In winter when temperatures drop to bone-chilling degrees, warmth can often be found in the kitchen. During the cold months, I find myself gravitating towards the warming the spices of cinnamon, nutmeg, curry, white pepper and cardamom, which generally get pushed to back of the cupboard during the summer months.
But it is cardamom that holds my heart, keeping it warm on the coldest of days, not only for its flavor, but through the memories it brings. It is one of the first spices I remember tasting as a child. Growing up with a Finnish mother and an Egyptian father, the holidays were filled with recipes from their homelands.
Each Christmas, my mother would make Finnish Pulla, a subtly sweet braided loaf of bread, speckled with fresh ground cardamom seeds, soft and buttery and topped with coarse sugar. Sometimes she would add raisins and sliced almonds.
When it came out of the oven, the whole house smelled happy -its aroma whispering of exotic faraway places. On Christmas morning, my Egyptian father would crush a few cardamon pods and add it to his brewing coffee, a wistful nod to his past. Cardamom, like the broken English they both spoke, became their common ground in the kitchen.
How to Make Cardamom RollS
Step 1: Make the easy dough and let it rise until it doubles in size. It takes about 1 ½- 2 hours.
Step 2: Punch it down and divide into four.
Step 3: On a floured surface, roll it out into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Dough will measure roughly 12 inches by 18 inches.
Step 4: Lather with very soft butter, sugar and cardamom, and roll it up.
You may be tempted to leave out the butter in this step because the dough will seem buttery enough, but don’t; you will be disappointed. I have tried this myself, and the rolls were dry.
Step 5: With the seam side down, begin cutting triangles. The point of the triangle being about ¾ of an inch and the widest part being 2-3 inches.
Step 6: Turn the triangles so that the narrowest point now faces up. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Let them cool. Store in zip lock bags or a kitchen towel until ready to serve to keep them soft.
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Finnish Cardamom Rolls – a delicious cardamom-infused sweet roll perfect for holiday gatherings, Christmas morning and holiday tea.
- 1 cup milk or half and half, lukewarm (no warmer than 110F)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds, toasted and crushed or 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 2 eggs
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 1 egg, for egg wash, whisked.
- Turbinado or rock sugar, for sprinkling over the rolls, or regular sugar
- Combine the warm milk, a pinch of sugar and yeast in a bowl, give a stir and let stand 7 minutes until yeast is frothy and active.
- Place the eggs sugar and vanilla in a bowl or a stand mixer, and beat until sugar has dissolved. Add the milk and yeast and 1 cup flour, beat til smooth, then add the soft butter, cardamom and salt. Mix well.
- Continue adding flour, 1/2 cup at a time until dough is soft but from enough to kneed. Switch to the dough hook and continue mixing, adding a little more flour until the dough separates from the bowl and forms a ball.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rise in a warm spot, until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Mix the sugar and cardamom together in a small bowl for the filling.
- Cover the work surface with flour. Punch down the dough gently and place it on your work surface. Cut the dough in 4 equal pieces. Working with one piece at a time, cover the other rolls so that they don’t dry out. Roll each piece into a rectangle about as thin as you can, should be about 12 inches by 18 inches. Brush some soft butter onto it. Make sure it’s nicely buttered. Sprinkle some of the cardamom sugar over the entire surface, as much as you want. Roll it into a tight log starting from one of the narrow ends. With the seam side down, line up the dough log in front of you and cut it on the diagonal, alternating up and down, so that the slices are fat ‘v’ shapes, with the point of the ‘v’ about 3/4 wide and the base about 2 inches wide.
- Place each on parchment-lined baking sheet and turn so the narrow tip of the ‘v’ is facing up to the ceiling.
- Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Let the rolls rise again, doubling, 40 minutes. Don’t skip this step.
- Brush the rolls with egg wash and then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Bake for about 18- 20 minutes and check to see if cooked through (200 F) , and continue baking for a few more minutes if necessary. Let cool and store in air-tight bags to keep them soft.
- To serve, heat them in the oven for just a few minutes, and serve with butter.
To make a traditional Finnish braided loaf, go to “Finnish Pulla”.
- Serving Size: 1 roll
- Calories: 160
- Sugar: 4.9 g
- Sodium: 63.1 mg
- Fat: 6.9 g
- Saturated Fat: 4 g
- Carbohydrates: 21.1 g
- Fiber: 0.7 g
- Protein: 3.4 g
- Cholesterol: 39.5 mg
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