Cardamom buns, a Swedish treat worth mastering
Ruth Raich has fond memories of childhood visits to Sweden, helping her grandmother with kardemummabullar.
What the English-speaking world calls the cardamom bun is a central part of fika, the civilized Swedish practice of a coffee and snack break.
What a treat! The cardamom buns are tender but chewy, slightly sweet and tangy with an invigorating burst of cardamom. Just looking at these sculpted beauties, their glistening sugar tops, instantly invokes temptation.
Beginning in the late 1980s, Raich’s version of the classic kardemummabullar became a hallmark with each incarnation of his popular bakery-centric businesses.
Although her Jenny Lind cafe in Stockholm, Wisconsin, and her Smokey Row cafe in Red Wing are Raich’s past, she continues – thankfully – to produce cardamom rolls, baking batches several days a week in the cozy Wholesale bakery Jenny Lind who she built inside a converted chicken coop on the farm near Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, which she shares with his wife.
My husband Robert first encountered Raich’s Cardamom Rolls in the 1990s and has been craving it ever since. (Call them “buns” or “buns”, the meaning is the same; Raich invokes the first.) He introduced me to their splendors over 20 years ago, and I was hooked as well.
Several months ago, I came across a copy of Raich’s 2014 cookbook, “Favorite Recipes of the Jenny Lind Bakery & Cafe,” and was delighted to find that it included a recipe for his little ones. signature breads.
My first attempts – harsh, bland, unsightly, sometimes all three – were pale imitations of Raich’s work. What was I doing wrong? My late grandmother Hedvig, the daughter of Swedish farmers, could do magic with flour and yeast, so you would think baking DNA could be involved. No.
I called Raich and invited myself to his workplace for a tutorial. Observing this baker in her native habitat was a study in the economics of movement. Years of routine means Raich can seamlessly and simultaneously bake scones, cookies, and three variations of sweet fist-sized buns: Almond, Cinnamon, and Cardamom, all while training a hobbyist. on the ins and outs of handling egg-rich yeast dough.
After this invaluable lesson, my next few bundles, while not identical to Raich’s expert production, were reasonable facsimiles. My kneading skills are hardly intuitive, and I don’t have his practiced panache when it comes to twisting the dough into beautifully layered buns. But I am determined to make it happen.
Thanks to Raich’s skill and generosity, my New Years 2022 resolution is to bake more cardamom buns. You should too. The recipe might seem daunting, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy – honest – and well worth the effort.
Troubleshooting: “When it comes to making cardamom rolls, people typically run into three problems,” Raich said. “They didn’t knead long enough, so there isn’t enough protein structure to let the dough rise. Or they added too much flour. Or the liquid was too hot and it killed the yeast. “
Kneading, part 1: “When people knead by hand, they get tired,” she says. “It’s always going to be more than you think, especially for newbie bakers, and so I always tell people when you want to quit, keep going for two to five minutes longer.”
Knead, part 2: Yet Raich advises using a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook. “It keeps you from adding too much flour,” she said. In her bakery, in the gigantic Hobart 30 quart blender that she calls “Francine”, Raich kneads the dough, at medium speed, for 3 minutes. “But household mixers have less powerful motors, so they should knead for longer,” she said, which explains the recipe’s extended kneading time. When ready, the dough should be smooth but stick slightly to the bottom of the bowl.
Reheating: For the first proof, consider placing the covered bowl in an unheated gas oven. “The oven pilot will keep it warm enough,” she said. For the second proof, place the baking sheets near a heater, or on tables or counters bathed in sunlight.
Air drying: if the dough is too wet and sticky after the first proof, Raich scrapes it off on a lightly floured work surface and lets the dough rest in the open air, without touching it, for about 15 to 20 minutes , then spread it out.
Handwork: When spreading butter on the rolled dough, Raich uses her hands rather than a spatula. Also avoid melted butter. “It’s easier to keep it on the dough if the butter is soft – at room temperature – rather than if it’s melted,” she said.
Flavor Booster: Raich grinds whole cardamom seeds, and there’s a big reason: the flavor is more robust than using packaged ground cardamom. And there is a caveat: “Cardamom seeds are tough on crushers,” she said. A mortar and pestle also work.
