I love cardamom: nothing against cinnamon or nutmeg here, but cardamom is just unusual enough that using it in a dessert makes it somehow more special, more of the “event” that desserts should always be. Perhaps it’s in the blood: we three clever sisters have a bit of Finnish ancestry, after all.
The author of Falling Cloudberries, Tessa Kiros has more than a bit: Her mother is Finnish, her father Cypriot. She grew up in South Africa, and now makes her home in Italy. Her collection of family recipes, therefore, is both a virtual travelogue and an intriguing international cookbook. I’ve had this book for a while, and have long loved looking through its dreamy pictures, but until now that’s as far as it had gone. (I have a bit of a cookbook problem, as we know). But I finally corrected this, with Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns as the obvious choice to inaugurate things.
Besides being simply delicious, these rolls have the great virtue of looking much harder to make than they actually are. (Yes, I will admit to saying that). Don’t be afraid of the fact that you have to wield a rolling pin; you don’t even have to be all that good with it.
As you might expect, after making the dough and letting it rise (I left mine overnight in the fridge), you roll it out flat and sprinkle on the cinnamon. Don’t worry about running out; I had extra. To get it nicely distributed, hold some sugar mix a fist, slightly open, and flick the mixture on the dough with a snappy wrist action; it seems to distribute better that way but you’ll figure out what method works for you as you assemble them.
Roll your cinnamon-dusted dough up (you’ve added the cardamom to the dough itself) and here’s the trick: you cut your log into wedges or “v” shapes rather than fat discs (like you might for a regular cinnamon bun or an icebox cookie). You then sit them on their widest, fattest edge (the bottom the triangle you have created, with the point sticking up like a little christmas tree). Place your finger on the top, the point, and use your finger to SMUSH that point down into the base of the roll. Because the dough will be strong from kneading it will not fall apart and in fact will resist slightly while holding its shape, giving you a pan full of these beauties, ready for their final rise:
These rise rather quickly–though it’s hard to see, you’ll know they are ready when the sharp edges soften as the dough puffs up. Then into the oven. Thanksfully, the bake quickly too, being so petite, and you can enjoy them almost immediately. The author notes that these buns freeze beautifully: while I don’t have any reason to doubt her, you know what I’m going to say next: we didn’t have any left over to test that theory!
I made a few modifications to the recipe–the recipe calls for one ounce of fresh yeast, which I haven’t managed to find. In any case, I wanted to use my special yeast for sweet doughs (like I used in my Pan de Muerto) and settled on a conversion of 2.75 teaspooons of instant to correspond to one ounce fresh. It rose rather nicely, so seems I got the proportions right; or right enough. I also used only 22.5 ounces of flour (the recipe called for 5 1/4 c flour, which per my normal conversion of 4.5 ounces to a cup would have required a bit more). I think this amount of flour was just right: The dough was quite firm and well-developed.
Another hint is to let the dough relax a bit before rolling it out. Since you make four separate logs that you cut up per the method described above, what I did was flatten each quarter out into a square after I divided the dough, let rest a few minutes, and then start rolling out each piece of dough. Each log is successively easier–probably as much from getting in the swing of things as from the dough relaxing a bit.
Here’s the recipe, with my modifications:
Cinnamon & Cardamom Buns adapted from Falling Cloudberries by Tessa Kiros
- 1c cold milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 3/4 t instant yeast (or 4t active dry)
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 4 1/2 oz (1 stick + 1 T) softened butter
- 2 t ground cardamom
- 1 t salt
- 22.5 ounces (5 cups) all-purpose flour
- 2 t cinnamom
- 1/4c + 1T sugar
- 5 T softened butter
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
Mix the milk, sugar, egg, butter, cardamom, yeast and salt. Add the flour, bit by bit, mixing it in with a wooden spoon until you need to use your hands, and then turn it out onto the work surface to knead. It may seem a little too sticky initially, but will become compact and beautifully soft after about 5 minutes. Alternately, knead in a stand mixer on medium low speed for 5 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and then a heavy towel or blanket, and leave in a warm place for about 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size; or allow to rise overnight in the refrigerator.
To make the cinnamon butter, mix together the cinnamon and sugar. Divide the butter into four portions and keep on one side.
Put the dough on a floured work surface and divide it into four portions. Begin with one portion, covering the others with a cloth so they don’t dry out. Using a rolling pin, roll out a rectangle, roughly about 12 x 10 inches and 1/8 inch thick. Spread one portion of butter over the surface of the dough with butter knife. Sprinkle with about 3 teaspoons of the cinnamon mix, covering the whole surface with quick shaking movements of your wrists. Roll up to make a long dough sausage. Set aside while you finish rolling out and buttering the rest of the dough, so that you can cut them all together.
Line two large baking trays with baking paper, or bake in two lots if you only have one tray. Line up the dough sausages in front of you and cut them slightly on the diagonal, alternating up and down, so that the slices are fat ‘v’ shapes, with the point of the ‘v’ about 3/4 inch and the base about 2 inches. Turn them so they are all the right way up, sitting on their fatter bases. Press down on the top of each one with two fingers until you think you will almost go through to your work surface. Along the sides you will see the cinnamon stripes oozing outwards. Put the buns on the baking trays, leaving space for them to puff and rise while they bake. Brush lightly with beaten egg and sprinkle a little sugar over the top.
Leave the buns to rise for half an hour and preheat your oven to 350F. Bake them for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden. Check that they are lightly golden underneath as well before you take them out of the oven. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature and, when they are cool, keep them in an airtight container so they don’t harden.
Makes about 35 buns.