THE LINK ABOVE WILL TAKE YOU STRAIGHT TO THE RECIPE
These cardamom buns or knots are inspired by the Swedish ‘kardemummabullar‘ which is a popular treat served during their tea or coffee break which is often referred to as the ‘fika’. I got to work briefly in a small town called Linköping in Sweden about 8 year ago (didn’t realize it’s been that long) and remember seeing all sorts of traditional buns in supermarket isles and hotel buffets. I even remember having warm cinnamon buns or ‘Kanelbullar‘ with hot chocolate in an outing on the snow.
I wasn’t into baking like I am now, but definitely food (specially cakes, bread and pastry) sparked my curiosity even back then. I tried as much food varieties as I could fit in to the three meals, everything ranging from popular to absurd.
Making these buns or knots brought memories right back! And as you already know, I’ll be using natural yeast to leaven these little gorgeous buns.
A bit about Cardamom
There are two varieties of cardamom out there, black and green. If the recipe doesn’t mention specifically then it is often the green cardamom which is commonly available and used is most recipes.
Green cardamom has an intense flavor, when freshly ground. With time however, the smell and the intensity fades away. So most cardamom powders that are being stored at supermarket isles for months if not years, lack the real aroma and the intensity. It could be harder to source authentic spices when they are imported. So if you want the best results, make sure to find good quality authentic cardamom. Spices like these are only seasonally available at specialized spice agents.
Back in Sri Lanka, I had no trouble sourcing good quality, fresh spices. Some even have these growing in their back yards. After moving overseas I always relied on a trusted spice suppliers.
Best way to grind cardamom is to extract the seeds from the pods and crush them using a mortar and pestle. I know it sounds time consuming, but it is worth it!
Make the stiff starter 10-12 hours prior to mixing the dough. Preferably overnight.
When mixing the ingredients for the stiff starter, make sure to knead it until smooth. It will look like a small dough ball. Place in a small container cover and leave at room temperature until it becomes spongy. Usually will triple in volume.
Prepare all the ingredients
Flour (AP or bread flour)
room temperature milk
room temperature water
1 teaspoon salt
Place flour, sugar, cardamom, salt in a bowl of a stand mixer. Add milk and water and start to mix. When most of the flour start to hydrate, add the stiff starter(levain) and mix to combine. Increase speed to medium and mix until a dough is formed
When you see a sticky dough, add the butter a bit at a time and mix to incorporate. Scrape the bowl to encourage mixing. Once all the butter is added, let the dough rest for about 10 – 15 minutes. then mix on medium speed for 3-4 minutes until dough feels elastic.
Dough will start to get stronger and will start to pull off the sides of the bowl. Use a light dusting of flour around the edges of the bowl to encourage this. At this stage stop mixing.
Bring the dough onto a nonstick surface. Wet your palms and perform several slap and folds to finish off kneading.
Dough will start to look a lot smoother. Now cover and leave to rest for about 15 minutes and do a few more slap and folds until the dough is considerably smooth, like shown in the next picture.
The dough is a lot smoother now. At this stage, it is ready for the bulk fermentation.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and place in a warm area to bulk.
This will take about 4-5 hours at 26°C. It should grow considerably (almost double in volume)
This is the bulked dough. Notice how it has grown to almost double the size.
Bring the bulked dough on to a floured surface and degas slightly and round up into a tight ball like shown in the next picture
The dough will feel strong and elastic now and not sticky like it used to be. Degas and round up to a tight ball and place in an air tight container and refrigerate for the long slow fermentation (retardation)
Same day bake
For a same day bake, refrigerate for about 2 hours and move onto shaping
When you are ready to shape the rolls, make the paste.
If you use freshly ground cardamom, 1 tbsp. is enough. If it is sore bought and doesn’t have a strong smell/flavor use about 1.5 to 2 tablespoons. If you are worried about the strong flavor, use 1/2 tablespoon and see how you like it.
Mix butter, light brown sugar and ground cardamom to a paste and set aside.
You can mix this by hand using a spatula/spoon or use a mixer. Do not over mix or whip. We don’t want this fluffy.
If you retard the dough, let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to an hour, until it is soft enough to roll out but still cold to the touch.
It is a lot easier to roll out when the dough is still cold
Flour the bench and the dough and roll out using a rolling pin to a rectangular shape.
about 21 inch by 10 inch
This is the thickness. It’s roughly about 3mm, but doesn’t have to be exact.
Use flour to stop dough from sticking when rolling
Divide the length to three sections and just mark it so you can see.
Apply an even thin coasting of the paste on 2/3 of the dough.
Don’t go overboard with the paste, it’ll be slippery when shaping later.
Once done, follow the steps to fold the dough so there will be three layers.
Fold the empty section (that doesn’t have paste) over the center section.
Fold the top section on to the center
Roll out the dough to increase the width a bit and flatten the dough so it will end up roughly about 10 inch by 10 inch or 12 inch by 12 inch
The size doesn’t have to be exact. Use your instinct and increase the width a bit so the dough is not very thick and is roughly square.
If the dough seems too soft, place in the fridge for 5-10 minutes.
Once you rolled out, cut into 12 stripes. Split each stripe in to two but not all the way.
Twist the two ends slightly and form a knot. Check the video below.
If it is difficult, just form in to a knot without twisting or wrap like a cinnamon roll and tuck the end underneath.
I’m showing the whole process here, cutting a stripe, splitting it to two stripes, twisting and forming the knot
Once done Place the knots on a tray lined with parchment and leave to proof.
Cover loosely to prevent drying out and let this rise until almost doubled in size. This would take about 3-4 hours. Do not place in a too warm area as the butter and sugar in the paste may melt.
You can bake these in a muffin/cupcake tray too.
Towards the end of the proofing, preheat the oven to 425 °F (conventional)
Proofed knots will look considerably puffier and bigger.
Whisk an egg with a tablespoon of water or milk. Apply a thin layer over the proofed rolls.
This is completely optional. If you have pearl sugar, sprinkle some on to decorate.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown all around.
Once baked, leave on a wire rack to cool completely. Of course you can devour one or two while still warm