Tactile test: For those who don’t have an instant-read thermometer, trust your senses. “The liquid should be hot in the bottle,” she said. “It’s body temperature.”
Egg wash: Do not skip this step. “It keeps the roller from drying out and it gives them color,” she said. Use milk and the result will be a soft brown roll. Use water and the top will be crisp but not brown. Use egg wash, and the roll will be brown and delicately crisp on top.
Tutorial Twist: Raich has a helpful YouTube video where she demonstrates her technique for twisting dough into a spiral into shapely buns, and it’s worth watching. Find it on youtu.be/RCNht2N_47Q.
SMALL CARDAMOM BREAD
Makes: 1 dozen buns.
Note: This dough must be prepared in advance. Adapted from “Favorite Bakery and Cafe Recipes Jenny Lind”, by Ruth Raich ($ 22).
For the dough
6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more (at room temperature) to grease the bowl
1 1/4 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. whole milk
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. instant dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp. salt
5 ch. flour, and more for rolling the dough
3/4 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
2 tbsp. ground cardamom
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. the water
Shortbread sugar or pearl sugar
To prepare the dough: Grease a large bowl with room temperature butter and set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the cooled melted butter, milk and three beaten eggs, and heat in the microwave, in 30 second increments, until the mixture reaches 100 degrees on a thermometer. instant read (not to exceed 100 degrees).
Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a bread hook. Add 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of the sugar, baking powder and salt, and mix on medium speed until blended. Reduce speed to low, add 4 3/4 cups flour and mix until flour is incorporated into liquid and dough comes together, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the dough is shiny and elastic and forms a ball but still sticks lightly to the bottom of the bowl (add more flour if necessary, 1 tbsp at a time, until 1 / 4 cup remaining; be careful not to add too much flour), about 5-6 minutes.
(Alternatively, in a large bowl, combine the butter and milk mixture with 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of sugar, baking powder and salt, and stir to combine. Add 4 3/4 cups of flour and stir vigorously until well combined. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Scrape the dough onto the prepared work surface. Using lightly floured hands, knead into an elastic and smooth dough – not too dry, with good elasticity – about 10-12 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, lightly add more flour as needed, 1 tbsp at a time, until 1/4 cup remains; be careful not to add too much flour.)
Scrape the dough into the prepared bowl, cover with a cotton cloth, place in a warm place (about 80 degrees) and let rise until almost doubled, about 60 minutes.
To prepare the filling: In a small bowl, combine 3/4 cup of the sugar, cinnamon and cardamom. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Lightly flour a clean work surface. Using a spatula or scraper, transfer the dough to the prepared work surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough – in short, quick, and even strokes – into a 20 x 24 inch rectangle about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Be sure to keep adding flour lightly as needed on the work surface, to prevent the dough from sticking.
Spread the surface of the dough with 4 tablespoons of room temperature butter, working to the edges. Sprinkle the cardamom-cinnamon mixture evenly over the butter, dusting to the edges. Starting at the 20-inch side of the rectangle, roll the dough comfortably into a log, leaving the log seam down on the work surface.
Using a sharp knife, cut off the uneven ends, then cut the log crosswise into 12 buns about 1 1/2 inches wide. Pick up each bun, with one thumb grabbing the top of the dough and the other grabbing the bottom. Gently do two full turns with your hands in opposite directions, pulling lightly on the dough as you turn. After turning the bun in your hands, tuck one end of the bun under the other end, forming a ball. Place twisted buns 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
Loosely cover the buns with a cotton towel, place them in a warm place (around 80 degrees) and let the buns rise until puffed, about 30-45 minutes.
To prepare the filling: When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk an egg with 1 tablespoon of water. Brush the brioches with gilding, then sprinkle with icing sugar or pearl sugar. Bake until golden brown (but not too dark or the buns will be dry), about 18 to 20 minutes, turning the trays halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven. Serve hot or at room temperature.
To make ahead: After the dough is twisted into buns, uncooked buns can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. When ready to bake, place buns 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover loosely with a cotton towel, place in a warm spot (about 80 degrees) and let the buns rise until puffed, about 60 to 75 minutes. Brush with gold, garnish with decorative sugar and bake as directed.