Swedish cardamom buns are like a cross between a cinnamon roll and a pull apart bread. They're light, packed with delicious flavor, and a beautiful addition to any coffee table.
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Every year, I do some digging on traditional cookies and breads for the festive season. In general, I manage to make at least a couple (like alfajores, kolache cookies and panettone inn previous years).
Of course, I always have some I don't quite get round to making. Well, at least it gives me ideas for another year, I guess. I think these pretty sweet rolls have gone in and out of my list for years, and this year I finally got round to making them.
To say I wish I'd made them sooner, would be an understatement.
I've always been a fan of cardamom (or cardamon as we would write it in the UK). Sure, cinnamon is wonderful as well but cardamom often seems forgotten in comparison. Yet it has such a wonderful, delicately war flavor.
Thankfully, it seems to be better recognized in some places, like Finland and Sweden where things like 'pulla' bread and these 'kardemummabullar' (cardamon buns or rolls) are popular treats.
These sweet little buns are perfect with your morning coffee, and you can imagine having your own Swedish Fika at home. I also think they'd be perfect to share with guests for something that bit different but so easy to like, too.
Variations in Swedish cardamom buns
You'll find a few slight variations in how to make these, but essentially they have two core components:
- a cardamom-infused, butter-enriched yeast dough;
- a sugar, butter and cardamom filling.
Some give them an eggwash, and sometimes add a little more sugar on top, while others glaze after baking and add cardamom sugar then. Either way, the idea is to show off the beautiful twists of dough.
Small batch buns!
Most recipes I've found make a huge quantity, which I understand to a point when you are making a yeast bread, you want to get your money's worth from that waiting time. The only thing is these are definitely best fresh and we just don't need 20 of them at a time, and I bet we're not alone there.
So, I have created a recipe that makes 6 cardamom buns which to me is perfect for a small group to enjoy in one sitting. If you need more, you can multiply up the quantities.
If you do have leftovers, you can store in an airtight container and use the next day. I'd recommend warming them either gently in the oven, or simple wrapped in kitchen roll for a short burst in the microwave (I found 15 seconds on 90% was good). You can also freeze them and defrost before re-heating.
How to twist Swedish cardamom buns
While there is a bit of waiting for these to rise, they are not difficult to make. If any bit could be called tricky, though, it would be forming them in to the twisted buns you see here. I found a few different methods and played around to come up with what I have done here which I think is about the easiest.
You basically make two 'legs' that you twist together, then tuck one leg-end into the bit where the legs join, and twist the other over the top and into the middle of the knot you have formed.
I've demonstrated it in the video, so do take a look! Honestly, it's pretty easy once you get in to it.
You'll find the dough easy to roll out - it shouldn't be sticky, but instead relatively dry to the touch. However the butter in there, in particular, keeps it nice and soft and adds richness to the flavor.
The bit that makes the twisting tricky, if anything, is you get little bits of sweet, sticky butter coming out on your fingers. But, believe me, it's worth it.
We all loved these and I can definitely see them making a more regular appearance. With a delicious flavor and texture, they're definitely a treat you need to try.
Try these other tasty baked goods perfect for mid-morning coffee:
- Sourdough cinnamon rolls
- Coconut mango scones
- Sour cream mocha cake
- Eggnog cinnamon rolls
- Plus get more snack ideas, both sweet and savory, and Nordic recipes in the archives.
Tools to make these
See some of my favorite cooking tools and ingredients in the Caroline's Cooking Amazon store.
Swedish cardamom buns
For the dough
- ½ cup milk 120ml
- 1 tsp fast acting yeast
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter 30g, softened
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour 210g plain flour
- ⅛ tsp salt
For the filling
- 3 tbsp unsalted butter 42g
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 egg for eggwash - won't use all
- 1 tsp cane sugar approx - or use pearl sugar if you have
Forming dough & first rise (40min)
- Warm the milk gently until it just starts to bubble then remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly. Once it's tepid, sprinkle the yeast over the top and set aside while you prepare out other ingredients.
- Mix together the softened butter, sugar and cardamom. Add the salt to the flour. Mix the butter mixture into the yeast and milk mixture then gradually add the flour. Once combined, turn it out on to a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes. Note, you can also do the mixing and kneading in a stand mixer.
- Put the dough into a clean, lightly-oiled bowl and cover. Set aside in a warm place for around 40 minutes to double in size.
Mixing filling and forming buns
- When the dough is almost done with it's first rise, mix together the butter, sugar and cardamom for the filling.
- Roll the dough out into a long, thin rectangle, approx 21 in x 7in (52x18cm). Spread the filling evenly over the top then fold the dough to be three layers thick - first fold one third (short end) over to halfway across the rest of the dough, then fold the other side over the top. The layered piece of dough will be roughly square.
- Cut the dough into 6 even strips crosswise (so they are joined on either side), trimming slightly on either end if needed. Then, split each strip in the middle almost all the way but leaving the one side joined (see pics above).
- Take one piece of dough and twist the two strips together, then tuck one end in between where they join, and loop the other end over and through the middle of the loop you have formed. Repeat with the other pieces of dough.
Second rise (30min) then baking
- Put the formed buns on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or parchment, cover and set aside to prove for around 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
- Lightly brush each bun with egg-wash, sprinkle over a little sugar then bake for approx 12 mins until golden brown on top. Allow to cool for a few minutes before serving (best served warm).