norwegian cinnamon + cardamom buns

DSC_5087web

DSC_5124 web

He gives it his thumb of approval.

DSC_5141 web

It was one of those cozy, cloudy, rainy spring days.  The kind that makes me want to do nothing but bake up something warm and sweet.  What better than cinnamon buns?  And Norwegian ones at that?

I have two favorite cinnamon bun recipes…I couldn’t decide which one to use, so I did a mash up of them both.  Here is my version of Norwegian Cinnamon Buns, based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her book, How to Be a Domestic Goddess, and this one from Tessa Kiros, author of Apples for Jam and Falling Cloudberries.  I love Kiros’ addition of cardamom, such a Scandinavian flavor that brings back memories of my grandparents for me.

Norwegian Cinnamon and Cardamom Buns

for the dough:

  • 5 cups white flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 3 tablespoons yeast (yes, really!  3 TABLESPOONS.)
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 2/3 cups milk
  • 2 eggs

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar {plus additional for sprinkling over buns, optional}
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

for the glaze:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • a few spoonfuls of sugar {for sparkle effect, it’s a good thing}

OR…you can do this frosting instead of the sprinkled sugar glaze if you’re craving something extra sweet and sticky:

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract {or vanilla, but almond is better in this particular recipe}

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom, and yeast in a large bowl {that’s right, you don’t need to dissolve the yeast first! I know, it’s completely insane but it works, trust me!}. Melt the butter and whisk it into the milk and eggs, then stir it into the flour mixture.  Mix to combine and then knead the dough either by hand or using the dough hook of an electric mixer until it’s smooth and springy.  Add a little additional flour if the dough is too sticky.  Form into a ball, place in an oiled bowl {I usually use the one I mixed the dough in, just so I don’t have so many dishes to wash}, cover with plastic wrap or a clean dish towel, and leave it to rise for about 25 minutes.  I’ve heard that a slightly warm clothes dryer is a great place to let bread dough rise…I’m going to try it next time!

While the dough is rising, mix together all the filling ingredients.

Take half of the dough and roll it on a lightly floured surface into a 20×10 inch rectangle. Spread the dough with half of the filling mixture, doing your best to cover it entirely.  Roll it up from the longest side.  Now, grab your sharpest knife or a pizza cutter, and get ready to cut your dough into buns.  You can just do the traditional, slice, slice, slice straight across, but if you want to up the wow factor here is what you do.  Imagine you are cutting the letter ‘V’ right side up, then upside down, all across your rolled up dough.  The point of your ‘V’ should be about 3/4-inch across, and the base of it should be about 2 inches across. Does that make sense?  See the photo above if I’m not making sense, which most likely I’m not.

Great work!  Now do the exact same thing with the other half of your dough and filling.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a cookie sheet, or grease the pan if you don’t have parchment paper around.  Take all those little ‘V’ shaped pieces of pudgy dough and sit them on their fat bottoms into the pan.  So it will look somewhat like an upside-down ‘V’.  Now press your thumb down into the center of each one until you almost reach the pan, but be careful not to break a hole through the bottom of your dough.  Along the sides you will see the cinnamon stripes peeking up and outward.  Leave a little bit of space between each one to allow room to rise while they bake.  Brush them with the beaten egg {and sprinkle with sugar if you’d like} and then let them rise again for about 15 minutes.

Put into the hot oven and bake for 25-30 minutes.  They should have risen and turned a golden brown.  If you are using the frosting, allow the buns to cool slightly before drizzling it over the tops.  Enjoy warm with an ice cold glass of milk.

Makes about 24.

DSC_5126 web

camping 2013 part 2

I told you I fell in love with camping again this summer, so of course we had to squeeze in one more trip before the cold weather moved in.  The High Uintas have become our favorite…can you see why?  Look at this meadow…we even spotted some moose here.

Ben helping Olivia build a fairy hammock.

Ben helping Olivia build a fairy hammock.

Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake.

Building s'more city.

Building s’more city.

forest

We ate like royalty once again with the Camp Chef stove {breakfast burritos, taco salad, blueberry pancakes…}, jumped and twirled through the grassy meadow, spotted a moose, felt grateful for our portable throne, built fairy houses and hammocks {fairies even came overnight and left treasures!}, read books and played games during the rainstorm, and talked about first kisses around the campfire {Ben had a couple stories!?!}.  Oh, and we tolerated some drunk, fighting neighbors and celebrated when their big, fat motor home bumped away into the distance!

