Extra time:1hr30min rising ›
- Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature.
- Before mixing the ingredients you will need to proof the fresh yeast. Heat the 500ml milk in a saucepan or in the microwave until it is approximately 37 C (98.5 F). The temperature is important, if the milk is too hot, the yeast will burn. If the milk is too cool, the yeast will not activate (if you do not have a cooking thermometer you can use a medical one – just don’t tell anyone). When the milk is approximately 37 C, sprinkle 50g fresh yeast and add 90g of the caster sugar. Stir well until dissolved, then set aside for 5 minutes.
- While waiting for the yeast to activate, mix 150g soft butter, 2 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom and 1/2 teaspoon salt until smooth in a large bowl. After the yeast has activated, add the milk solution to the butter mixture.
- Gradually add the flour, then knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl with a cloth.
- Place in the warmed oven. This is not to start the baking, but to help the dough rise. Leave to rise for about 45 to 60 minutes, until doubled in size. Remove from the oven.
- Meanwhile, mix the remainder of the butter and sugar, then add 1 1/2 tablespoons cardamom, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon and the vanilla extract for the filling. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 250 C / Gas 9. Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- When the dough is ready, roll it out into a large rectangle, about 40x50cm. Spread the filling on top.
- Fold the dough in half (you should have half of it layered on top of the other half).
- Cut out long strips of dough (about 1 to 2 cm wide).
- Properly spinning a cardamom bun into a knotty shape is an art. To begin with, you can just twist each strip and then roll it.
- Arrange the buns on the prepared baking tray. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise for 30 minutes.
- Brush the buns with a lightly beaten egg (the more egg you use, the browner the buns will be after baking). However, this is not an essential step, skipping it will make your buns egg-free.
- Sprinkle the buns generously with pearl sugar, granulated sugar or chopped almonds and the remaining cardamom and cinnamon.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 11 minutes, depending on the size of the buns, until risen and golden brown. Remove from the oven. The buns are at their best when they are warm. Enjoy!
In Britain, cardamom is more often associated with curries than with sweet pastries; cardamom pods are the big green pods in Pilau rice. For this recipe you will need the dark brown seeds inside the pods. Although supermarkets generally sell the green pods, rather than the seeds, the seeds are easily available online, including via Amazon. For this recipe, it is important to ground the seeds immediately before use, to keep their flavour and smell.
This recipe is based on the one by Linda Lomelino of the wonderful (and highly recommended) Swedish blog Call Me Cupcake, with some personal tweaks. Even if you have never used cardamom or fresh yeast in your baking before, it is really worth sticking to the Swedish recipe and giving it a try, as these are the two ingredients that give the buns their fragrant, aromatic flavour.
Using live active yeast
Fresh yeast is easily available online, in most whole food shops or from real bakeries. If the yeast is alive and active, in step 1 it will release in the water and feed on the sugar. After a while, you should see a bubbly foam forming on the surface - carbon dioxide being released (see photo 1). This is proof that the yeast is active. If after 5 minutes you cannot see any bubbles, unfortunately your yeast is not working. You need to throw the milk solution away and start again. It is annoying, but it’s better starting again now than seeing your buns lying flat in the oven!
See it on my blog
Watkins & George