lena miller cardamon bun print (2 of 5)

The Mad Agriculture Journal

Published on

June 19, 2023

Written by

Lena Miller

Photos by

Emma Hampsten

This recipe is based on the Swedish Kardemummabullar. I first made them some years ago, when I was baking daily and in a big cardamom phase—well, I think I’ll always be in a cardamom phase. But, this past winter I fell back in love with them and have been making this recipe on repeat. The usual recipes call for making several small buns. However, this recipe is based on the Giant Cardamom Bun recipe written by Kelly Janke for Bon Appetit. One giant bun is simply irresistible. Presenting it feels equally ceremonious to cutting into a birthday cake. It’s a showstopper.

The original recipe calls for letting the dough rise for a few hours before baking, but I wanted to have the dough nearly ready to be baked in the morning. So here, I recommend mixing and shaping the bun the night before you want to bake it, letting it rise in the fridge overnight, and then baking it in the morning. You can plan a brunch around it! Or bring it into work and be that coworker.

If you’re a die-hard cardamom fan, go full cardamom. I recommend buying Green Cardamom, in pods, hulling them yourself, and grinding them just before use. You’ll get big flavor that way. If you’re local to Boulder, you can find the pods at Savory Spice Shop. I cut the cardamom in the topping with some cinnamon because too much cardamom can start to taste soapy. Cardamom buns are best  fresh out of the oven. In fact, they are irresistible. If you have any leftovers, I recommend reheating slices on a skillet with a little butter. I’ve experimented with substituting up to 25% whole wheat flour in this recipe (and a little extra milk, because whole wheat tends to want more moisture), and you should too if that’s your thing. If you want to try milling your flour at home, learn more on page 54!

lena miller cardamon bun print (4 of 5) 1688057960

The dough:

4 tbsp. Granulated sugar

1 tsp. Active dry yeast

¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. Whole milk

1 Egg, room temperature

6 tbsp. Unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces

1 ½ tsp. Kosher salt

2 tsp. Fresh ground cardamom

375 g (about 3 cups) All-Purpose flour (try milling your flour at home! Pg 54)

The filling and topping:

1/3 cup Granulated sugar

2 tsp. Fresh ground cardamom

3 tsp. Ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. Kosher salt

3 tbsp. Butter, melted and cooled 

1 Egg, whisked

lena miller cardamon bun print (3 of 5)

Making the dough:

1.”Bloom” the yeast by combining 1 tbsp. sugar, yeast, and warm milk (~95˚). It’s ready when it’s bubbling and foamy. If it doesn’t bubble after 10 minutes, check your yeast’s expiration date or try again. 

2. Whisk together the milk and yeast mixture with the egg and remaining 3 tbsp. sugar.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the salt, cardamom, and flour.

4. Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. When it starts to get quite clumpy, add the butter pieces and continue mixing until the butter is evenly distributed.

5. Using your hands, dump the dough mix onto a clean surface and begin to knead the dough into a cohesive ball. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes. If you live in a dry area like I do here in Colorado, you can cover it with an upturned bowl, a damp towel, or plastic so it doesn’t form a skin. 

6. Uncover the dough and begin to knead it until a smooth ball forms, about 12 minutes. If it starts to get sticky, flour your hands and the surface. Resist the urge to add too much flour. As you keep kneading, the dough will become stronger and less sticky. 

7. Lightly oil a clean bowl and place your smooth dough ball into the bowl, cover it in plastic, and let it chill in the fridge for 2 hours. It won’t rise much. 

Assembling the bun:

8. Take your dough from the fridge. Lightly flour a clean work surface. Remove plastic cover, dump the dough out and begin to roll it out to a large rectangle (11”x15”) using a rolling pin. Check regularly to make sure the dough is not sticking to the work surface. If it is, add a bit of flour to the sticky parts.

9. Using a pastry brush, brush the whole surface with your melted and slightly cooled butter, leaving a ½ inch border, unbuttered. 

10. Whisk together your ⅓ cup sugar, cinnamon, and cardamom in a bowl and sprinkle about ⅔ of the mixture evenly over the dough, still leaving a ½ inch border. 

11. Prepare a sheet tray with parchment paper.

12. With the long end of the rectangle facing you, begin rolling the dough up like a log, making sure it’s nice and tight as you roll. Once you’ve rolled it all the way up, pinch the dough all along the seam to prevent it from unrolling. Transfer the log to the sheet tray, with the seam side down. Put the tray in the fridge so the log can cool for 20 minutes. The dough being cold will help immensely with the next step. 

13. Remove the log from the fridge, and gently transfer it from the sheet tray to a cutting board. But keep the sheet tray nearby. Using a long and sharp knife, make one long cut along the length of the log. It will open and reveal all of its beautiful cardamom-y layers. Now you have two long pieces. With the cut-side up, cross one piece over the other in the center to create an X shape. Then, working on one side of the X, continue to cross the pieces over each other, then do the same on the other side, creating one long twist. Bring the ends together to create a circle. Fold and pinch one end over the other to seal the circle. Gently transfer the dough back onto your sheet tray.

12. Add a drop or two of water to your whisked egg and using a pastry brush, brush the whole bun with a thin coating of egg. Save any leftover egg wash for baking the next morning—we’re going to give it a double egg-wash which should make for an extra golden bun at the end. Cover the dough in plastic and let it rest in the fridge overnight. If you’re making this same-day, leave the dough at room temperature and let rise for about 2 hours or until it’s grown by half its size. Gently remove the plastic, it may stick a bit.

lena miller cardamon bun print (1 of 5)

Baking the bun:

13. In the morning, remove your dough from the fridge and let it come to room temperature for 45 minutes or so. Preheat your oven to 450˚ in this time. 

14. Gently remove the plastic covering. Using your remaining egg wash and a pastry brush, brush the whole bun again. Sprinkle remaining ⅓ of the sugar, cinnamon, cardamom mixture over the entire bun. 

15. Place the bun in the oven, on the middle rack, for 8 minutes. Then, lower the oven temp to 375˚ and rotate the sheet tray 180 degrees. Continue to bake the buns for another 20-25 minutes or until the top of the bun is a lovely deep golden hue. If you think the bun is browning too quickly, you can cover the top loosely in foil and continue baking. 

16. Remove the bun from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. 

Originally published in
Mad Agriculture Journal Issue 9


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