norwegian cinnamon + cardamom buns

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He gives it his thumb of approval.

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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.

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