Thursday 17 October 2013

Cardamom Buns

It's the school holidays.  This means I alternate between feeling I should keep my kids happy and stimulated and being satisfied simply with keeping everyone alive for the day.  Today we didn't leave the house, but I figure that's ok because I baked something, I organised a box full of wires, and I made dinner.  That sounds like a good enough list of accomplishments for me.

The weather was awful today, and I had promised my son I would make blueberry muffins.  But I didn't feel like blueberry muffins, so I convinced him it was a better idea to make cardamom buns.  For a yeasted dough, this recipe doesn't take too long, and they fill the flat with nice autumn/winter smells.  I finally bit the bullet and bought a sizeable packet of ground cardamom online as I was sick of paying extortionate prices for tiny bottles and hate using a pestle and mortar for the pods.  I keep the bag in a tin with some other dry staples and love how every time I open the tin that scent of cardamom comes wafting out, asking to be made into buns.  On the rare occasion I escape my kids I like to go to Peter's Yard and have one with a pot of tea.  They make them there with the option of a fresh fruit and custard topping, but I rarely have the energy to whip up some creme patissiere as well as doing all that is required below.  No matter, the fact that I get to eat them fresh out the oven more than makes up for it.  
First you make the basic dough, kneading it for as long as you can be bothered to do so, and stick it in a bowl to rise, covering it on top to prevent any drying out.  One of the contestants on the Great British Bake Off uses shower caps to cover her bowls, which I think is a fantastic idea.  Sometime I'm going to have to order a stack of those to keep handy.  I had a small person helping me, so she got a wad of dough and kneaded it as well.  While they were rising, I made the filling and set it alongside them.  
There's a lot of yeast in this baby, so you only need to wait a half hour before the next step.  Check it has risen...
Sure, looks fine to me.

You then roll it out into a rectangle roughly about 12" by 16".

I'd kind of like a real yard stick like teachers have.  I have this from my sewing box, and it always slides off the work surface when I'm using it.  Plus, a yard stick would be useful for when I want to add emphasis to what I'm saying during lectures to my children.  But for now I'll just make do with the tape measure.  *sigh*

You then smear the filling all over the dough.  The little helper was given a spoon of filling to do hers.  You may notice it is an apostle teaspoon.  I was given them by a colleague who made it a mission of hers to try and find 12 apostle teaspoons.  She had 8 and was trying to get 4 more when she visited the creepy junk shop "Chariot Express", located next to Peckhams.  She mentioned her quest to the owner one day when she was sifting through his collection of teaspoons, and the next week found that the prices of his teaspoons had magically increased tenfold.  She never did complete the collection, but gave the spoons to me to clear her kitchen drawer of their clutter.  And the shop went up in flames and now it looks like it is going to re-open in a new property 50 yards away.  

But I digress.  Then you fold the dough in half onto itself and cut it into strips.  They don't need to be pretty, mine never are as usually by this point I'm doing it left-handed, juggling a baby, and shouting to someone to JUST PUT THAT DOWN AND LEAVE THEM ALONE.  NOW.  1...2...

Then one by one, grab a strip and twist it like so...sort of...
And then curl it around itself to get a series of mounds that your children attack with brushes of eggwash.  Just make sure they wash their hands first.  Not that they'll be touching any of the buns; it's just a good excuse to get them to wash their hands once in a while.  

My daughter made a few swirls of her own, which were for HER to eat. 
I think I was supposed to let them rise again before I did the egg wash, but it just didn't happen that way and they turned out just fine.  Another half hour rising, a sprinkling of demerara sugar and into the oven they go, emerging at the end like this.

Notice the filling spills out a bit onto the tray, creating crisp cinnamon cardamom sugar pieces for someone to clean up.  One of the unexpected perks - just wait until it stops bubbling though, hot sugar is no fun.

So the recipe I use is basically as follows, if you fancy making some yourself.  :
Makes around 20



  • 4 tsp instant yeast
  • 75 g butter, cubed
  • 250 mL milk
  • 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3 cups plain flour


  • 75 g butter at room temperature, cubed
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  •  6 Tbsp sugar


  • 1 small egg, beaten
  • Demerara sugar


Put yeast into a large bowl
Melt the butter over low heat (or in the microwave as I do). Once it has melted stir in the milk. Remove from heat when the mixture reaches lukewarm (or just nuke it a little longer). Pour a little of the butter and milk mixture over the yeast and stir until dissolved.
Add the rest of the butter and milk mixture along with the sugar, salt, cardamom and flour. Flour your hands and knead the dough until it is no longer sticky. It should pull away from the side of the bowl. Cover and rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix the butter, cardamom, cinnamon and sugar for the filling to a smooth paste.  I often have to microwave the butter a bit for this as I never remember to leave butter out long enough in advance to get it to room temperature
Lightly sprinkle your work surface with some flour. Use a rolling pin  to roll out the dough to roughly 30 cm by 40 cm/12″ by 16″. Spread the filling over the entire surface in an even layer. Fold the dough in half and slice into about 12 strips. Twist the dough, and then form into a bun by curling the dough around itself.
Place the buns on baking trays lined with baking paper and allow to rest for a further 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220 ºC/440 ºF.
Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the buns with the beaten egg. Sprinkle each bun with demerara sugar.
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

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