I’m always experimenting with different recipes for cardamom buns, because well… I’m sorta obsessed with them. I can’t think of anything equivalent in the baking world in any other country that is so simple, versatile and satisfying. If it were up to me, I’d eat them every day, but since I still want to fit into my clothes, I restrain myself to just a few times a year.
As we’re headed into the holidays, these buns can be enjoyed during a decadent breakfast, either with just some butter and strawberry jam, or savory options such as (vegan) cold cuts and cheese, bean spreads, sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers, and so forth. You can make them into a delicious dessert, by filling them with cream and jam, or a vanilla or chocolate custard. You get the point.
Why cardamom in these buns you might ask, and why is this spice so popular in Norwegian baking? We even have a “city” named after it, Kardemommeby, (cardmom town) located in a theme park in Kristiansand. This town was designed inspired by a popular story called “When The Robbers Came to Cardamom Town”, created by famous Norwegian children’s book author, Thorbjørn Egner in 1955. Cardamom is used in many baked goods, and is one of the basic staples in every Norwegian household, especially for Christmas.
The spices of the far East have influenced Norwegian Christmas food for several hundred years. Along with cardamom, we use ginger, cloves and cinnamon generously. They arrived to Norway, as they did in the rest of Europe, through the spice trail via the sea, and quickly became popular. While most cuisines might use these in mostly savory dishes, Norwegians (and the rest of the Scandinavians) also found a way to employ them in pastries and sweet foods.
Back to my cardamom buns: This time I tried a slightly different recipe yet again, and I have to say I was incredibly happy with the results. The dough was smooth, light and really easy to work with, and the recipe also doesn’t make a million buns. This will make about 15-18 pieces, depending on how big you make the buns. Most Norwegian recipes make around 40 buns or so, but in our household of only 2 (5 if you count the dogs, and they love these too!) it doesn’t make sense to make this many, because I honestly don’t love to freeze baking goods. You can definitely freeze them if that’s your jam, but I prefer them fresh and warm straight out of the oven.
Perfect on a Sunday afternoon with a hot cup of coffee, make these if you have guests coming over and want something casual to serve, or want to impress them with your baking skills. They really are so easy to make – get the dough going in the morning and you can do other chores while you wait for the dough to rise. I also love to eat them plain, especially when they are still warm! You will not believe these have no dairy or eggs in them, there really is no difference in texture or flavor – I promise!
BEST EVER VEGAN CARDAMOM BUNS
1 stick /8 tbsp (113 grams) vegan butter, like Earth Balance, cut into pieces
3 2/3 cups (550 grams) organic all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1 packet (2 1/2 tsp) dry yeast
1 1/2 cups (3.5dl) non-dairy milk, heated to about 120 degrees F (60C).
melted vegan butter for brushing top of buns
Place the all purpose flour in a bowl of a stand mixer and crumble in the vegan butter by hand, or you can also pulse it in using a food processor. Attach the dough hook, add in the sugar, baking powder, cardamom, salt and dry yeast and combine. Pour in the non-dairy milk while the machine is running at low, then turn up to medium and knead dough for about 12-15 minutes. The key here is to knead the dough long enough. The dough might look wet and you might be tempted to add in more flour, but wait and give the dough time to work. Eventually it will release from the sides of the bowl and turn into a smooth, firm dough. If you think you need it, you can add in another 1/4 cup flour, or however much you think you need, but use your judgement here.
After dough has been formed and kneaded, place a clean towel over the dough and place the bowl in a warm spot. Let rise for about 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
Prepare two baking sheets – either grease with a little oil or place parchment paper or silpats on sheets. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit (225 degrees Celcius).
Place the dough onto a clean work surface, sprinkle with a little flour. Cut the dough in half using a dough cutter, then roll out the pieces to two links. Cut each link into 8-10 pieces and roll into round buns. Place the buns on the prepared baking sheets, cover with towels and let rest for about 20 -30 minutes.
Brush the tops lightly with a little plant-based butter right before putting them in the oven.
Place one sheet at a time in oven, and bake for about 10-12 minutes until golden on top. Place sheets on a cooling rack until cool enough to handle. Best served warm, but can be kept in airtight container or ziplock for abut 3 days and reheated.