cm in width. Make sure every stripe weights the same. 50-75 grams per bun depending on how big buns you want. Now twist these strips by placing them on a table and roll each end in opposite directions. Then, gently shape the twisted stripe into a bun, onto a baking sheet. It’s much easier if you just watch the video, I’ve told you this already!
10. Sprinkle each bun with the dry sugar and cardamom mix.
11. Cover the buns with plastic wrap and let them sit in room temperature until they double in size.
12. Heat the oven to 250°C.***
13. Put the buns into the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to overbake them. When the buns are light brown in color, mostly pale, they’re done. Remove them.
14. Use a brush or a piece of kitchen paper to smear your vanilla syrup all over the buns. Do this just as they come out of the oven, still flaming hot!
15. Let the buns rest for a while. The syrup will give them a nice shiny texture and additional flavor.
* 850 grams should be enough, only add more if it is very apparent that the dough is too liquid. See video!
** If your rectangle looks too much like an oval, you can trim the edges somewhat with a knife to make them straight.
*** Heat it well ahead of time, so that every part of the oven is hot. That way it won’t drop in temperature that much as soon as you open it up to put in the buns.