Roll over the photos for descriptions. :)

superhero birthday party

super hero party invitation

Come to our party!

superhero partysuperhero partysuperhero partysuperhero partysuperhero partysuperhero partysuperhero partyDSC_6800web superhero partysuperhero partysuperhero partyiron mansuperhero partyDSC_6846websuperhero partysuperhero party

superhero party

Easy party craft…paper plate Captain America shields!

superhero party

Little heroes creating their super shields.

superhero party

Part of our superhero training–toss the Kryptonite through the hoop.

superhero party

Another part of superhero training–”Hulk-smash” the city.

superhero partysuperhero partysuperhero party

superhero party

Will is three!

superhero party

superhero party

I was going to label these Kryptonite, but remembered that Kryptonite is a bad thing…

superhero party

A peek inside the treat bags.

superhero party

Treat bags for all the superheroes as they fly home.

My little superhero has been “planning” this party for months on his own, telling me that the cake should be a red heart with Avengers stickers all around the sides and a toy Nick Fury on top.  I didn’t quite do that, but his cute little ideas definitely helped inspire this party.

For the invitations, I put to use the goods from this photo session and tried my best to put it all together in Photoshop (links below for fonts and graphics).  I really wanted it to look like it came out of a comic book.  What do you think?

The decorations were pretty simple to pull together, really.  Enough white butcher paper to cover the table, some bright cups, plates, stripey straws, and some nicely designed Iron Man napkins.  I wrapped every smallish-sized box in the house (including boxes of pasta, with pasta still inside) with more butcher paper, and glued yellow “windows” to create skyscrapers.  The windows aren’t exactly straight, but hey, I was in a hurry (as always).  I loved Will’s idea of putting a toy superhero on the cake, so not only did we do that, but we scattered them all over our table cityscape as well.  Heroes are always in the city, fighting crime, right?  I found “BANG” and “POW” graphics online to add a little pop to the scene.  At the last minute, I had the idea to put some newspaper on the table since Clark Kent and Peter Parker work for the newspaper, but since I don’t subscribe and I was out of time, I had very little to work with.  My son, Ben, however found a great newspaper article he had stashed away that featured Spidey.  Perfect!  We had Hulk stomp through the grapes, and Iron Man protect the strawberries from any bad guys.

Of course, I had to include tissue paper pom-poms…what’s a party without them?  So I had some red and aqua blue ones floating over the table.  Since my husband loves superheroes as much as Will does, we happened to have a couple framed prints to hang on the wall, which I personalized with a comic-style speech bubble.  Then I added a few blasts of yellow stars to finish off the wall.  The console table in the other room was covered with superhero books and masks.

What do you feed little superheroes?  Captain America star-shaped watermelon, Hulk grapes, popcorn, pretzels, Iron Man strawberries, raspberry sherbet and a patriotic cake (topped with toy superheroes and other fun things).

Since our party guests were just little guys, I had to think of a very simple craft for them to work on as we waited for everyone to arrive.  Hey, how about super shields made from paper plates?  Yes!  I stapled a strip of red elastic onto the back side for a handle, and then provided a pile of superhero stickers for them to plaster all over their shields.  Success!  They loved it, and it was nice that they could do it on their own while I was answering the door.

Superhero Training was next.  Each hero had to display their shield throwing skills, toss “Kryptonite” through a hoop, and detonate bombs (black water balloons).  They “Hulk-smashed” the “city” with big, green fists, and shot down a bad guy (a Loki figurine) with “webs” (Silly String).  When their training was complete, each one received a gold medal to show off their bravery.

We always end birthday parties with the “fishing pond.”  Kids love it!  Old-fashioned games are the best.  Wooden dowels with strings and clothespins attached are the “fishing poles.”  We cover the railing with a blanket so the kids can’t see into the pond, and they fish over the railing for a surprise.  My older kids sit on the stairs below and help the little kids catch a treat bag to take home.  Inside the treat bags there were patriotic butter mints from the party store (perfect for Captain America!), blue Hershey’s kisses “bombs”, red licorice “laser lassos,” and “anti-Kryptonite” rock candy sticks (because Kryptonite is a bad thing for Superman…this builds his immunity to it).

Such a fun day, watching Will soaking up every minute of his dream party.  I hope this gives you lots of inspiration for your own superhero party!

P.S.  Fonts I used for the invitation and decorations found here and here.  Here are the PNG files I found for the yellow explosion stars, BANG, BAM, POW, KA-POW, and speech bubbles one, two, and three.